Winter grilling: roasted tomato soup and crispy cheese sandwiches

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We often think of grilling out on the patio as a summertime activity, but cold weather grilling brings its own unique benefits. Try roasting some ingredients on the grill while a big sourdough loaf or a maple pecan pie warms in the oven inside. Roasted tomato soup paired with crunchy, warm sandwiches warms up the body and spirit in these cold winter months.

 

Roasting tomatoes on the grill

A roasted tomato soup made with grilled tomatoes is one of the simplest yet most scrumptious winter soups. We like this recipe but you can dig out your grandma’s super secret roasted tomato soup instructions. We’re following the steps but we’re grilling the vegetables outside. A charcoal or wood flame will add a depth of flavor you won’t want to miss.

With the recent dive in temperatures, you’ll want to prep all grilled ingredients inside. While the grill warms up, cut your tomatoes in wedges. Prepare them with the ingredients in your recipe, e.g. olive oil and salt, then skewer the tomatoes along with cut fresh red peppers and one or two fresh garlic cloves. Strike up a timer on your phone or oven, bundle up (making sure all tassels, errant pom-poms etc. are tucked in), and take the skewers out to the grill. The timer’s first ring will be a reminder to turn the skewers over. Set the timer again. If for any reason you have to leave the grill under a willing volunteer’s eye, a second alarm will remind you to retrieve the skewers when they’re done roasting. Once the tomatoes are roasted, you can continue on with grandma’s super-secret tomato soup recipe.

Grilled cheese on the grill

When we hear “grilled cheese,” we sometimes think of the simple lunchtime fare of our youth. While we all weren’t paying attention, grilled cheese has stepped up. Celebrity chefs and home hobbyists alike have blazed new pathways away from the Wonderbread-and-Kraft days of yore.

Now we can think outside the expected breads and cheeses. The first stepping stone is to upgrade the bread. Splurge on a grainy bakery loaf and cut it into thick slices. Grill the slices on the insides first before building the sandwich. This ensures the bread will be warm throughout, and not just crisp on the outside. Warming the inside of the bread also helps melt the cheese and any extra ingredients you may fancy, like cooked ham or bacon, or veggies.

The sandwiches can be cooked outside on the grill, too. Have some tin foil on hand to protect the sandwiches from the grates if necessary. Make sure any added ingredients are already thoroughly cooked. The time on the grill will be short and insufficient for bringing meats or raw veggies to high enough temps to ensure food safety. Prep inside and bring your building blocks for your grilled cheese sandwiches outside. After you’ve warmed the insides of the bread slices, stack up your cheese and extras and find a nice, smoldering coal to park the sandwich over. Once the bread is browned, and carefully flip the sandwich. Molten cheese should hold the integrity of the sandwich, but make sure it’s squared and straight. When the bread is browned and the cheese is just starting to melt out the sides, your perfect tomato-soup companion is ready to enjoy. Stack them and cover them with foil to keep them warm for the quick walk back to the house.

 Enjoy!