For the soup:
- 1 can San Marzano whole tomatoes, chopped and juice reserved
- 1 Spanish onion, peeled and chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, smashed
- 6 thyme sprigs, left whole
- 1 cup chicken stock
- Kosher salt, to taste
- Fresh ground pepper, to taste
For the sandwiches:
- 8 slices artisan country white or sourdough bread
- 1 pound sharp yellow cheddar, sliced
- 2 Spanish onions, peeled and sliced
- 12 plum tomatoes, halved lengthwise (half will be used in the soup)
- 1 Tbsp. thyme, chopped
- 1 Tbsp. marjoram, chopped
- A few tablespoons of butter
- A few tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 Tbsp. canola oil
Preheat oven to 275°F.
In a bowl, toss halved plum tomatoes with extra virgin olive oil, salt, pepper, and the chopped fresh herbs. Place on a pan lined with parchment paper with the flesh side up and roast for 4 hours.
Make the soup: In a medium saucepan, sweat 1 onion until soft and add garlic cloves for another minute. Add the chopped canned tomatoes and juice, chicken stock, whole thyme sprigs, salt, and pepper. When the mixture comes to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook for 1 hour. Remove the thyme sprigs and transfer the soup to a blender. Blend on high speed and add half of the roasted tomatoes and blend until smooth. Adjust the seasoning to taste.
Make the sandwiches: Preheat oven to 400°F. In a sauté pan over low heat, add 1 Tbsp. canola oil and add 2 sliced onions; slowly sweat the onions until they are very soft and translucent, then raise the heat to medium, stirring the onions until the natural sugars caramelize and they are a light to medium caramel color.
Lay out 4 slices of bread and add 1 slice of cheese, topped with a spoonful of onions and chopped roasted tomatoes spread out. Season with salt and pepper and add another slice of cheddar and top with the bread.
In a sauté pan over low to medium heat, add the butter until melted, add the sandwiches to the pan and cook 3 minutes on each side.
Place in the oven for 3 more minutes to make sure the cheese is melted through.
Cut the sandwiches to four bars each and serve alongside the tomato soup dip.
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