Tomato Bisque and Grilled Cheese



This has been on my to-make list for quite a while and I thought I'd try my hand at it before the weather got any warmer.  I've never made tomato bisque before, but to my surprise it was really easy and am pleased with the results.  I decided to pair it with a simple grilled cheese sandwich with mozzarella.  I usually enjoy a mixture of cheeses but this was all I had at home.  To add a little bit more flavor and contrast I spread Trader Joe's olive tapenade on one side.  I baked the bread at home yesterday and it added a nice texture than the usual sliced bread.  I definitely recommend using an artisan bread over grocery store sandwich bread.  It easily takes your grilled cheese from a 2 to a 7, even more if you use a mixture of cheeses. And be liberal with your butter!  Butter makes everything tastier.  Also, if I haven't mentioned it enough times already, if you're interested in baking bread but don't know where to start I definitely suggest using the Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes book!
Tomato Bisque
Adapted from the Food Network Kitchens
1 tbsp butter
1/2 onion, diced
2 strips of bacon, cut into small strips
1 carrot, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 1/2 tbsp flour
2 1/2 cups chicken broth
3 large roma tomatoes, cut into quarters
1 bay leaf
1/3 cup heavy cream
salt and pepper to taste
brown sugar to taste, about 1 tbsp
2 tbsp tomato paste
Heat the butter in a large soup over medium-high heat, then add the bacon until most of the fat has rendered, about 1 minute. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon onto a paper towel-lined plate, . Lower the heat to medium and add the onion, carrot, and garlic and cover.  Stir occasionally until everything has softened, about 3-4 minutes.
Sprinkle in the flour while stirring until it's fully incorporated, about 1 minute. Add the chicken broth and tomatoes and stir together.  Add the bay leaf.  Turn heat to low and let simmer for about 15-20 minutes.
Turn off flame, then out the bay leaf.  Using an immersion blender, puree the mixture until smooth.  Add brown sugar and mix in thoroughly. Whisk in heavy cream.  Add salt and pepper to taste, and add back the bacon if you wish!