French Onion Soup & Pressed Caprese Sandwiches

What goes better together than soup and sandwiches? This is a great quick dinner, and no complaints from the kids (well at least no complaints about sandwiches). The french onion soup is a recipe that I have been using for a while, straight from the Food Network - Tyler Florence's recipe actually, and I have found very little that needs to be changed. In fact, I would recommend leaving it as is, but sometimes it is nearly impossible to find or afford Gruyere cheese, if that is the case then just go with Swiss (if you like the sharp flavor) or Muenster (if you like it a little more mild).

French Onion Soup


1/2 cup unsalted butter
4 onions, sliced
2 garlic cloves, chopped
2 bay leaves
2 fresh thyme sprigs
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup red wine, about 1/2 bottle
3 heaping tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 quarts beef broth
1 baguette, sliced
1/2 pound grated Gruyere


Melt the stick of butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onions, garlic, bay leaves, thyme, and salt and pepper and cook until the onions are very soft and caramelized, about 25 minutes. Add the wine, bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer until the wine has evaporated and the onions are dry, about 5 minutes. Discard the bay leaves and thyme sprigs. Dust the onions with the flour and give them a stir. Turn the heat down to medium low so the flour doesn't burn, and cook for 10 minutes to cook out the raw flour taste. Now add the beef broth, bring the soup back to a simmer, and cook for 10 minutes. Season, to taste, with salt and pepper.
When you're ready to eat, preheat the broiler. Arrange the baguette slices on a baking sheet in a single layer. Sprinkle the slices with the Gruyere and broil until bubbly and golden brown, 3 to 5 minutes.
Ladle the soup in bowls and float several of the Gruyere croutons on top.
Alternative method: Ladle the soup into bowls, top each with 2 slices of bread and top with cheese. Put the bowls into the oven to toast the bread and melt the cheese.

Pressed Caprese Sandwiches

These are also called Pannini's but since I don't have a pannini press I prefer to call them "pressed". I am weird I know. I love the simplicity of the caprese match up - thick ripe tomato slices, fresh mozzarella, and fresh basil..... mmmm... For the bread - you need a heartier bread than a french or Italian loaf. Look for a pugliese or something similar in the bakery department of the grocery store and the bakery people will slice it for you with their handy dandy slicing machine if you ask nice.


1 loaf crusty artisan bread
3 Ripe red tomatoes (never refrigerate, unless you like mealy flavorless tomatoes)
1 pkg FRESH mozzarella (don't buy precious brand, it is strangely bitter, and mozzarella should be almost     sweet)
12 Leaves of fresh basil
Olive Oil
Salt & Pepper


Heat a George Foreman grill, or whatever you would use to make a grilled cheese sandwich. Slice tomatoes and mozzarella to the same thickness, about 1/8" thick. Wash and dry the basil leaves. Using a basting brush lightly coat one side of a slice of bread and set on the hot pan or griddle. Layer the cheese,then basil then tomato, lightly salt and pepper the tomatoes, then put on the top slice of bread, that has also been oiled. Press the sandwiches with the lid of the foreman or with the back of a heavy spatula. You want then to look a little flat and semi-smashed. Cook until both sides are a beautiful golden brown. Cut down the middle and enjoy. 
Small variation: One day, I was feeling especially creative and I put these sandwiches on our gas BBQ, and let me just tell you - it was the best way I have ever had these sandwiches! If you are up for it - try it!

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