Monday, October 6, 2014

Fall evenings with Gouda Grilled Cheese and Spicy Carrot Soup

It’s fall everywhere and it’s a beautiful time of year!

I love finally getting to wear my favorite fall jacket: a dark green corduroy blazer, with matching green leather gloves. It’s time for sweaters, boots and scarves. Fall means mornings with a slight misty chill that turn into sunny afternoons that are still nice enough to be outside for a walk or a coffee on a patio. It’s beautiful colours and smells and it’s time for warm, gooey, spicy comfort food: grilled cheese and spicy carrot soup!

Sizzling and simmering! My Mom made the Bon Appetit needlepoint.
It's perfect for a French kitchen!

A simple soup and sandwich night has been long overdue, especially after such a crazy/busy summer of traveling, moving and living out of suitcases. But no more of that! I have my own kitchen again and all the knives, gadgets and appliances I’ve missed since they were packed up and shipped out, so the time for a lovely comfort meal is here!

I could have gone the easy route with regular grilled cheese and tomato soup and although it’s tasty, we've been there, done that. I like this spicy soup as a beautiful and unique alternative to tomato soup, since it’s still fairly simple, but that also has a touch of the new and blog-worthy. A distinct soup needs a distinct sandwich, so this particular grilled cheese uses special Gouda seasoned with cumin. This soup and sandwich meal may be comfort food, but it’s definitely not ordinary.
Gorgeous fall-colored ingredients.

To make Spicy Carrot Soup, you will need: 
1 kg of carrots, peeled and chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 knob of ginger, around the size of your thumb, peeled and chopped
3-4 cloves of garlic, either minced or chopped
2 Tbsp olive oil
4 cups of vegetable broth or the equivalent in instant vegetable stock
Fresh ground black pepper, to taste
1 tsp* red pepper paste, found with Cajun/Creole ingredients (It won’t look like much, but trust me – it’s enough! You can add more but only if you want it really, really spicy! You can substitute the paste for red pepper flakes)

Blender method is worth a try.
1-In your soup pot, sauté the ginger, garlic and red pepper paste/flakes in the olive oil for a few minutes.
2-Add the carrots and red pepper and keep sautéing, until everything is slightly softened.
3-Add the broth.
4-Bring the soup to a boil, then simmer on low for around 20 minutes.
5-Carefully scoop out small portions to puree in a blender until the whole soup is pureed. Let simmer on low while you make the sandwiches.
6-Enjoy with a side of sandwich!

To make the Gouda Grilled Cheese, you will need:
-sliced sandwich bread, in this instance, I used a Boule, a type of French bread that’s round, like a ‘boule’
-slices of cumin-seasoned Gouda

Bread, Gouda and Butter.

1-While the soup is simmering, heat some butter in your skillet and assemble the sandwiches.
2-Keep the heat on low and press the sandwiches into the skillet with your spatula.
3-Carefully flip each sandwich until the bread is grilled golden.
4-Remove from heat, slice and enjoy with a side of soup!

Zing! This is not a bland vegetable soup!

Its bright orange color might seem mellow and soothing but look out – the combination of ginger and red pepper paste makes this soup nice, hot and spicy! As I mentioned before, be careful with your quantities, unless of course, you like it that hot. A generous dollop of sour cream or Greek yogurt also adds a cooling sensation, without taking away from the overall taste. All spiciness aside, this is one of my favorite soups because it’s so flavorful and simple to make. Plus, it’s ridiculously healthy! This was the first time I used the blender method, as opposed to an immersion blender, and although slightly less convenient, it worked out just fine.  

As for the sandwich, I really liked the cumin in the Gouda and I’m glad I tried it for a new twist on an old classic. It adds a rustic, slightly smoky flavor to the sandwich. It was a nice, relaxed touch to a spicy and satisfying fall meal.

Gouda Grilled Cheese and Spicy Carrot Soup

For a meal that’s as healthy as it is hearty and warm, it’s hard to beat the soup and sandwich combo. Play with the flavor combinations to find one that’s comfort food without being boring. Then enjoy those chilly fall nights, listening to the wind while you’re curled up with your hot bowl of soup and gooey grilled cheese sandwich.

Bon appétit!

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