It's a Keeper: Creamy Tomato Soup and Italian Patty Melts

For some reason, I usually only make tomato soup during Lent. I have no idea why, so I decided to break out of my rut and make it the middle of winter. This time, I tried Creamy Tomato Soup and Italian Patty Melts. Making both of them took me about 40 minutes, but it was an easy 40 minutes.

You can find these recipes in Cooking Round the Clock. I really recommend making both, since it turns into a filling and unique meal. I mean, how often do you make patty melts at home, much less Italian patty melts?

Here are the recipes with my comments in brackets:

4 cups whole milk [I use low-fat, but I doubt it makes that much of a difference]
3 (14-ounce) cans diced tomatoes, drained
2 rounded tablespoons tomato paste
1 medium onion, chopped
Salt and pepper
1 teaspoon sugar
4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons butter, cut in pieces
1 stalk of celery, coarsely chopped
1 clove garlic
1/2 cup Watercress and Hazelnut Pesto or store bought prepared basil pesto, available on dairy aisle [I just went for the store bought stuff]
Watercress and Hazelnut Pesto:
12 ounces watercress, stems removed
1/2 cup hazelnuts, toasted
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, eyeball it
2 cloves cracked garlic
1/4 teaspoon ground or grated nutmeg
Salt and pepper
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling, plus 1 tablespoon
4 sweet Italian sausage patties, 1/4 pound each, available in packaged meat case of the market [they didn't have sweet italian sausage patties at my store, so I bought the links and shaped each one into a patty]
1 cubanelle long sweet Italian light green pepper, seeded and sliced [you can substitute an anaheim pepper]
1 medium yellow skinned onion, sliced
Salt and pepper
8 slices Italian bread, or white bread
8 slices deli-sliced provolone

Heat the milk over moderate heat in a medium pot. Put tomatoes, tomato paste, onions, salt and pepper, sugar, flour, butter, celery into a food processor and grind until smooth. Pour mixture into milk and raise heat to bring soup to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 15 minutes. While soup cooks, make pesto and sammies.

[Skip this paragraph if you bought the pre-made pesto at the store.] Fill the food processor with watercress, loosely packed. Add hazelnuts, 1/2 of the oil and garlic cloves to the watercress in the processor. Add nutmeg, salt and pepper to the processor bowl, set lid in place and pulse grind the mixture into a thick paste. Add any remaining watercress to the processor and grind into the paste by pulsing the processor again. Transfer watercress paste to a bowl. Stir in the remaining oil and the cheese. Taste pesto sauce and adjust seasonings.

Heat a griddle over medium high heat. Drizzle the pan with extra-virgin olive oil and add the patties and cook 5 minutes on each side. Remove from the griddle and add another tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil and the peppers and onions. Season the peppers and onions and cook until just tender, 5 minutes. Remove them from the griddle. Wipe the griddle clean and reduce heat to medium low. [You could also use your Foreman Grill instead.]

Assemble sandwiches: place 4 slices of bread down, top with 1/4 each of the peppers onions, then a slice of cheese, a cooked sausage patty, another slice of cheese and then place bread on top. Add butter to griddle and cook sammy melts 2 or 3 minutes on each side until golden and cheese is melted. Press with spatula as sammies cook or set another heavy skillet on sammies to weigh them down.

Pour soup into shallow bowls and add a couple of rounded spoonfuls of pesto to each dish and stir it into the soup. Cut the patty melts corner to corner and dip in the soup as you eat.

A few more pictures:

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