February 4, 2014

Quatro of Smooth Soups with Grilled Cheese

Quatro? Quartet? It doesn't matter. The point is that we made four soups at once and dunked grilled cheese into them and they all were tasty.  I had this idea buzzing around in my head for quite a while after visiting the Picnic House in SW Portland last year, where they serve a trio of soups with little grilled cheese slices.  I have not really ever been a fan of pureed soups, but I enjoyed the dunking aspect and taste comparisons of having multiple soup options for dunking. 

It was kind of a crazy idea to make four soups at once, and V also commented as such, but I stuck to it and I am glad I did. I am also so glad I enlisted V to help me with this because otherwise I probably would have pulled out my hair or given up.  Also, since V gave me an immersion blender for my birthday, it was the perfect chance to put it to use!  Another total bonus about making four soups at once is that now my freezer is stocked full of soups for rainy days to come! 

Vanessa, Matthew, and I all had different rankings of these soups, and even the expectations of which we would like best turned out to be wrong. This was a fun experiment, but I won't be making four soups at once again anytime soon!

My rankings: Curried Butternut, Tomato/Pepper, Zucchini Basil, Roasted Cauliflower. I expected to like the Cauliflower the best.
Vanessa's rankings: Curried Butternut, Tomato/Pepper, Cauliflower, Zucchini Basil.  V expected to like the Zucchini soup the best.
Matthew's rankings:  Tomato/Pepper, Cauliflower,Curried Butternut, Zucchini Basil.  Matthew ate the zucchini one first and said it was great but then each one he ate after that he liked more.  (It's nice to cook for this guy, he loves everything!)

4 smooth soups with grilled cheese! Yum!  http://mostlysoup.blogspot.com/2014/02/quatro-of-smooth-soups-with-grilled.html
(Please forgive the super 90s food styling here, I didn't really plan that out and these are the only dishes I had that were appropriate!)

I pulled these recipes from various sources, and chose recipes with few ingredients and that did not use cream, as we intended to dunk grilled cheese into them and why add extra cream?  We used chicken stock that I made a couple weeks ago, but these could all easily be vegan by simply using vegetable stock.  I cut a couple of the recipes in half and one I cut into thirds, and there was still way more than I expected of each.  We made simple grilled cheese sandwiches on a foreman grill I forgot I had, since all the burners on the stove were being used by soup!

Here are the recipes as we made them, along with our notes on each.

Roasted Cauliflower Soup with Roasty Onions and Rosemary from The First Mess
*Various taster comments: "More manly (than the zucchini)," smoky, charred, "too roasty."
*Note: I would use less potatoes next time and not let the veggies get as browned as they did.  Maybe bigger cauliflower florets/onion chunks. 

1 small head of cauliflower, cut into florets
4 medium yukon gold potatoes, diced
1 yellow onion, chopped
1 sprig of fresh rosemary
Olive oil
salt and pepper
3 cups chicken stock
1/2 of a lemon
lemon zest 

1. Preheat the oven to 400F.
2. Remove the core from the cauliflower and chop it into florets.  Chop the potatoes into pieces about the same size. Chop the onion into rough 1-2 inch pieces and toss all of the veggies onto a rimmed cookie sheet or other roasting pan. 
3. Remove the leaves from the rosemary sprig and chop them up. Sprinkle the rosemary over the potatoes and cauliflower.  Toss them with olive oil, salt and pepper until evenly coated with the oil, rosemary and S&P.
4. Roast vegetables for about 20 minutes flipping and tossing them here and there with a metal spatula/spoon to promote even browning. 
5. When the vegetables are soft, remove from the oven and squeeze the 1/2 lemon over the hot vegetables (drop the lemon into the warm pan too so that it can release some oil too). Toss the vegetables with the lemon juice, scraping the browned bits off the bottom.
6. Once the vegetables are slightly cooled, put them into a soup pot and add a cup at a time of stock. Purée until smooth and cntinue blending in batches until you’ve used up everything. Heat the large soup pot full of purée over medium heat until it boils. Add more stock or water to thin the soup out if necessary and adjust seasoning to taste by adding lemon zest, more lemon juice, salt and pepper.
7.  Keep on low while you make the grilled cheese.

Zucchini Basil Soup from Cooking in Red Socks
*Various taster comments: "Tastes like summer," fresh, light.
*Note: This soup was tasty but in comparison to the rest it was just a little too simple and light. Maybe more basil or more red pepper flakes, or adding another veg to it might have been good. This soup may have benefited from a squeeze of lemon, I wish I had thought of that!  The original recipe had some cream added but I don't think that is necessary.  
4 large zucchini, ends chopped off and diced
1 yellow onion, diced
3 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
¼ tsp red pepper flakes
⅔ cup fresh basil, packed and roughly chopped
2 cups chicken stock
olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

1.  Heat a large soup pot over medium heat. Add a drizzle of olive oil and the zucchini, onion, garlic, and red pepper flakes. Saute for 5-7 minutes, or until the onions start to become translucent. Add the basil and cook another 3 minutes.
2. Add the chicken stock to the pot, cover, and cook for 15 minutes on a low simmer. 
3. Once the vegetables are all soft, carefully blend until the soup is completely smooth.  Add more stock if necessary (or you can add a touch of cream at this point for extra creaminess). Season to taste with salt and pepper. 
4. Keep on low heat while you make the grilled cheese. Garnish with basil.

Roasted tomato and red pepper from Vegetarian Times
*Various taster comments: "Delightful."
*Note: I was excited about this soup because I am obsessed with red peppers and we added more of them than the original recipe called for. I felt that the soup was slightly too acidic in the end and a touch of cream might be good in this one. I will try it with the leftovers!  Also the original recipe said to just half the tomatoes and quarter the peppers so they would get more browned, and I would do that next time for the slight roasty flavor and to contain the juices somewhat.
2 ¼ lb. ripe tomatoes, diced
3 large red bell peppers, seeded and diced
1 onion, diced
4 large cloves garlic, peeled
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/4 cupchopped fresh basil
1 tsp. fresh thyme leaves or ½ tsp. dried thyme
2 cups chicken stock

1. Preheat oven to 400F.
2.  Place all tomatoes, peppers, onion and garlic on a large baking sheet (or two).  
3.  Toss with olive oil, sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. 
4.  Roast until brown and tender, about 20 minutes. Remove from oven; let cool slightly.
5.  Transfer vegetables and any juices to soup pot. Add basil and thyme leaves. Purée soup, gradually adding enough stock to thin soup to desired consistency.
6.  Heat through, stirring occasionally.  Keep on low while you make the grilled cheese. Serve hot. Garnish with fresh thyme.
Curried butternut squash and apple soup from Ina Garten
*Various taster comments: "The ginger was a great addition!" 
*Note: This soup was incredible.  I added ginger because it sounded like it would go well and V and I agreed it really made this soup extraordinary.  This one surprised us both!  
1.5 lb pounds butternut squash, peeled and seeded, diced
1 yellow onion
1 red apple, peeled, cored, and diced
3 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 cups chicken stock
1/2 teaspoon good curry powder 
1 Tablespoon fresh grated ginger 

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. 
2. Cut the butternut squash, onions and apples in 1-inch cubes. Place them on a sheet pan and toss with the olive oil, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Spread in a single layer. 
Roast for 35 to 45 minutes, until very tender.
3. When the vegetables are soft, put them into a soup pot.  Add stock 1 cup at a time and blend with immersion blender.   Add more stock as needed to reach desired consistency. 
Once blended, Add the curry powder, ginger, and salt and pepper to taste. Be sure there's enough salt and pepper to bring out the curry flavor. 
4. Keep on low until ready to serve. Top each serving with chopped scallions.

No video for this post because it was a little too chaotic!  Happy souping!


  1. Yay, butternut apple and curried! :)

  2. Thank you for using my recipe in your taste test! Next time I make it I'll be sure to add the lemon- that sounds like a good idea to me too!

    - Jamie (Cooking In Red Socks)

  3. No problem! Thank you for checking out our blog and for posting such a tasty summery soup!