The season for comfort food has started. Just as comfort means different things to different people, comfort food is different for everyone. For me, the thing that jumps to the top of my list is grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup. Yes, I remember my mom making this for us (I now have the electric griddle she used to use) but when I really remember eating it was in camp. I was always ravenous on those summer days; days that, living in the Pacific Northwest, weren’t always so summery. The lunches where grilled cheese and tomato soup was served were some of my favorites. The soup was just Campbell’s and the sandwiches were mostly bread with just a bit of cheese, and every single one of them was slightly burned. But I didn’t care. Dipping the sandwich in the hot soup was something that gave me great pleasure.
Just after I started cooking for myself, I found a recipe for Tomato and Leek soup. They suggested serving the soup with a grilled goat cheese sandwich made on egg bread. A Dana Treat classic meal was born. Over the years, I have served this soup with sandwiches on homemade challah probably 20 times. It is Randy’s number one most favorite meal. The soup is so good, it doesn’t need the sandwich, but it sure is a nice food memory for so many people. You can, of course, make a regular grilled cheese sandwich with cheddar cheese and white bread and still have fun dipping.
Last weekend, I did another yoga retreat with my incredible friend Jen. (You can see previous posts here and here.) This time, unlike the past two, I was able to stay for the whole day – no brothers in the hospital and no birthday dinner waiting for me. And what a treat it was. From the moment I stepped in my car to head to the ferry, to the moment I drove off the ferry back in Seattle, it was an amazing day. (There was a Sounders soccer game that evening, so the traffic-filled drive home was not amazing.) The weather was beautiful, all the women there were so welcoming and wonderful, the yoga was intoxicating, and it was such an incredible treat to spend the day on myself. Every busy person out there knows what I am talking about.
I didn’t have to think too hard about what to make for everyone’s lunch. The trick was keeping it from Randy that I was making his favorite food and he wasn’t going to be able to have any of it. He found out after the fact and made a big show of being the victim. I make all this wonderful food for other people and not for him. He said this as his leftover choices were roasted pear galette, a leek frittata, or a tomato and goat cheese tart. Poor guy.
By the way, here is me and my new haircut.
Tomato Leek Soup
Adapted from Bon Appétit
I almost always use an immersion blender when puréeing any kind of soup and it works great here. So if you have one, use that. I always use canned tomatoes in this soup.
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 cup coarsely chopped leeks
4 pounds chopped tomatoes
3 1/2 cups vegetables stock
1 1/2 cups white wine
1 7-ounce jar roasted red peppers, drained and chopped
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley
2 tbsp. fresh thyme leaves, or 2 tsp. dried
1/3 cup whipping cream
6 tbsp. tomato paste
4 tsp. minced garlic
Heat olive oil in large saucepan over medium heat. Add chopped leeks; sauté until tender, about 10 minutes. Add all the other ingredients. Simmer one hour, stirring occasionally. Coarsely purée using a food processor, blender, or immersion blender. (Can be made one day ahead. Cover and chill.)