Grilled Cheese with Creamy Tomato Soup
June 17, 2020
Few things in this world are better than a perfectly cooked, melt in your mouth grilled cheese served with a tomato soup.
Grilled cheese is a classic, quintessential lunch food that most people already know how to make. However, there a few simple things you can do to really amp up the quality of your sandwich. Let's talk about the essential components that go into making a grilled cheese.
Grilled Cheese Ingredients
The most often overlooked part of making a grilled cheese is definitely the bread. Of course you can use pre-sliced bread, but it will not yield the same results as using a fresh baked loaf. Toasted fresh baked bread is unbelievably crispy and flavorful. You can buy fresh baked bread at your local groccery store to save time, or make your own loaf (if you're lucky enough to find bread flour and yeast in the midst of COVID-19). If you really want to take it a step further, you could use sourdough bread here for added tanginess and complexity.
If there is one thing you take from this post, let it be do not use pre-grated cheese! Really, you should always grate your own cheese, but that stands especially true here. Pre-grated cheese is coated in starches that sacrifice its melting qualities. If you don't grate your own cheese here, you're going to end up with a sad, solid block of cheese inside your grilled cheese, and nobody wants that.
Now that that's out of the way, let's talk types of cheese. I used a mix of sharp cheddar and mozzerella, but you can really substitute any types of cheese that you want. Just try to use one soft variety that will add a nice cheese stretch (mozzerella), and one variety with a more notable flavor (cheddar). Some other great cheeses here would be muenster, gruyere, or swiss, but I wanted to go with more of a classic combination.
Mayonnaise vs. Butter
Whether to spread mayonnaise or butter on the bread of your grilled cheese is an age old debate. Butter will yield a deeper, rich flavor, but will burn much easier than mayonnaise. Mayo will have a slightly tangier flavor, and will keep your bread from burning as easily, and will also keep the bread below the crispy exterior nice and fluffy.
For this recipe, I combined the best of both worlds. Mayonnaise is spread over the top of the bread for even browning and the perfect crunch-to-fluff ratio, and is then toasted in a tablespoon of butter for added richness.
The most difficult part of the grilled cheese journey is finding the right temperature and time to cook for to yield a crispy, brown exterior and perfectly melted interior. I find that on my stove, medium heat for three minutes on the first side, and two minutes on the second side produces the ideal results. A great solution to make sure the cheese is always melted all the way is to cover the pan during cooking. This will trap the heat and steam in, and cook the inside as the outside browns.
The Tomato Soup
In my opionion, if you're eating grilled cheese without tomato soup to dip it in, you are doing yourself a great injustice, and missing out on half of the experience. All jokes aside, a good tomato soup really does unbelievable things for a grilled cheese. The stuff out of the can is okay, but in reality just doesn't cut it.
This tomato soup calls for sweated onions and garlic deepened with tomato paste, and deglazed with totally optional (but recommended) dry sherry. If you don't have or don't feel like using dry sherry, you can substitute a little bit of chicken stock, or just completely ommit this step. Once the tomato sauce is added, simmer for 10 - 30 minutes with fresh basil and oregano and a little bit of brown sugar to cut the acidity of the canned tomato sauce. Once it's finished simmering, a pat of butter is melted into the soup for added creaminess, and salt and pepper is added to taste.
Okay, that your mouth is probably watering, let's get into the actual recipe.
Grilled Cheese & Tomato Soup
Melt in your mouth grilled cheese served with a creamy tomato soup
Course: Lunch Cuisine: American
Calories: 532 per serving
2 oz cheddar, freshly grated (you can eyeball the cheese)
1 oz mozzerella, freshly grated
Enough mayonnaise to cover two slices of bread
2 slices bread
1 tbsp unsalted butter
Tomato Soup (4 servings)
1/4 cup yellow onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tbsp tomato paste
1/8 cup dry sherry (optional)
1 16 oz can tomato sauce
1 sprig basil, julienned
1 sprig oregano (substitute 1/2 tsp dried)
1/2 tsp brown sugar
1 tbsp unsalted butter
1 tbsp olive oil
1) Sweat onions in a small pot over medium-low heat in olive oil for about 2 - 3 minutes, or until they just begin to become translucent. Add garlic and cook for 30 seconds longer. Do not brown the garlic.
2) Add tomato paste and cook 30 seconds longer. Deglaze with dry sherry, if using.
3) Add tomato sauce, basil, oregano, and brown sugar. Simmer on low heat for 10 - 30 minutes. While soup is simmering, start grilled cheese.
4) Put grated cheese between two slices of bread, and cover the exterior with mayonnaise.
5) Melt butter in a pan (preferably cast iron, but any pan will work) over medium heat.
6) Cook for about 3 minutes on the first side, and 2 minutes on the second side, or until both sides are golden brown. Cover pan with lid between flipping to melt the cheese thoroughly.
7) Remove oregano from tomato soup. Add butter and salt and pepper to taste.
8) Serve grilled cheese alongside tomato soup, garnished with basil leaves if desired.