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Add a little gourmet to your kitchen by making cold tomato soup (Spanish-style!) and grilled Brie sandwiches on a tasty baguette. With a little time and effort, you can turn tried-and-true into new and exciting.

Tomato Soup and Brie Sandwiches Menu pic

My husband's family is from Spain, so the cold tomato soup known as gazpacho is a summer staple in my mother-in-law's kitchen. Salmorejo is a lesser known version, which ups the kid-friendly factor by eliminating vegetables like green pepper and onion from the recipe. One of the key ingredients in salmorejo is a good Spanish extra-virgin olive oil. Spaniards and Italians are probably willing to come to blows over which country produces the best olive oil, but for the Spaniards in my family it's no contest. Our relatives actually own olive groves in Spain and produce olive oil under the brand Monte Olivos. The brand is just starting to be imported into the States. Lucky me, I have an entire case of samples in my pantry! My favorite is the unfiltered, a delicate green-colored olive oil that actually tastes like the olives it came from. It adds a terrific flavor to this salmorejo recipe, and you can use it to spray the grill for the Brie sandwiches also. Regardless of which brand you use, choosing top-quality olive oil makes a big difference in the taste.

The salmorejo requires about 30 minutes active preparation, and the sandwiches take about 15. Older kids can help with the preparation and running the blender for the soup (because doesn't a blender just sound like a big toy?) The recipes yield four servings. Feel free to double for big families and hungry mouths!

Salmorejo (Cold Tomato Soup from Córdoba, Spain)

2 eggs
1 (8 oz.) baguette, stale
1 large clove garlic
2 lbs ripe tomatoes
8 oz. extra virgin olive oil (Monte Olivos is our favorite!)
2 oz. red wine vinegar
salt to taste

Hard boil the eggs and place into the refrigerator to cool. Cut off hard crust from baguette, then cut into slices approximately 1/2-inch thick. Soak the bread in about 1/4-inch of water for 20 minutes. Mince the garlic. Peel the tomatoes (like you would an apple) and remove seeds (it's easy to do just with your thumbs). Remove excess water from bread when it's finished soaking. Place garlic, tomatoes, vinegar, and bread in the blender. Process.

Slowly pour in oil while processing. Continue to process until smooth. If mixture is too thick, pout in a bit of cold water. Refrigerate until ready to serve. When ready to serve, dice the hard-boiled eggs and garnish the soup with them. If you want to add a little kick, garnish with 2 oz. diced Serrano ham or prosciutto as well, but leave it out for meatless recipes.

Grilled Brie Sandwiches

Brie cheese
1 loaf of Italian bread
Extra-virgin olive oil

Slice the Italian bread and the Brie cheese into thin slices. Heat the grill and spray it lightly with the olive oil. There is no need to add butter to the outside of the bread, as you would in regular grilled cheese sandwiches. The Italian bread is very airy and the Brie already has a high fat content, so adding butter results in overkill and unpleasant gooeyness (is that even a word?). Grill the sandwiches for 2 to 3 minutes per side over medium to medium-high heat until the cheese melts and you get some light grill marks. Guaranteed to make you drool.

Some alternative ways to mix up the menu are to serve cold cucumber soup (also great in summer) and to add honey-mustard or apricot jam to the grilled Brie sandwiches. The extra kick to the sandwiches balances out the blander soup.


Copyright 2014 Karee Santos