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Michael Bulkowski's Tomato Soup and Zucchini-Bread Grilled Cheese

Ingredients (21)

For the pickles:

  • 1 tablespoon whole allspice
  • 1 tablespoon fennel seeds
  • 1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns
  • 12 baby squash with blossoms attached, cut in half lengthwise
  • 3 cups cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt

For the soup:

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 medium yellow onion, large dice
  • 2 medium garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 large ripe beefsteak or heirloom tomatoes, cored and large dice
  • 2 (4-inch) cinnamon sticks
  • Kosher salt

For the sandwich:

  • 4 (1/4-inch-thick) slices zucchini bread
  • 1/4 cup chèvre (fresh goat cheese), at room temperature
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

To serve:

  • 3 to 5 purple basil leaves, for garnishing the soup
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Michael Bulkowski's Tomato Soup and Zucchini-Bread Grilled Cheese

This simple tomato soup from Chef Michael Bulkowski of Findlay, Ohio’s Revolver restaurant is flavored with cinnamon and is a favorite of his vegetarian daughter. He serves it with quick-pickled baby squash and a zucchini-bread grilled cheese sandwich.

What to buy: You can use any sweet zucchini bread or this savory squash quick bread for the grilled sandwich.

Watch Michael make his go-to lunch in our My Go-To Dish video.

Instructions

For the pickles:
  1. 1Place the allspice, fennel, and peppercorns in a medium saucepan over medium heat and toast, shaking the pan occasionally, until fragrant, about 3 minutes.
  2. 2Add the squash, vinegar, sugar, and salt and bring to a boil, stirring until the sugar and salt have dissolved.
  3. 3Using tongs, transfer the squash to a clean 1-quart jar with a tightfitting lid and top with the pickling liquid. Let come to room temperature, seal, and refrigerate until ready to use. The pickles can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 1 month.

For the soup:

  1. 1Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat until shimmering. Add the onions and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 3 to 5 minutes.
  2. 2Add the tomatoes and cinnamon sticks and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer until the tomatoes fall apart, about 20 minutes. Remove and discard the cinnamon sticks.
  3. 3Using a blender, purée the soup in batches until smooth, removing the small cap from the blender lid (the pour lid) and covering the space with a kitchen towel (this allows steam to escape and prevents the blender lid from popping off). Pour the soup into a clean saucepan. Taste and season with salt as needed. Keep warm.

For the sandwich:

  1. 1Heat the oven to 300°F and arrange a rack in the middle.
  2. 2Place 2 slices of the bread on a work surface. Evenly spread half of the cheese on one slice and half on the other. Season with salt and top with the remaining 2 slices of bread to make 2 sandwiches.
  3. 3Heat the oil in a large, nonstick, oven-safe frying pan over medium-low heat until shimmering. Tilt the pan slightly so that the oil coats the bottom. Add the sandwiches and cook until the bottoms are golden brown, about 3 to 5 minutes. Flip and cook until the other sides are golden brown, about 3 to 5 minutes more. Place the pan in the oven and bake until the cheese has completely melted, about 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer the sandwiches to serving plates.

To serve:

  1. 1Ladle the warm soup into bowls, tear the basil leaves, and sprinkle them on top of the soup. Serve with the sandwiches and the pickles on the side.
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