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Let’s Talk Food: Soup and sandwiches

  • Courtesy of AUDREY WILSON Tomato bisque.

There is nothing like a nice, delicious bowl of hot soup and a great sandwich. Each needs the correct components to make it perfect.

Soup is usually thinner than a bisque, which is thick and creamy with the addition of cream or flour. So a modern tomato soup with cream in it can be called creamy tomato bisque.

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Fire-Roasted Tomato Bisque

Serves: 4

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 medium onion, finely chopped

1 medium carrot, finely chopped

1 celery rib, finely chopped

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

4 cups chicken stock or canned low-sodium broth

14.5-ounce can diced fire-roasted tomatoes, drained

3 tablespoons tomato paste

2 teaspoon sugar

1/4 cup heavy cream

Salt and freshly ground white pepper

1/2 cup garlic or cheese croutons for garnish

In a medium saucepan, melt 2 tablespoons butter. Add the chopped onion, carrot, celery and garlic, cover and cook over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are just beginning to brown, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle the flour over the vegetables and stir over low heat for 1 minute, or until the flour is fully incorporated. Add the chicken stock, tomatoes, tomato paste and sugar and bring to a boil. Cover partially and cook the soup over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are tender, 15 minutes.

Transfer half of the soup to a blender and puree until smooth, or if you want the entire soup smooth, puree in batches. Return the puree to the saucepan, add the heavy cream and cook until the soup is just heated through. Season the soup with salt and white pepper and swirl in the remaining 2 tablespoon of butter. Ladle the soup into bowls, garnish with crouton and serve.

• • •

Making a perfect sandwich is not rocket science … start with a good bread, one that doesn’t fall apart when you bite into it.

The meat should be cut as thin as possible, shaved if possible, so it does not fall out when you take the first bite.

When it comes to cheeses, in general, Swiss pairs well with ham, muenster or provolone with beef, American with turkey or chicken, but this also is up to one’s personal taste.

Lettuce, tomatoes and even sliced onions are good additions and a personal choice. If making a sandwich with tomatoes, slice them 1/4 inch so there is a balance of flavors.

The perfect grilled cheese, according to Food Network is as follows:

2 ounces sliced melting cheese, 2 slices, such as American, cheddar, muenster, Havarti, Swiss, fontina, Mozzarella, Monterey jack, pepper jack or provolone

2 slices bread, such as white, rye, brioche, sourdough, potato, whole wheat or pumpernickel

1 tablespoon fat, such as mayonnaise or butter (I prefer mayonnaise as it makes the grilled bread a nice crunchy surface)

Skillet method (fool-proof and low-tech): Sandwich 2 slices of cheese between 2 slices of bread. Preheat a skillet over medium-low heat. Spread or brush the outside of the sandwich with 1 tablespoon mayonnaise and cook until lightly browned, 3-4 minutes. Flip the sandwich, and continue cooking until browned and cheese is melted, 4 minutes more.

• • •

What is in a classic club sandwich?

The club sandwich is actually an acronym and stands for chicken, lettuce under bacon, and must be served in triangles. The first club sandwich was created by Fraser Scrutton at the exclusive Union Club of New York City and was made up of “two toasted pieces of Graham bread, with a layer of turkey or chicken and ham between them, served warm.”

Today, most club sandwiches have bacon, turkey, lettuce and tomatoes as the recipe below.

Classic Club Sandwiches

Serves: 4

12 slices white or wheat bread

3/4 cup mayonnaise

8 romaine lettuce leaves, washed

16 slices vine-ripened tomatoes

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

16 slices crispy cooked bacon

16 ounces sliced roasted turkey

16 frill picks

Serve with potato chips and sweet pickles

Toast the bread in a toaster, or under a broiler on both sides. Cut the lettuce leaves in half crosswise and form into 8 neat stacks.

To make a double-decker club, on a clean work surface, arrange 3 bread slices in a row. Spread 1 tablespoon mayonnaise over one side of each bread slice. Place a lettuce stack on top of the first bread slice, top with 2 tomato slices and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Place 2 slices bacon over the tomatoes (broken to fit neatly if necessary) and top with 1/8 of the turkey (without letting any hang over the sides). Season the turkey with salt and pepper, to taste. Repeat with the second bread slice. Carefully place the second layered bread slice on top of the first layered bread, turkey side up. Cover with the third bread slice, mayonnaise side down.

Pin the sandwich’s layers with a pick. Serve with potato chips and pickles.

• • •

My friend, Jack Stevenson, claims his wife, Jane, makes the best sandwiches. So I asked him what she does to make his sandwiches so good.

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“Always fresh ingredients and whatever sauce is spread out perfectly to the edges of each piece of bread,” he said.

Email Audrey Wilson at audreywilson808@gmail.com.

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