We had cocktails the other evening with a friend who is vegetarian, but still loves a good slice or two of cheese. In minutes flat I was able to whip up a batch of my favorite chilled summertime soup, tomato gazpacho, and added a little bit of extra flair with a Ruthie’s Grilled Cheese inspired classic grilled cheese sandwich, cleverly made into a perfect tapas for each glass of soup. Fresh, veggie filled soup and a decadent, melted grilled cheese….sign me up!
1/2 red onion, roughly chopped
1 English cucumber, roughly chopped
1 red bell pepper, stem and seeds removed and roughly chopped
1 small Hawaiian chile pepper (or jalapeno,) stem and seeds removed and roughly chopped
3 tablespoons fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon each pepper and salt
2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
4 large, very ripe tomatoes, cut in half to save as much of their juice as possible
2 tablespoons Sherry vinegar (or red wine if that is all you have)
Zest and juice of 1 lime
2 tablespoons Sherry or white wine
2 slices white bread, crusts removed and sliced
Add everything to a large blender, placing the bread in the middle of the blender to soak up the liquids. Let sit for about 10 minutes, then blend until smooth. I like some texture in soup, if you want it brothy, you can strain through a sieve. Chill until cold then adjust any additional seasonings and serve in a tall, thin glass, like a juice glass.
Classic Grilled Cheese
8 slices thick, crusty bread (like sourdough or farmer’s bread)
8 ounces cheddar cheese, shredded
Garlic salt and white pepper
Butter one side of each slice of bread and lay the buttered side down on a prep board. Sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper. Layer about 2 ounces of cheese on the un-buttered side of 4 slices of bread. Heat a large skillet to medium on your stove. Add a touch of butter and swirl around the pan. Place the slices of bread without cheese on top of those with cheese and carefully lay two sandwiches into your pan. Cook until golden brown on the bottom, then flip and cook until golden and the cheese is melted. Remove from the pan onto a paper towel, just to blot off any excess butter. Cut into wedges big enough to rest on top of your glass. Serve one sandwich wedge on top of each glass. Serve any remaining cheesy wedges on the side for additional dipping…your guests will thank you!