- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 onion, chopped
- 2 ribs celery with leafy tops, finely chopped
- 2 to 3 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 2 cups chicken stock
- 2 cans Italian tomatoes
- 2 cups passata or tomato purée
- A handful basil leaves, torn
- 4 tablespoons butter, softened
- 1 tablespoon EVOO – Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 2 cloves garlic, grated
- 2 tablespoons flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
- 1/2 cup grated Parm cheese
- 8 to 12 slices white bread
- 4 to 6 slices mild provolone
- 4 to 6 slices deli-sliced mozzarella, white American or white mild cheddar
For the soup, heat a soup pot over medium-low to medium heat with oil, 3 turns of the pan. Add onions, celery, garlic and chili flakes, season with a little salt and cook gently for 15 minutes to soften, stirring frequently. Add stock and raise heat to medium-high. Add tomatoes and break them up with wooden spoon; add passata and simmer 35-40 minutes to break down tomatoes. Purée soup with an immersion blender or in batches in a blender until smooth; adjust salt to taste.
For the sandwiches, stir together the butter, EVOO, garlic, parsley and grated cheese. Lightly butter 1 side of each slice of bread then build cheese sandwiches using both cheeses, with the buttered sides of the bread facing out. Grill sandwiches on a hot griddle over medium heat to deep golden.
Tear basil and stir into soup. Cut sandwiches corner to corner and serve alongside soup.