As we all continue to “shelter-in-place”, if you’re anything like me, some comfort food is well needed and deserved right now. When I think about the dishes in my childhood that brought me the most joy, grilled cheese and tomato soup is right up there at the top of the list. Of course, being the daughter of a working mother, it was grilled American cheese on Wonder Bread and a bowl of condensed cream of tomato. It was, nevertheless, a magical combination.
When my restaurant was still open, I knew Grilled Cheese & Tomato Soup had to make an appearance on the menu. I also knew that Campbell’s and Velveeta wouldn’t cut it for paying guests. Therefore, I rolled up my sleeves, headed for the cooler and took stock of what was available to make a truly out-of-this-world dish.
Keep reading for my off-the-hook grilled cheese and tomato soup recipes!
The blend of cheeses is what makes this sandwich stand out from the rest. And the bread. Please, for the love of all that is sacred, this is not the time to use wimpy, pre-sliced, grocery store, preservative-laden, squishy white bread. Now is when you get an artisanal loaf of real bread from an actual bakery and slice it by hand. And make it thick or it won’t hold up to the copious amounts of cheese you’re about to heap on top of it.
So. Much. Cheese. When I was working on the recipe for this post, the hubs came into the kitchen. I forced him to watch as I shattered the crispy golden crust of bread with my knife. As I pulled the halves apart and the cheese stretched into a web of white before finally breaking in two, I heard him mutter under his breath, “Yuck. That’s too much cheese.”
I felt like Wile E. Coyote when Bugs Bunny hits him on the head with an anvil. Too much cheese? How dare he?! Needless to say, if you aren’t a fan of cheesy Grilled Cheese, don’t try this recipe. The tangy tomato soup is the perfect balance for all that richness.
Make sure you dip! 😜
I know, it’s more work than the dish you probably had as a kid, but what the heck else do we have to do right now? So, get in the kitchen and start cooking. Let me know how it goes!
Off-the-hook Grilled Cheese & Tomato SoupCourse: Soups, Salads and SandwichesCuisine: AmericanDifficulty: Easy
This grilled cheese and tomato soup will ruin you for anything else. The blend of cheesy richness and bright, tangy tomato are perfection!
- For Tomato Soup
2 oz peeled, whole garlic cloves
2 tbsp whole coriander seed
1/4 cup olive oil
3 (14.5 oz) cans crushed tomatoes (I like Red Gold Crushed)
3 (14.5 oz) cans diced tomatoes (I like Red Gold Petite Diced)
3 cups water
3 tbsp (35 grams) salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 cup heavy cream
Fresh basil for garnish
- For Grilled Cheese (per sandwich)
2 thick slices hearty white or sourdough bread
3 tbsp unsalted butter
1-1/2 oz unsmoked provolone, sliced or shredded
1 oz feta, crumbled
1 oz white cheddar, sliced or shredded
2 oz fresh mozzarella, sliced
1/4 tsp (1-1/5 grams) salt
1/8 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- To make tomato soup:
- Heat large, heavy bottom pot over medium high. Add olive oil, garlic cloves and coriander. Reduce heat to medium and let simmer, shaking pan occasionally, until garlic just starts to brown and you can smell it and the coriander.
- Add all the crushed and diced tomatoes along with the 3 cups of water – using the water to rinse all the last bits of tomato out of each can before adding it to the pot. Season with 3 tbsp salt and 1/2 tsp pepper.
- Bring to boil and then reduce heat to lowest setting (it should barely let any bubbles escape to the top). Simmer for about an hour giving the garlic and coriander time to soften and release their flavors. Add cream and bring to simmer.
- Remove from heat and blend – I like to use an immersion blender for this but you could also use a traditional blender in batches.
- Pass soup through mesh strainer. It needs to be the right size. Course mesh (like the one on the left in pic) is best, if it’s too fine your soup will be too watery and you’ll lose all the flavor. But you can’t use a colander or you won’t get out the leftover chunks of coriander seed.
- Adjust seasoning if necessary.
- Use immediately or refrigerate until needed.
- To serve, garnish with fresh basil.
- To make grilled cheese:
- Butter both sides of each slice of bread. (Yes both sides. This isn’t the time to be stingy with the butter.)
- Layer on all four cheeses leaving open-faced, then season with 1/4 tsp salt and 1/8 tsp pepper.
- Place both slices of bread with cheeses on large saute pan. Cook over medium-low heat until bread is golden brown and cheeses are melted and heated through. If you need to (PRO TIP), place a lid over the bread (large enough to cover both slices) and drizzle a little hot water around the edges. This will create steam under the lid and help with the melting process. You could also place the still-open-faced sandwich on a sheet pan and bake in a 350°F oven for 5-10 minutes until heated through.
- Alternatively, place on a preheated sandwich/panini press like this one and cook on high until golden brown and cheese is melted.
- Transfer sandwich to cutting board and slice through on a diagonal with a serrated knife. Serve with tomato soup.
- Upon reheating, if the soup is too thick for your taste, just add a little water, cream or milk to thin it out.
- The soup recipes makes about 3 quarts and freezes really well. If you don’t use it all, put it in a labeled zip top plastic bag. Find a flat place in your freezer to store until it’s frozen.
- About the basil – no you don’t really need it. But it adds a pop of color and flavor that makes the soup more “restaurant quality” so if you can, please make sure you add it.
- PRO TIP for straining your soup. Pour it into the strainer and then using a spatula or wooden spoon, tap on the rim of it to make the soup go through faster.
- Until I made more sandwiches for the hubs today, I forgot how much I prefer making these on the panini press. They’ll look different but it’s so much easier to use when making more than one!
- I use Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt, in the big red box. If you can, purchase it at Amazon or Walmart. If not, I recommend weighing your salt to get accurate results. The volume of salt can vary by as much as 75% by weight so it can make a HUGE difference to your recipe.
- I always use unsalted butter in my recipes so I can control how much goes in. If you choose to use salted butter, cut back considerably on the salt amount listed.