This simple tomato soup from Chef Michael Bulkowski of Findlay, Ohio’s Revolver restaurant is flavored with cinnamon and is a favorite of his vegetarian daughter. He serves it with quick-pickled baby squash and a zucchini-bread grilled cheese sandwich.
Michael Bulkowski’s Tomato Soup and Zucchini-Bread Grilled Cheese
For the pickles:
1 tablespoon whole allspice
1 tablespoon fennel seeds
1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns
12 baby squash with blossoms attached, cut in half lengthwise
3 cups cider vinegar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons kosher salt
For the soup:
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 medium yellow onion, large dice
2 medium garlic cloves, minced
4 large ripe beefsteak or heirloom tomatoes, cored and large dice
2 (4-inch) cinnamon sticks
For the sandwich:
4 (1/4-inch-thick) slices zucchini bread
1/4 cup chèvre (fresh goat cheese), at room temperature
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 to 5 purple basil leaves, for garnishing the soup
For the pickles: Place the allspice, fennel, and peppercorns in a medium saucepan over medium heat and toast, shaking the pan occasionally, until fragrant, about 3 minutes.
Add the squash, vinegar, sugar, and salt and bring to a boil, stirring until the sugar and salt have dissolved.
Using tongs, transfer the squash to a clean 1-quart jar with a tightfitting lid and top with the pickling liquid. Let come to room temperature, seal, and refrigerate until ready to use. The pickles can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 1 month.
For the soup: Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat until shimmering. Add the onions and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 3 to 5 minutes.
Add the tomatoes and cinnamon sticks and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer until the tomatoes fall apart, about 20 minutes. Remove and discard the cinnamon sticks.
Using a blender, purée the soup in batches until smooth, removing the small cap from the blender lid (the pour lid) and covering the space with a kitchen towel (this allows steam to escape and prevents the blender lid from popping off). Pour the soup into a clean saucepan. Taste and season with salt as needed. Keep warm.
For the sandwich: Heat the oven to 300°F and arrange a rack in the middle.
Place 2 slices of the bread on a work surface. Evenly spread half of the cheese on one slice and half on the other. Season with salt and top with the remaining 2 slices of bread to make 2 sandwiches.
Heat the oil in a large, nonstick, oven-safe frying pan over medium-low heat until shimmering. Tilt the pan slightly so that the oil coats the bottom. Add the sandwiches and cook until the bottoms are golden brown, about 3 to 5 minutes. Flip and cook until the other sides are golden brown, about 3 to 5 minutes more. Place the pan in the oven and bake until the cheese has completely melted, about 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer the sandwiches to serving plates.
To serve: Ladle the warm soup into bowls, tear the basil leaves, and sprinkle them on top of the soup. Serve with the sandwiches and the pickles on the side.
*Recipe and image courtesy of CHOW.com.*