Soup’er Bowl Splurges

Soup’er Bowl Splurges

Julia Child once said, “Fat gives things flavor,” and I wholeheartedly agree. But, unless you’re a triathlete, you can’t eat whatever you want whenever you want. Most people, myself included, need to sustain a healthy balance between fit and fun. With that being said, I’m not going to pretend that the following recipes are in the least bit healthy. Because they aren’t. I mean, not even a little bit. But they’re good. Really good. And that’s what “splurges” are for, right? Eating good food that’s bad for you. So forget about the healthy snacks on Sunday and indulge in one of these crowd-pleasing favorites. Come Monday you can always stuff yourself with salad and spend an extra hour on the treadmill.

Baked Hawaiian Roll Ham Sandwiches

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This is a great lunchtime treat that you can make a day ahead, put in the fridge, then pop into the oven right before halftime. — You can halve the recipe for a smaller group, but I guarantee you’ll want leftovers! (Recipe slightly adapted from King’s Hawaiian)

Baked Hawaiian Roll Ham Sandwich

Serves 12

2 – 12 pack King’s Hawaiian Bread Rolls
1 lb. paper thin shaved ham
8 oz. Swiss cheese slices (about 10 slices)

Glaze:
¾ cup butter, melted
2 tsp. Dijon mustard
1 ½ tsp. Worcestershire sauce
2 Tbsp. dried onions
2 tsp poppy seeds

Melt butter, then whisk together with all the other glaze ingredients, set aside.

Slice the entire pack of rolls in half, horizontally, keeping rolls in tact.

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Lightly mist 2 – 9×13 inch baking dishes with cooking spray. Lay bottom half of rolls in the first dish.

Evenly distribute half of ham over bread.

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Layer cheese on top of ham.

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Place tops of rolls over the ham and cheese, then drizzle half of the glaze evenly over sandwiches. Using a spoon, scoop glaze from bottom of dish back over the tops of the rolls until evenly covered, lightly pressing on the tops to help them absorb the glaze. Repeat with second package of rolls and remaining ham, cheese, and glaze.

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Cover and refrigerate overnight. (*Note, this is an important step as it allows the glaze to fully saturate the buns).

Before baking, let the sandwiches come to room temperature for 1 hour. Cover with tin foil and bake at 350°F for 15 minutes, then remove foil and bake for another 2-3 minutes until tops begin to brown.

Cut sandwiches along the seams and dish out with a spatula.

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Bacon & Cheese Ranch Pull-Apart Bread

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This fun appetizer is always a hit when I serve it — each bite-sized cube packs a mouthful of cheesy-bacony-Ranchy goodness.

Bacon & Cheese Ranch Pull-Apart Bread

1 large, round sourdough bread loaf
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
2-3 oz. real bacon bits
1 package Ranch dressing mix
1 cup milk (whole or 2% works best)
1 cup mayonnaise

Preheat oven to 350°F.

In a bowl, whisk the contents of 1 Ranch dressing package together with milk and mayo. Place in refrigerator for 15 minutes to thicken.

Meanwhile, with a sharp bread knife, slice sourdough loaf lengthwise into 1-inch strips, cutting down to the bottom crust, but not all the way through. Turn the loaf and cut 1-inch strips in the other direction, creating cubes.

Carefully separate the bread cubes and sprinkle half of cheese and bacon into the seams, distributing evenly. Pour Ranch dressing over the loaf and into the seams (if you don’t use all of the dressing, reserve it for dipping later). Sprinkle remaining cheese and bacon evenly over the top of loaf.

Place on a baking sheet and bake for 15-18 minutes, or until cheese is melted and starting to bubble.

Serve on a large platter with extra Ranch dressing for dipping.

And, here’s a close-up…

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Zesty Tomato Soup with Balsamic Reduction, Fried Sage; Open-Face Tuna Melt

Zesty Tomato Soup with Balsamic Reduction and Fried Sage Leaf
Served with Tuna Melt Toast and Arugula Salad

Zesty Tomato Soup with Balsamic Reduction and Fried Sage

This is one of my all-time favorite soup recipes. My mom used to serve a version of this every Christmas, and after a while, the family started referring to it as, “Christmas Soup.” The recipe has evolved over the years with the addition of orange zest and balsamic vinegar, and is now no longer relegated to being served exclusively on December 25th. (Note: the recipe can easily be adapted to suit a vegetarian by substituting vegetable broth for the chicken stock.)

Serves 6

1 Tbsp. olive oil
2 Tbsp. butter, cut into cubes
1 white onion, coarsely chopped
2 celery stalks, coarsely chopped
2 carrots, peeled and coarsely chopped
4 cloves garlic, peeled and slightly crushed
3 fresh sage leaves finely chopped
28 oz. can peeled whole tomatoes, drained, liquid reserved
1 ½ tsp. freshly grated orange zest (about 1 large orange)
2 bay leaves
4 cups chicken or vegetable stock (see recipe in Homemade Stocks)
6 oz. can tomato paste
8 whole cloves
2 Tbsp. brown sugar
1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
1 ¼ cup whole milk
2 tsp. Kosher salt, plus more to taste
Fresh ground black pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 325°. In a large glass baking dish, combine onion, celery, carrots, garlic, orange zest, chopped sage leaves, bay leaves, drained tomatoes, and olive oil. Season with 1 tsp. salt and dot the top with butter cubes (Figure 1). Bake for 75 minutes, stirring half way through.

Figure 1 – Slow roasting tomatoes and vegetables

Slow roasted tomatoes

Remove baking dish from oven and let cool slightly. Find bay leaves and set aside. Pour tomato/vegetable mixture into a soup pot with ¼ cup reserved tomato juice, and using a hand blender, purée until smooth (or working in two batches, purée tomato/vegetable mixture and ¼ cup reserved tomato juice in a blender or food processor until smooth, then pour into soup pot). Use more tomato juice to thin if necessary.

Add tomato paste, chicken stock, balsamic vinegar, brown sugar, 1 tsp. salt, fresh cracked pepper, whole cloves, and reserved bay leaves to tomato/vegetable purée. Simmer for 1 hour partially covered, stirring occasionally, until soup thickens. Add milk and simmer for an additional 15 minutes. With a slotted spoon, remove bay leaves and whole cloves, discard. Season with more salt and pepper if desired.

When ready to serve, ladle soup into pre-warmed bowls, drizzle with balsamic reduction and top with a fried sage leaf.

Balsamic Reduction:

1 cup balsamic vinegar
1 tsp. honey
1 garlic clove, peeled
1 sage leaf
2 whole cloves

In a heavy sauce pan, bring all ingredients to a boil, then immediately reduce to a simmer. Continue to simmer, watching closely, until liquid is reduced to ¼ cup, about 30-40 minutes. Pour reduction through a fine-mesh sieve and allow to cool before using.

Fried Sage Leaves:

Fried Sage Leaves

6-8 fresh sage leaves
¼ cup olive oil
Flaky sea salt, such as Maldon

In a heavy skillet over medium-high heat, heat oil until shimmering. Gently place sage leaves in oil and fry until leaves stop bubbling and are crispy but not burned, about 8-10 seconds. Transfer leaves to a paper towel. Sprinkle with salt.

Sidekicks: 

  • Consider serving a cup of Zesty Tomato Soup with an Open-Face Tuna Melt: Slice French bread on the diagonal. Drain a 12 oz. can of tunafish and combine in a bowl with ¼ cup mayonnaise, 2 Tbsp. dijon mustard, 1 tsp. soy sauce, 1 tsp. worcestershire sauce, and 1 finely chopped shallot. Season with salt and pepper. Spread a heaping spoonful of tuna mixture on the bread, and cover with a slice of sharp cheddar cheese. Place slices on a cookie sheet and broil until cheese has melted and is bubbly at the edges. Top with a handful of arugula dressed with equal parts olive oil and white wine vinegar, season with salt and pepper and enjoy!
  • This soup pairs well with a chilled glass of Sauvignon Blanc or Chardonnay.

Shortcuts:

  • Substitute store-bought stock for homemade stock.
  • Instead of roasting tomatoes and vegetables in the oven, replace 28 oz. can of whole peeled tomatoes with a 28 oz. can of fire roasted whole peeled tomatoes. Start by sautéing the onion, carrots, celery, and garlic in butter and oil directly in your soup pot. Once vegetables are soft and starting to brown, about 10-15 minutes, add the drained tomatoes, orange zest, and herbs. Cook for 15 minutes, then allow to cool slightly before following the instructions on puréeing.