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soup kitchens and bread lines

Before I get into the recipes for soup shooters and grilled cheese bites, I want to say Happy Anniversary to David, my husband of 26 years. xoxo  And I want to tell you the story of the cute shooter glasses I found.

I was in Pier 1 Imports about a month ago and saw a great display they have up with a wide and wonderful assortment of mini glasses for a “Tasting Party”. They have mini cordials, mini parfait, mini trifle, mini wine, and mini martini glasses. I was immediately in love with the whole concept and had to hold myself back from buying at least one set of each. Part of what prevented that happening, was the price. Most of the sets were $29.95 each. That would not have been a “mini” amount to spend! So I resisted and just purchased one 24-piece set of mini parfaits to use as soup shooters.

Once I got home, I looked more closely and saw that the 24-piece set was actually only 12 glasses and included 12 mini spoons. Darn it! That meant I’d just spent $2.50 per glass. But this mistake leads me on the hunt for comparable mini shooters at a reasonable price.

Off to Target, I went, and sure enough, there they were, the exact same shooter glasses made by Libby with the same pictures on the boxes. So Libby had made these for Pier 1 and had privately labeled the boxes for them.  The Target variety was a 16-piece set with 8 glasses and 8 spoons for $15.29. That came out to $1.99 per glass. Still a bit high, especially since I didn’t want or need the spoons at all. But I purchased a few sets anyhow, thinking I couldn’t do better than that.  But low and behold, while doing the last-minute perishable food shopping at Fry’s (the “big fancy Fry’s on Tatum and Shea) just the day before the party, there they were…. 6-piece sets of shooter glasses, different packaging but also made by Libby, and without any spoons for only $7.99 a box… or $1.33 each!  Hallelujah… I bought all they had and was proud of my determination and tenacity at finding the best retail buy!

These soup and sandwiches, the last of the recipes from my dad’s 80th birthday party menu, pay homage to the 1930’s soup kitchens and bread lines. This is generally how it went;  First, the “customers” might be “asked” to listen to a sermon for 10-20 minutes before being served any food. Once the speech was over, they got back in a shorter line and, cafeteria-style, were served a cup or bowl of soup or stew. They then sat down at community tables where hunks of stale bread awaited them on large plates. Sometimes coffee was served. Most described the soup as tasteless, thin, watery, lukewarm, and rarely with any vegetables. Some recall cheese sandwiches or oatmeal being served as well.

Tomato “Soup Kitchen” Shooters

4 tablespoons of olive oil, divided
1 medium onion, peeled and diced
1 stalk celery, diced
1 small carrot,  peeled and diced
3 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
Two 14.5-ounce or one 28-ounce can diced tomatoes packed in juice
1 tablespoon of brown sugar
3 slices of large sandwich bread (crusts removed and cut into 1-inch pieces)
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons brandy

Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large pot over medium-high heat.

Add onion, celery, carrot, and sauté for 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and stir in the garlic. Continue to sauté, stirring frequently, until the onion is translucent, about 3 more minutes.

Stir in the tomatoes and their juices, and bring to a simmer.  Stir in brown sugar and bread; bring soup to a boil, stirring occasionally, until the bread is completely saturated and starts to break down about 5 minutes.

Stir in the basil and cream then transfer half of the soup to a blender.  Add one tablespoon of oil and process until soup is smooth and creamy. Transfer to a large bowl and repeat with remaining soup and oil.

Return both batches of the soup to the pot and stir in the brandy. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Serve at room temperature, reheat and serve hot, or chill and serve cold.

Makes about 4 1/2 cups = about 25 shooters

Unfortunately, in the rush of getting the food onto the buffet, I wasn’t able to get any pictures of these cute little bites being made, just a shot of them on the table with the shooters.  I didn’t create these two tasty combinations on my own. Instead, while watching Oprah back in October, I wrote down these two combos one afternoon when she had Martha Stewart on. You can go to this link to check out all of the ideas they featured that day.

“Bread Line” Grilled Cheese Bites

Thin rye bread slices, crusts trimmed off
Thin sourdough bread slices, crusts trimmed off
Salted butter, at room temperature
Gruyere cheese, thinly sliced
Granny Smith apple, cored and thinly sliced
Fresh sage leaves
Whole-grain Dijon mustard
Sharp cheddar cheese, thinly sliced
Thinly sliced ripe tomatoes
Thinly sliced ripe avocado
Freshly ground black pepper
Lay the rye and sourdough bread slices out on a work surface.  Spread half of each type of bread with softened butter.

On the slices of rye bread that are left unbuttered, layer with Gruyere cheese, apple slices, sage leaves, and the second slice of Gruyere. Top each with the buttered rye slices, and butter side up.

On the slices of sourdough bread that are left unbuttered, spread first with a thin layer of mustard and then layer with cheddar cheese, tomato, and avocado and sprinkle each with pepper, finish with a second slice of cheddar. Top each with the buttered sourdough slices, butter side up.

Place a couple of large skillets over medium heat.  Place the sandwiches in the skillets, buttered side down. Spread all the sandwich tops, while in the skillet, with the softened butter. Cook until bread is golden and cheese is melted, about 5 minutes per side.

Serve hot or at room temperature.

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1 Marissa { 05.04.11 at 11:47 AM }

Do we have any more of these grilled cheese left?? Yum yum

2 Peggy M { 05.06.11 at 8:32 AM }

I love grilled cheese sandwiches! Especially fancy ones.

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