Comfort foods with a twist

January 7, 2009 5:21:14 PM PST
A simple grilled cheese and tomato soup everyone will love.

Recipes featured in this segment:

Tomato Soup

2.5 oz. butter
1 medium onion, diced
1.5 oz. flour
3 c. milk
.5 bay leaf
1.5 tsp. sugar
1.5 teaspoons salt
1 28oz can whole peeled tomatoes, chopped (fresh is preferred during tomato season, but use canned during the colder months)


  1. In a medium size pot, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the onions and stir until they are thoroughly coated. Cook the onions gently, stirring occasionally, until they become translucent - about 10 minutes.

  2. Sprinkle the flour over the onions, continue to stir and cook for 1 to 2 minutes. Once the flour has been absorbed and has cooked for a bit, slowly pour in the milk, bay leaf, sugar, and salt. Continue to stir and cook until slightly thickened.

  3. Add the tomatoes and bring to a slow simmer. Simmer for 5 minutes and remove from the heat.

  4. Remove the bay leaf, then using a food mill or a blender puree the entire mixture.
*Warning: if using a blender fill the basin only a third of the way, make sure the lid is loose allowing an oxygen exchange between your kitchen and the hot soup. Pulse, pulse, pulse slowly, with a thick kitchen towel covering the entire top of the appliance. This will prevent the soup from exploding and causing injury or a mess.

Once blended, pass through a strainer. Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary.

Mini-Ultimate Grilled Cheese

2 Slices of Garlic Boulot Bread (your favorite artisan bread can substitute)
4 to 6 oz San Joaquin Gold, grated (found at
2 oz. Soft butter


  1. Heat a griddle pan or skillet over medium low heat.

  2. Lightly butter one side of each slice of bread and place, butter side down in pan.

  3. Sprinkle the grated cheese evenly across the two slices of bread.

  4. Once the cheese has melted and the bread is toasted to your preference, combine the two halves.

  5. Serve with tomato soup and enjoy.
About Jeffery Surprise, Chef
Aurea at The Stanford Court, a Renaissance Hotel

A passion for cooking that began at an early age brought Jeffery Surprise to The Stanford Court and to his most recent position as chef of the hotel's Aurea restaurant.

Growing up in Bethany, Connecticut, Surprise became interested in cooking at a young age, helping his mother and grandmother in the kitchen and watching television cooking personalities Julie Childs and Jacques Pepin. After graduating from high school, Surprise enrolled in New Hampshire College's (now the University of Southern New Hampshire) culinary program, earning his associates degree in culinary arts and a bachelor's degree in restaurant management.

While interning at The Sagamore in Bolton Landing, N.Y., Surprise realized that he enjoyed the fast-paced culinary environment of a hotel and headed to Florida to be a part of the culinary team at the Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island. Surprise next accepted an offer to transfer to the Ritz-Carlton, San Francisco, where he spent five years working under Chef Jean-Pierre Dubray.

Chef Surprise's next venture led him back to the East Coast and to Boston's acclaimed Radius restaurant working alongside Chef Michael Schlow. After one long, cold winter in Boston, Surprise set his sights for the Bay Area, where he landed a position as part of Michael Tusk's culinary team at Quince. Under Tusk, Surprise learned about the Slow Food movement, the benefits of local, sustainable farming, and a rigid adherence to seasonality. In addition, he had the opportunity to work with local organic farmers, building valuable relationships and learning not only where the restaurant's produce came from, but also the provenance of many of its meats.

Missing the diversity and fast pace of a hotel, Surprise began seeking a position that would provide the best of both worlds. After meeting The Stanford Court's executive chef, Werner Albrecht, he knew he had found a hotel that focused on service and innovation, and a culinary program that would allow him to practice the culinary arts at the highest level.

Aurea at The Stanford Court
905 California Street
San Francisco, CA 94108
Set atop San Francisco's historic Nob Hill in the lobby level of The Stanford Court, A Renaissance Hotel.
Telephone: 415-989-1910

To learn more about the restaurant, Aurea, visit