Recipe of the Quarter: Smoky Tomato Soup & Grilled Cheese

Ingredients:

For the soup:
- 3 slices of bacon
- 2 carrots, diced
- 1/2 yellow onion diced
- mayonnaise (or butter)
- 3 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
- 1 1/2 tbsp tomato paste
- 1 tbsp flour
- 4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
- 1/2 tsp dried thyme
- 1 bay leaf
- 28 oz can peeled whole tomatoes (San Marzano)
- heavy cream (optional)

For the grilled cheese:
- Thick-cut sourdough bread
- American cheese slices (3-4 per sandwhich)

Instructions:

For the soup - Cut bacon into small pieces and fry in a soup pot over med-low heat until crispy. Add garlic, onion, and carrots to the pan and sauté for 5-10 minutes until tender.

Pour can of tomatoes into a bowl and crush them with your hands. Set aside. Add tomato paste to the pot and stir for a few minutes until it starts to brown and caramelize. Add flour and stir for another minute. Stir in crushed tomatoes, broth, thyme, and bay leaf and simmer for 30 minutes. Puree soup in batches in a food processor or high-speed blender. I blended it once in a food processor and then finished in the blender to get it extra smooth. Return to soup pot and add cream if desired.

For the grilled cheese - Heat a flat top griddle pan (or regular frying pan) over medium heat. You can use a little bacon fat to grease the pan. Or not, your call. Get two slices of bread and cover each one with 1-2 slices of cheese depending on how large your bread is. Make sure the cheese is covering the bread edge to edge. Put both slices together to make a sandwich with the cheese sides touching in the middle. Slather one side of the sandwich with mayo and lay it in the pan. Slather the other side with mayo and flip once golden brown. Finish cooking on the other side until both sides are golden and crispy and the cheese is fully melted.

*Recipe and photos provided by Lauren Regnier of Ditch the Recipe.