Soup and Sandwich Night

Another blast of frigid air blew into northern New Jersey. It feels like a soup and sandwich night for us.

My Dad hands out loads of gift cards as Christmas presents each year. I spent one of mine on my new favorite kitchen gadget -- a Panini Grill. Or as I like to call it, my panini machiney. These contraptions are available at cooking and home stores everywhere. It makes crispy and crunchy pressed sandwiches, and it only takes a couple minutes to create a cheesy and gooey mess of a sandwich. If you don't have a panini machiney, just make a grilled sandwich and put a heavy pan on top of it while it cooks to press it down.

Our menu consisted of Cauliflower, Cheddar and Bacon Bisque and Panini Sandwiches. Two sandwiches were honey ham, Gruyere cheese (like a funky Swiss), thin sliced granny smith apples, and apple butter. Two others were honey ham, bacon and, cheddar. The last one was honey ham, bacon, Gruyere and Dijon mustard. All the paninis were on a rustic loaf of bread. Thumbs up all around for the sandwiches. I like to make soups with lots of chunky ingredients but, this one was more of a creamy one. 4 thumbs up for the soup. My son opted out of trying it.

If winter is still got a hold of where you live, give this menu a try.

Cauliflower, Cheddar and Bacon Bisque

makes about 10 servings

5 slices bacon, chopped
2 cups onion, diced
3 ribs celery, diced
4 cloves garlic, chopped small
2 heads cauliflower, cut into small chunks
6 cups chicken broth
4 ounces cheddar, grated
1 teaspoon dried tarragon
1 cup half and half
extra cheddar cheese for sprinkling on top
parsley, chopped fine to make it look fancy
truffle salt or oil, if you have it

Cook bacon in large stockpot over medium heat until crispy. Add onion, celery and garlic and cook about 8 - 10 minutes. Add the cauliflower, broth, cheddar, and tarragon and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer covered for about 30 - 35 minutes until the cauliflower is tender. Puree soup in batches in a blender or food processor and return to stockpot. Add the half and half and simmer to heat through. Ladle into bowls and top with extra cheddar, parsley, and a little truffle oil or salt.


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