It's finally starting to feel like winter! It's been pretty mild here in Pennsylvania and as much as we hate to admit it, we are looking forward to a real winter. Believe it or not, we had a seventy degree Christmas- unheard of! We love taking our girls to Panera Bread and most times our go-to item is the creamy tomato soup. We decided to make a huge pot at home that not only is fresher, but also saves us some money. Our girls will be taking some for lunch along side of grilled cheese sticks. Super kid friendly, healthy and filling. Enjoy!

Roasted Tomato Basil Soup

12 vine ripe tomatoes, quartered

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1 teaspoon Italian dried herbs seasoning

3 tablespoons good balsamic vinegar ( we use this one)

5 garlic cloves, whole

1 medium onion, quartered

1/4 cup fresh basil, torn

4 cups chicken stock

1 28 oz. can plum tomatoes

1 teaspoon sugar

1 cup heavy cream

Instructions

Toss the tomatoes with olive oil, salt, pepper, and seasoning in a bowl to coat. Place the tomatoes on a baking sheet, skin side down and drizzle with balsamic vinegar. Add the cloves and onion to the baking sheet. Roast on 400 for 25 minutes. 

Once the veggies have roasted, add them to a large saucepan after removing the skin from the tomatoes. Add the basil, chicken stock and canned tomatoes and simmer for an hour. After an hour, season with salt and pepper to taste. If too acidic, add a teaspoon of sugar. If you have an immersion blender, blend in the pit until smooth. If not, add the mixture in batches to a regular blender. Be careful not to fill the blender as it will splatter and will be hot! You should only fill it halfway. Add it back to the pot, add the heavy cream, and simmer for another five minutes.

Serve with fresh basil. Enjoy!

Pesto Grilled Cheese Sticks

Italian loaf

Pesto sauce

Italian shredded cheese blend

Instructions

Slice the bread in 1 inch pieces. Slather with pesto sauce and sprinkle a hefty amount of cheese. Slather another piece and sandwich the bread together. Brown on both sides. Cut the sandwich in three sections to create a stick. Dip in the soup and enjoy!

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