There isn't much more comforting to me than tomato soup and grilled cheese. However, my tomato soup is not your average red stuff from the can. My grandmother (or oma) used to make this amazing tomato soup with fresh tomatoes, meatballs, spaghetti noodles and TONS of dried thyme. It's more of a stew really and SO, SO good. As a child I watched her make it many times and over the years I've perfected my own version. There are certain elements to her recipe that I've omitted (like using bone marrow and fatty beef), but mine comes pretty close (and is healthier!), although it will never be 100% like oma used to make it :-)
I make my soup in a crock pot, since the base of the soup needs to cook slowly and long. This recipe serves about 6 people. Here is what you need for the base:
- 32 ounces of beef stock (I use the low sodium kind)
- 2 cups diced onions
- 8 ounces lean beef, cut in cubes
- 8 ounces lean ground beef, seasoned with salt and pepper, rolled into small meatballs
- 3 whole cloves
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 1/2 tsp dried thyme (or more if you can stand it)
- And last but not least: 1/4 cup chopped lovage leaves. Now this is kind of a secret ingredient. Lovage is an herb that tastes like celery and looks like parsley. It's not an herb that is readily availble in stores and it's hard to find. However, it is a key ingredient and we have two large lovage plants growing in our garden. If you can't find it, you could use flat leaf parsley or celery leaves. It won't taste exactly like oma's soup, but it will still be good.
Cook the soup base on low for at least 6 hours. Then add 1 large 28 oz can of your favorite tomatoes. I like my soup chunky, so I use whole tomatoes and chop them roughly, but you could use crushed or diced tomatoes as well. Add two tablespoons of tomato paste and simmer for another hour or so. Meanwhile, cook about 4 ounces of spaghetti or more if you like more paste (I use whole wheat) and add it to the soup. Stir and serve.
The way we used to eat it at oma's house was with some sambal oelek added. Sambal oelek is a hot chili paste and it gives the soup an amazing flavor. Of course, if you don't like things spicy you could leave it out, but for me... my soup has to have that kick!
I would be perfectly happy eating just a big bowl of this tomato-y goodness or maybe with a piece of nice crusty bread for dipping. But what goes better with tomato soup than a grilled cheese sandwich?
Tonight I made ours on my favorite low calorie bun with fat free cheese, onions, tomatoes and roasted garlic (Matt and I LOVE roasted garlic!)...
Just spread it on the bread before adding the cheese and the veggies...
For you WW people: I did the calculations and the Points Plus value for the entire meal (1 1/2 cups soup and 1 sandwich) was 11. For me, this comfort food from home is SO worth the Points :-)