Well, today was not one of the best for the company that employs my husband. So I wanted to make him something equally comforting and filling to help him shake it off when he got home. Luckily, we are pretty stocked on awesome ingredients right now thanks to our weekend excursion to a couple of farms in Dutchess County, New York. We made it back from Sprout Creek Farm and Fishkill Farms Apple Orchard on Saturday with a variety of raw cows’ milk cheese, a beautiful head of escarole, and a few heirloom tomatoes.
Here is a sincere thank you to my lovely cousin Liv – she inspired our trip to Sprout Creek Farm and we might never have known it exists if not for her! She spends a week or two every summer working the farm and helping care for the animals – um, why did I not do this when I was in high school??!! When I realized how close the farm was to Stamford, I knew I had to see it for myself. And really, it is heaven. We had so much fun visiting the animals and tasting all of the fresh cheeses. I definitely will be going back soon.
So anywho, back to tonight’s dinner: an ultimate grilled cheese paired with a simple bean and veggie soup!
For the soup – serves 4-6
2 cans Cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
4 cups vegetable stock
1 Spanish onion, diced
4 cloves of garlic, finely diced
1 bunch of escarole, chopped
salt, pepper, smoked paprika, red pepper flakes, to taste
Toussaint cheese, freshly grated (or your choice of firm/semi-firm natural rind cheese)
For the sandwiches – serves 2
4 slices of bread of choice – I used Italian
1 heirloom tomato, sliced
4 Batch 35 cheese slices (or your choice of semi-soft/washed-rind cheese)
Start the soup by heating a tablespoon or two of olive oil in a large pot. Toss in the diced onions and cook over medium heat until they begin to soften and are translucent. Add a bit of salt and pepper while they cook. Throw in the garlic and continually stir or add a bit more olive oil to ensure it doesn’t burn. Then pour in the vegetable stock and bring the mixture to a boil. While that’s going, take half of the beans and purée them with a quarter to half a cup of water in a a food processor. When the soup is boiling, pour in the beans and the bean purée. Give it all a good stir and season with a bit more salt and pepper, as well as smoked paprika and red pepper flakes if you’d like a little heat. Then let the soup simmer while you prepare the grilled cheeses.
Preheat the broiler on low. Place the four slices of bread in a broiling pan and drizzle each with some olive oil. Place the Batch 35 cheese on two slices and top with the tomato slices. Then place the other two bread slices on top. Put the pan in the broiler until the bread begins to char around the edges (roughly 2-5 minutes). I like to flip the sandwiches over once to ensure even cooking.
While the sandwiches are in the broiler, add the escarole to the soup and let it wilt to your liking. If timed correctly, the sandwiches and soup will be ready at about the same time. Top the soup with the freshly grated Toussaint and enjoy!