Dean shares recipe for Roasted Red Pepper Tomato Soup and French Onion Grilled Cheese

Cooking with Dean

On his weekly cooking segment, WGN Entertainment Reporter Dean Richards is cooking up an easy recipe for Roasted Red Pepper Tomato Soup and French Onion Grilled Cheese Sandwiches.

RED PEPPER & SUN DRIED TOMATO SOUP

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 red bell pepper, halved, seeded, and stemmed
  • 1 (8-ounce) jar sun dried tomatoes packed in oil
  • 4 cups chicken broth, divided
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 Roma tomatoes
  • 1 can tomato paste (6 oz)
  • ¼ cup Wondra Instant flour
  • ½ a large sweet onion, cut into large chunks
  • ½ cup chopped fresh basil
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

INSTRUCTIONS:

Using heat-safe tongs, roast the red pepper over an open flame on a gas burner until it is evenly blistered with black spots (alternatively, place the pepper on a sheet pan and broil, skin-side-up, in your oven until blistered). Place the pepper in a bowl, cover with foil, and allow to steam for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, drain the sun-dried tomatoes from the jar, reserving the oil.

Pour 1 cup of the broth into the bow of a high-powered blender. Add the garlic, tomatoes, onion, and drained sun-dried tomatoes.

Once the pepper is done steaming and has cooled enough to handle, run it under cool water and rub off any parts of the outer skin which come off easily. Add the pepper to the blender, cover, and puree until smooth.

Heat 2 tablespoons of the reserved oil in a medium sauce pan set over medium heat. Once the oil is shimmering, carefully pour in the soup. Allow to

cook, stirring constantly, until it begins to darken in color (about 2-3 minutes).

Stir in the remaining broth and allow the mixture to come to a boil while continually stirring. Turn the heat down to simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes or until the onion has lost its raw taste. Stir in tomato paste and quick flour. Season with the sugar, salt, and pepper. Taste and add additional salt as needed. Top with chopped basil.

Serve with grilled cheese sandwiches (below)

FRENCH ONION GRILLED CHEESE SANDWICHES

INGREDIENTS:

  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature, or more as needed.
  • 1 Vidalia or sweet onion diced.
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme.
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder or 1 pkg Lipton Onion soup mix.
  • Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper
  • 4 ounces mild Cheddar slices (about 6 slices)
  • 4 ounces Swiss cheese slices (about 6 slices)
  • 6 slices white country or sour dough bread.

INSTRUCTIONS:

Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion, thyme, onion powder and a pinch of salt and pepper to the skillet and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions soften and brown, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove the onions to a bowl and leave the skillet on low heat.

Place one slice of Cheddar and one slice of Swiss on each piece of bread. Top 3 of the slices with the onion mixture, then sandwich with the other cheesed breads, making 3 sandwiches. Spread about 2 tablespoons butter on the tops of the sandwiches, just enough to cover the tops in a thin layer. Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons in the skillet (adding more if it looks dry). Place the sandwiches butter-side up in the skillet. Cook on one side until golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes, then flip and cook the buttered side for another 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from the skillet and cut crosswise into strips—great for dipping in soup! Serve immediately or keep in a warm oven in aluminum foil until ready to use.

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