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A top-down photo of a bowl of red tomato soup in a white bowl.

Yesterday I shared with you The World's Best Grilled Cheese Sandwich, made with garlicky greens, caramelized onion, and brie. It's only fitting that you have The World's Best Tomato Soup recipe to go with it. The two are a match made in heaven.

A Word About Canned Tomatoes

I've driven Interstate Five through California's agricultural regions many times. Enough times to see truckloads of produce pulling off the highway into the many canneries there. May I tell you that not all canned tomatoes are of the same quality? I've observed truckload after truckload of hard pink balls in the truck-trailers. It's not hard to know how they will perform in flavor and texture next to their red, ripe cousins. My practical observation is that you truly get what you pay for in canned tomatoes. Unless you use a lot of canned tomatoes, the price differential is relatively small. It might not make that much difference in a stew with lots of other flavors, but here's my rule of thumb: If the word tomato is in the title of the food I'm making, like tomato sauce, for example or the world's best tomato soup, I spend the extra dollar.

Making the World's Best Tomato Soup

tomato soup with garlicky greens and brie grilled cheese sandwich

First, lets talk equipment. This is a time when an immersion blender is more than handy. Yes, you can blend the soup in batches in either a food processor or blender. However, a stick blender will get the job done and reduce the amount of cleanup you'll have. I've not met a cook yet who would argue with that!

Because it's still late winter I used dried herbs and a bay leaf, which also gets blended into the soup, but in the growing season, trade those herbs out for fresh basil, fresh thyme, or any of the tender, leafy herbs that suit you.

Two other touches make the soup extra special. I save parmesan rinds for times like this. Just throw one in during the short simmering period for an extra flavor boost. The rind will soften and become somewhat gooey looking, but holds together just fine and can easily be fished out prior to blending. If you don't have a parm rind on hand that's just fine. The soup is still lovely so don't let that stop you from making it. The second bit of magic comes with a hearty drizzle of balsamic vinegar as a finishing touch.

The olive oil in here gives it a creamy texture and appearance, but if you love a splash of milk or cream in your tomato soup, by all means use it.

If you like this recipe, please leave it a star rating by clicking on the green stars below the title in the recipe card below. If you like the 101-Mile Kitchen project, I'd be honored if you subscribed to the newsletter!

A platter holding all the ingredients for The World's Best Tomato Soup
a top-down photo of a bowl of red tomato soup in a white bowl.

The World's Best Tomato Soup

Course: Appetizer, Main Dish, Quick + Easy, Soup + Stew
Cuisine: American
Season: All Season
Dietary: Gluten-Free
Preparation: Fast + Easy, One Pot/One Pan
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
Servings: 4
A few special touches make this recipe the only one you need for The World's Best Tomato Soup!
Print Recipe

Ingredients

  • 3 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large onion, peeled and diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ teaspoon dried thyme
  • ½ teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 Tbsp. flour, rice flour, or 1-to-1 GF flour
  • 1 28 oz. can whole tomatoes and their juice
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 parmesan rind, optional
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ground black pepper to taste
  • 2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar

Instructions

  • Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the diced onion and sauté until the onion has softened and is starting to become translucent. Add the garlic, thyme, basil and bay leaf and sauté another 2-3 minutes. Add the flour and sauté, stirring for another 2-3 minutes.
  • Add the tomatoes and their juices, the water, optional parmesan rind, salt, and pepper and bring to a simmer. Cover, and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Remove the parmesan rind and blend the soup using an immersion blender, food processor, or blender. If using a food processor or blender, blend in batches. Blend until the soup is fairly smooth, but still has a slight amount of tomato texture. Remove from the heat and stir in the balsamic vinegar. Serve piping hot.
tomato soup with garlicky greens and brie grilled cheese sandwich

I often make soup and some kind of grilled sandwich or panini for supper in the cool weather months, and this week's sandwich was a true hit. Garlicky greens and caramelized onion grilled cheese made with creamy brie is a rather fancy sandwich. I'm going so far to say this is the world's best grilled cheese to date.

Inspiration for Special Grilled Cheese

In my town there is one special spot that adds so much to my experience of living here. Provisions Market Hall is a beautiful place full of gastronomical goodness and so much more. Inside is a gorgeous florist, a wine shop, a beautiful kitchen and gift shop, a specialty foods grocery complete with lovely cheeses and charcuterie, freshly baked breads and pastries, wood oven baked pizzas with bubbly crusts, a coffee shop, and delicious lunch items. Provisions is a place of visual wonder, yes, but also offers practical support to the entire spectrum of us who cook and offer hospitality at home. When you visit Eugene, you just must visit Provisions.

I met a friend for lunch there last week ordered their chard and brie grilled sandwich special. It was so delicious I couldn't wait to try making it at home. I used kale because that's what I had on hand. Chard, kale, or even spicy mustard greens would each be gladly received in this glorious sandwich.

If you're a fan of the classic tomato soup and grilled cheese combination, this is the sandwich you'll want going forward. The slightly bitter greens, sweet earthy caramelized onion, and bloomy brie are the perfect foil to tomato soup. Tomorrow I'll share my recipe for the best tomato soup so you'll have the matched set.

Making the Garlicky Greens and Caramelized Onion Grilled Cheese

There is nothing tricky here. Caramelize a few onions, cook some greens, and layer them on top of brie. Using a really good bread will also make a difference, so try for that, too.

grilled greens, onion, and brie sandwich with bowl of tomato soup

Other Soups to Serve with Garlicky Greens and Caramelized Onion Grilled Cheese

World's Best Tomato Soup. Get the recipe here.
Winter White Vegetable Soup. Get the recipe here.
Pumpkin Black Bean Soup. Get the recipe here.

ingredients needed for garlicky greens, caramelized onion, and brie grilled cheese sandwich
tomato soup with garlicky greens and brie grilled cheese sandwich

Garlicky Greens, Caramelized Onion, and Brie Grilled Cheese

Course: Appetizer, Main Dish, Quick + Easy
Cuisine: American, French
Season: All Season
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
Servings: 2 to 3 sandwiches
This gussied-up grilled cheese sandwich levels up your tomato soup and grilled cheese game.
Print Recipe

Ingredients

  • 2 large onions peeled and thinly sliced
  • 5 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 bunch chard, kale, or mustard greens ribs removed, chopped into about 1" pieces
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • salt + pepper to taste
  • teaspoons red wine vinegar
  • sliced pain de mie or artisan bread, 2 per person
  • 5-6 ounces brie, sliced ¼" thick

Instructions

  • In a large skillet heat 2 Tbsp. olive oil over medium high heat. Place the sliced onions in the skillet, sprinkle on several pinches of salt, and allow them to sit undisturbed for several minutes. When the bottom is beginning to brown, turn them, and once again allow them to brown undisturbed for several minutes. Continue this for about 15 minutes until the onions are soft and golden brown throughout.
  • While the onions are caramelizing, in another large skillet heat another 2 Tbsp. olive oil over medium high heat. Place the chopped greens in the skillet, and sprinkle with a few pinches of salt and pepper. Add the minced garlic. Sauté, stirring occasionally, until the greens have cooked down about 1/3, or are beginning to soften, about 5-6 minutes. Stir in the vinegar.
  • Lay the bread out on a work surface, and lay slices of brie on one side. Divide the sautéed greens among the sandwiches over the brie, then divide the caramelized onions over the brie. Cover each sandwich with its remaining bread slice.
  • Wipe out the skillet that the greens were cooked in with a paper towel, and heat the remaining Tbsp. olive oil in it over medium heat. Place the sandwiches in the skillet and cook each side until golden brown and crispy. Cut sandwiches in half and serve with tomato soup or simple salad or fruit.

Notes

Left over cooked greens and caramelized onions store well for 3-4 days in the refrigerator. 
bowl of green goddess mac and cheese on a green plate.

Adulting has been especially challenging this week, and comfort food has been as important as ever. Green Goddess Macaroni and Cheese has that magical combination of being carb-y, cheesy-gooey, and packed full of good-for-you stuff that ensures that if this is all you eat for a week, you'll at least be getting your vegetables.

This recipe amps up the adult factor with the addition of Dijon mustard and a few anchovies to the cheesy base. These additions offer an exciting depth of flavor snuggled up with the same cozy familiarity you expect from good ol' macaroni and cheese.

How Can I Help?

When the going gets tough for friends and family we ask, "How can I help?" Often the response is something like, "Well, there's nothing anyone can really do except send your love/ good energy/ healing thoughts/ prayers." I'm a big fan of asking the universe to surround my beloveds in need, but when I hear that there's nothing I can physically do to help it is frustrating to not DO something.

This week the shoe is on the other foot. I have been on the other side of those words how can I help? and have learned their hidden power.

Even when there is nothing practical others can do to help, the willingness of a friend to accept a small chunk of my burden has a remarkable effect. Every person who asks this forms a network of support and love that lessens my emotional weight. Every one of the beautiful souls who steps forward to ask how can I help? becomes an invisible army around us-- my family and me.

So never be discouraged if there's "nothing you can do". Your presence, your calls, your prayers and good juju are so important. So impactful. So encouraging. Such a display of kindness. Love personified, even.

And, if you can, show up with a dish like this one so your loved one is sure to eat their vegetables all wrapped up in the comfort of good ol' macaroni and cheese.

What Wine Should I Pair with Green Goddess Macaroni and Cheese?

Anchovies and Dijon mustard make this recipe incredibly wine-friendly, not that plain mac and cheese needs a lot of help with that! And this week there definitely has been wine! We found the 2020 Conde Valdemar Blanco Rioja from Valdemar Estates Winery in Walla Walla, Washington to be a better than perfect pairing. It is light, clean, and refreshing-- in other words, a wonderful foil to the rich cheese dish. This is truly a joyful wine.

Making Green Goddess Macaroni and Cheese

I used to always make mac and cheese with this ratio:
One pound pasta/ 4 tablespoons flour/ 4 tablespoons butter/ 4 cups milk/ 4 cups (one pound) shredded cheese. This ratio feeds a tribe.

Since most of us here are feeding one, two, three or four people on a daily basis I've revised my formula:
One-half pound pasta/ 2 tablespoons butter/ 2 tablespoons flour/ 2 cups milk/ 2 cups (1/2 pound) shredded cheese. In our household, that makes enough for a very handy two meals apiece. If you are feeding a bigger household, guests, or a gathering, just double the recipe as it is written.

Yes, there are little anchovy fishies tucked into this dish. Umami, friend! Do give them a try. Adding the raw broccoli florets to the mixture right before baking keeps them a wee bit crunchy and not lost in the creamy pasta. The crispy topping adds a wonderful textural note, too. You may be tempted to forgo that part, but it is a low-effort-high-reward addition.

You'll also note that I used our local favorite Tillamook Creamery Cheddar and Monterey Jack cheeses in this dish. If you don't have a local cheesemaker near you, these are worth seeking out.

platter of ingredients necessary for green goddess macaroni and cheese

Other Comfort Foods for When the Going Gets Rough. . .

. . . for you, or for those you love:
Carrot Risotto with Green Garlic Sauce: Recipe Here.
Easy Winter White Vegetable Soup and Infinite Variations: Recipe Here.

a serving bowl of green goddess macaroni and cheese on a green plate.

Green Goddess Macaroni + Cheese

Course: Main Dish, Quick + Easy, Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Season: All Season
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes
Servings: 4
Familiar comfort food, with a green goddess veggie twist.
Print Recipe

Ingredients

Green Goddess Macaroni and Cheese

  • 8 oz. macaroni other small pasta regular or gluten free
  • 2 Tbsp. butter
  • ½ onion, finely diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 oil-packed anchovies, drained and mined (optional)
  • 1 large stems broccoli, stem peeled and diced, florets broken apart
  • 2 Tbsp. all-purpose or rice flour use rice four of GF 1- to- 1 flour for GF
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. finely ground black pepper
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
  • 6 oz. fresh spinach
  • 8 oz. grated cheddar, Monterey jack, or pepper jack cheese (2 cups) or a mix of any of these to equal 2 cups

Crispy Garlic Lemon Topping

  • ½ cup panko regular or gluten free
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • zest of one lemon
  • 1 clove garlic, grated into bowl

Instructions

Make the Topping

  • Combine all ingredients in a small bowl, and stir thoroughly. Set aside.

Make the Mac and Cheese

  • Preheat the oven to 350°. Put a pot of salted water on to boil for the macaroni. Cook the macaroni according to package directions.
  • In a large saucepan or Dutch oven, melt the butter. Add the diced onion, garlic, anchovies, and diced broccoli stems. (Reserve the broccoli florets for later.) Sauté over medium-high heat until the vegetables are tender, about five minutes.
  • Stir in the flour and salt and pepper. Add the milk and Dijon mustard, and continue stirring as the mixture thickens and begins to bubble, about 5-6 minutes.
  • Stir the spinach into the milk mixture until it is wilted. Use a blender (working in batches) or a immersion blender right in the pot to blend the vegetables into the milk mixture, turning it green. Stir in the cheese until it it completely melted. Stir in the broccoli florets. Pour the ingredients into a 9" x 13" baking dish.
  • Spread the crispy topping over the macaroni mixture. Bake until hot and bubbly, and the edges begin to brown. Allow to set 5 minutes before serving.

Notes

Don't let the anchovies scare you. They add a depth of flavor (nothing fishy) and elevate this dish to a wonderful adult comfort food!
olive oil drop biscuits on a plate next to a bottle of wine.

For every aspirational, time-consuming, detail-laden recipe in a cook's repertoire, she needs ten like this one in her bag of tricks. These 20-minute, one bowl Quickie Olive Oil Drop Biscuits have elevated so many meals in my lifetime. They are a perfect last-minute additional to all the soups and stews of the season. The biscuits also compliment any main-dish salad, and are a great way to stretch a meal when guests pop in (like back in the BC days.) Really, they are perfect wherever a dinner roll or biscuit would fit.

A fun trick is to make the biscuits small, dropped from a dinner spoon instead of a soup spoon, and serve them as an appetizer or snack with a glass of wine, an American version of gougères.

A plateful of quickie olive oil drop biscuits.

What is to love about these golden mounds of goodness?

A plateful of three olive oil biscuits, one with a bite taken out.
Olive Oil Drop Biscuits are a bit crispy on the outside, tender + fluffy on the inside.

Selling point number one-- quickie olive oil drop biscuits are made in lightening speed. As in, begin preheating your oven now, and your biscuits will be mixed and formed before the oven is up to heat. There are only four primary ingredients to gather and measure here. Using olive oil eliminates the step of cutting in butter. Without the need to roll out and cut the dough like a typical biscuit you save that time, and a lot of cleanup by keeping everything contained in one bowl and not spread all over the counter.

Next, you'll fall head-over-heels for them because they are highly customizable. Olive oil drop biscuits without any of the optional add-ins are deliciously simple, and they become even more remarkable with the addition of some cheese, fresh or dried herbs, or better yet, both cheese and herbs. Any cheese that can be crumbled with your fingers or grated works here, and I often use a combination of cheeses just to use up the left-over nubbins.

Lastly, I love this recipe for olive oil droppers because it makes a relatively small batch. Did you know that in 2020, 53% of American households has one or two members? Most of us can't use a dozen biscuits. This fact is something I'm taking note of more and more when developing recipes, and you should see a change in the recipe sizes on these pages.

Serve your quickie olive oil biscuits alongside these recipes:

Any of the variations of Winter White Vegetable Soup: Get recipe here.
Healing Chickpea Orzo Bowl in Ginger Broth: Get recipe here.
Roasted Mushroom, Grain, + Spinach Salad. Get recipe here.
Roasted Peppers, White Beans, Feta + Simple Herb Sauce, made sheet-pan-style instead of grilled. Get recipe here.

all the ingredients needed to make quickie olive oil drop biscuits.
So few ingredients for so much quick and easy goodness!
A plateful of quickie olive oil drop biscuits

Quickie Olive Oil Biscuits

Course: Appetizer, Bread + Rolls, Quick + Easy
Season: All Season
Dietary: Egg-Free, Nut-Free, Vegan
Preparation: Baking, Fast + Easy
Prep Time: 8 minutes
Cook Time: 12 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Servings: 8 biscuits
These lightning fast, crispy on the outside, tender on the inside drop biscuits are the perfect "little something" to round out a meal. Delicious plain, or with the cheese and herb add-ins. You'll have them mixed up before your oven preheats!
Print Recipe

Ingredients

  • cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup milk or non-dairy milk
  • 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (equal to ⅓ cup + 1 tablespoon)

Optional Add-Ins

  • cup crumbly or grated cheese Parmesan, cheddar, gruyere, blue, fontina, gouda, etc.
  • fresh or dried herbs of your choice thyme, chives, rosemary, Italian seasoning, oregano, basil, cumin, etc.

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 425°. Line a baking sheet with parchment of a silicone baking mat. In a medium mixing bowl whisk together the dry ingredients. If you are using any cheese or herbs, stir them into the dry ingredients.
  • Pour the milk and olive oil over the dry ingredients at the same time, and quickly and gently stir until the dry ingredients are incorporated. This will leave a somewhat shaggy dough. Don't overmix.
  • Drop the biscuits by spoonful onto the parchment or mat. Sprinkle the tops with a little more cheese, if you'd like. Bake for 10-12 minutes until the biscuits are golden brown and the tops bounce back up when lightly pressed. Cool on a rack, and serve.

Notes

These speedy drop biscuits are best eaten right out of the oven. If you have any leftover, rewarm them for a few minutes on an oven or toaster for best texture. Leftovers are also good for breakfast, toasted with butter and jam.

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Welcome!

Photo of 101-Mile Kitchen blog owner.

You’re in the right place!  I’m Pam Spettel, home cooking expert and guide, and I’m here to show you how to break up with cooking and hospitality anxiety, learn how to use recipes as guides rather than strict rules, and let your cooking intuition and confidence soar.

Superpower: Dreaming up recipes that work, serving them to my friends and family, and writing little stories about how cooking them well is the same as loving well.

Inspiration: Ingredients! The fresh, colorful, fragrant, local, seasonal ingredients found in the Pacific Northwest are my creative medium.

Heroes: Local food and wine producers– the people who keep me, my family, and our community nourished and happy.

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