Comté and Pepper Grilled Cheese with Smokey Tomato Soup

Smokey Tomato Soup: 
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup yellow onion, diced (about 1/2 onion)
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 sprigs of fresh thyme leaves
1 1/2 teaspoons smoked paprika
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 (14-ounce) can of diced San Marzano tomatoes (in juice)
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/4 teaspoon white granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken stock (or veggie stock)
2 tablespoons  heavy cream

1. Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium-low heat. Add the onions and saute for about 5-7 minutes, or until translucent and tender. Add the garlic to the top of the diced onions and cook for about 1 minute, or until fragrant. Add the thyme, paprika, salt and pepper. Stir to coat the onions and cook for an additional minute. 

2. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, sugar, chicken stock and stir. Cook the soup for 15 to 20 minutes. 

3. In batches, carefully transfer the tomato mixture to the blender. Blend on low, being sure to let steam escape. Blending hot soup is a little dangerous so be careful. When you’re done blending it all, transfer it back to the soup pot. (Note: This soup has a little texture that I personally dig. If you don’t want that, simply place a sieve onto the pot and pour the mixture through–it’ll be much smoother with no tomato pulp.) 

4. Reheat the soup just until hot. Mix in the heavy cream and salt to taste. 

Comté and Pepper Grilled Cheese:
3 fresno peppers or jalapeños peppers (or a mix!) 
1 tablespoon mustard
3 teaspoons mayonnaise
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice (from about 1/2 lemon)
Pinch of freshly ground pepper
4 slices of bread
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
4 ounces Comté, shredded

1.Turn your gas range to medium heat and toast the chiles by turning them an inch or two above an open flame for about a minute, until they're completely charred on both sides. (If you lack a gas range, you can transfer the chile to a day pan and place it over medium heat. Press the chile against the pan for a few seconds, rotate it, and cook until the pepper is charred.) 

2. Moving quickly, transfer the chiles to a glass or stainless steel bowl. Pierce them a few times with a knife, and cover the bowl with plastic wrap. This will create steam, making the peppers' skins to fall off easily. Allow them to stand for 1-2 minutes. Remove the plastic wrap, and using a knife, scrape off the charred bits and discard. Dice the peppers, discarding the membrane and seeds. 

3. In a small bowl, mix together the mustard, mayonnaise, lemon juice and pepper. Fold in the diced peppers and set aside.  

4. Take 2 slices of bread and liberally butter the outsides of your bread with the softened butter. Turn the bread over and smother one slice with the pepper mayonnaise/mustard mixture. Top with a heavy hand of shredded cheese. Sandwich the two slices together. Repeat this process with the last two slices of bread. 

5. Melt 1 teaspoon of butter in your cast iron skillet over medium heat. When hot and melted, add the sandwich. Cook on the first side for 2-3 minutes, until lightly golden brown. Flip, adjusting heat if needed, and cover with a lid. This will ensure proper melting. Cook for 1-2 additional minutes, and until lightly golden brown. Remove and serve immediately with warm soup. 

Yields 2 sandwiches and soup for 2-3 servings