Aired December 21, 2012
EVOO - Extra-Virgin Olive Oil, for drizzling plus 2 tablespoons
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon fresh thyme
1 onion, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 quart chicken stock
1 28-ounce can Italian fire-roasted tomatoes
1 teaspoon sugar
10 leaves basil, torn
3/4 cup sliced almonds, toasted
8 slices white bread
4 ounces Manchego cheese
12 slices Serrano ham
Heat oven to 300F. Arrange tomatoes on a rack set on a baking sheet so heat can circulate around the tomatoes. Drizzle with EVOO and season with salt, pepper and thyme. Roast 2 hours.
Heat a large soup pot over medium-high heat with 2 turns of the pan of EVOO, about 2 tablespoons
To the soup pot, add the onion, carrots, garlic and some salt and pepper. Cook, stirring every now and then for 8-10 minutes, until veggies start to get tender and slightly caramelized. Add the oven-roasted tomatoes, chicken stock, fire-roasted tomatoes, sugar and basil. Bring up to a bubble and simmer for about 20 minutes.
Pure soup in batches with the toasted almonds -- this with give it a nutty and creamy texture and flavor, without having to use any cream at all!
Preheat a panini press or place a large skillet over medium-high heat. Lay down a slice of cheese on four of the slices of bread and top each with a few slices of Serrano and another slice of cheese. Cap them off with the remaining slices bread.
Place the sandwiches in the press or a preheated skillet drizzled with EVOO and grill until toasted and heated through, and cheese is melted (if using the skillet, butter both sides of bread, weigh the sandwich down with another pan and flip it over once one side is toasted). Cut the sandwiches up and serve alongside bowls of soup.