Roasted Red Pepper and Fontina Grilled Cheese and Tomato-Lentil Soup.
A portion of the soup is left over from the Yom Kippur dinner we shared with my folks this weekend. The lentils add a warm, slightly nutty flavor to my basic vegetable soup, and had a texture similar to butternut squash bisque. For dinner tonight, we’re using the lentil soup but adding some tomatoes, to make it more consistent with the tomato soup/grilled cheese comfort food of the Husband’s childhood.
Roasted Red Pepper and Fontina Grilled Cheese
4 slices country bread
2 to 4 slices tomatoes, marinated in olive oil, 2T fresh basil, 2T fresh oregano, and salt and pepper for 30 minutes
Roasted red pepper, one whole, sliced in half (Easiest way to roast a red pepper is in the toaster oven. If you don’t have one, or if you are unfortunate and like us, have a nice one that no longer works, the second easiest way is on the grill, if you have a gas grill. Otherwise, stick it in a hot oven. Once the pepper is roasted, seal it in a zip-lock bag until it cools, about 20 minutes. Remove it from the bag and peel the skin. The skin will come off easily at this point. Slice it in half, clean out the seeds, and you’re all set.)
Wilted leaf spinach, enough to cover slice of bread
Dried crushed red pepper flakes
Optional: pancetta, prosciutto, thinly sliced leftover roast beef
Marinate tomatoes. Preheat oven to 400°F. Lightly toast bread in pan on one side. Lightly butter untoasted side of each bread slice. Place 2 bread slices, buttered side down, on work surface. Top each with 2 meat slices, if using, then spinach leaves, then red pepper slices, then 4 cheese slices. Sprinkle with salt and crushed red pepper. Top with remaining 2 bread slices, buttered side up. Heat olive oil in heavy large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Add sandwiches to skillet and cook until golden on bottom, about 4 minutes. Turn sandwiches over; transfer skillet to oven and bake until golden and cheese melts, about 5 minutes. Remove from oven. Carefully lift off top bread slices from sandwiches and insert tomato slices into each, then cover with bread tops and serve.
Make Lentil Soup, see recipe below. (If making Tomato-Lentil soup on the first go, add additional tomatoes when adding the first can, then add the cream towards the end of the cooking process.)
2 14 oz cans diced tomatoes
Fresh basil, for garnish
To turn the leftover lentil soup into tomato-lentil soup, we reheated the leftovers in a pot and added another can of diced tomatoes. We also added cream and used the immersion blender to blend until almost smooth. Serve in warmed bowls with sliced basil on top.
Vegetable Lentil Soup
1 onion, cut into rough ¼” pieces (or whatever size you prefer for soup)
3 or 4 carrots, cut
3 or 4 celery stalks, cut
The leafy inside part of the celery bunch, chopped
1 leek, chopped (we used the lower half of the leek)
1 garlic clove, chopped into very small pieces
2 quarts vegetable broth, and maybe more for thinning as the soup cooks
2 cups red lentils (or lentils of your choosing)
1 14oz can diced tomatoes
Fresh herbs (we used parsley, basil, oregano, tarragon)
Salt and pepper to taste
Sautee onion, carrot, celery, celery leaves, and leeks in olive oil until crisp-tender over medium to medium high heat. Add garlic, cook for a few minutes until fragrant. Add broth, bring to a boil and reduce heat, simmering vegetables for 10-15 minutes. Add lentils, tomatoes, and herbs and cook for 30 minutes or until lentils are soft. At this point, you can leave the soup as it is, or you can blend some or all of it. I used the immersion blender until about half of the soup was smooth, with some vegetables remaining in larger pieces. Add broth to thin if needed. Salt and pepper to taste, or allow each diner to salt and pepper individually (whenever we cook and my mother is one of the recipients, we always leave out the salt and pepper and let each person add their own).