Sometimes it’s the simple things in life that bring so much happiness.
Sleeping in on a Sunday morning, taking a walk in the woods on a crisp fall day or setting aside time to finish a book you’ve promised yourself you’d read one day.
The same can be said in the culinary world, where chefs can get caught up in trying to create or recreate the best dish in the world.
It can be great, but it can also backfire because the farther you stray from simplicity, the further you complicate the flavor profile.
Some of the best dishes I’ve ever eaten have been those with few ingredients: Chicken soup, grilled cheese (foreshadow alert), even pudding skins.
Yes I realize I may have just divided the audience there, but I wanted to make sure you were paying attention.
One of my all time favorite lunches when I was a kid was the definition of simple: Tomato soup with a grilled cheese sandwich.
Nothing fancy, no artisan bread or imported cheese, no heirloom tomatoes reduced and pureed with an immersion blender, just heated up canned soup and white bread grilled golden with American cheese.
As I look back, something sinister happened right under our noses and we all fell for it hook, line and sinker.
The grilled cheese, as it turns out, was just an evil plot to get all the kids in America to eat tomato soup.
On its own, tomato soup in a can was never all that impressive.
If it didn’t come with a grilled cheese sandwich I could dunk into it, I would have had no part of it.
Enter the grown up version of tomato soup – tomato bisque.
It’s quite easy to prepare, and when you dip your four-cheese grilled sandwich in it, you’ll not only remember your childhood, but you’ll still be cool because you’re eating tomato bisque with fromage grille’, you fancy one, you.
In a soup kettle over medium heat add add:
2 – 14.5 ounce cans diced tomatoes in juice (San Marzano are best)
1 – 14.5 ounce can tomato sauce
2 tablespoons chicken base (paste), or more to your taste
1 – 4.5 ounce can tomato puree
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
Bring to a simmer then add:
1 – 4.5 ounce can tomato paste
2 cups heavy cream
Generous amount of fresh cracked black pepper or to taste
Whisk to blend ingredients and continue simmering on medium low heat until soup reduces to slightly thicker consistency.
Ladle into bowls to serve.
Serve alongside a grilled cheese sandwich and step back in time.
If you want to go to the next level, drizzle it with a balsamic glaze in a funky pattern and top with fresh grated parmesan cheese.