Thursday, February 13, 2014

Grilled Cheese and Tomato Soup

I thought for a long while about clever recipes to make for Valentine's Day, or typical foods we associate with love.  After sifting through recommendations for pasta, seafood, and chocolate dishes, I decided to go with a simple recipe that is a classic food pairing (and much more exciting than peas and carrots or spaghetti and meatballs).  Of course, I've added some flair to both, and kept the tomato soup as fresh and healthy as possible to counter, ya know, the cheese.

Since I wanted to be a bit playful with the grilled cheese, I attempted two variations.  The first was this smoked gouda dream, and the second was a goat cheese-based sandwich.  To my surprise, the gouda version stole the show and the goat cheese was too rich for more than a few bites.  While I was disappointed that my gouda didn't get melty (which you might argue is a key principle of grilled cheese), the end result was one of the best grilled cheeses I've ever had.  The smokiness of the gouda was important, so make sure you pick up the right cheese.

As for the tomato soup, I kept things really simple and added only a dash of cream.  A colleague of mine recently let me in on a secret for tomato soup, which is to let it simmer with a few slices of white bread, and then blend the bread into the soup as a thickener.  I wish I would have tried that!

Tomato Soup Ingredients (makes about 6 servings):
  • 1 medium red onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 2 cups chopped carrots 
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste 
  • 1 tbsp. honey
  • 2 large cans (56 oz.) whole stewed tomatoes
  • 2 cups low-sodium vegetable or chicken stock
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
  • 1/2 tbsp. cream (or more, if you want it creamier)
  • salt and pepper to taste

Grilled Cheese Ingredients:
  • sourdough bread
  • slices of smoked gouda cheese
  • slices of fresh tomato
  • thin slices of red onion
  • smashed avocado
  • a little olive oil 

For the soup: chop up your onion, garlic, and carrots.  Heat a large pot with the olive oil, and cook the onion, garlic, and carrots with a little salt for about 10 minutes, until softened and browned.
Add the tomato paste and honey, stir, and cook for another minute.  Add the tomatoes, crushing them with your hands, along with the juice in the can.  Also add the stock.  Bring to a simmer and allow to cook for at least 20 minutes.  Stir in the chopped basil and cream.  Using a blender, combine the ingredients until smooth.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Return to a simmer if you want to thicken the soup.
For the grilled cheese: Heat a grill, pan, or panini to medium-high heat.  Construct your sandwich with all ingredients, rubbing a little olive oil on the outside of the slices of bread.  Grill until desired doneness is reached.  My gouda didn't really get melty, but still tasted great!


  1. Always love a hearty soup and grilled cheese! The bread idea to thicken the soup is great - I've also thickened soups with a little greek yogurt (add when the soup is lukewarm to avoid curdling) or my favorite way is to add 1/2-1 medium sized potato to a large dutch oven of soup to give it more body. You can let it simmer with the soup if you plan on pureeing it, or cook it in the microwave, mash, and add to the soup. You can't taste the potato at all and you thicken the soup without too much fat. Of course, cream is the fastest and yummiest way:)

  2. Oooo...potato is such a clever idea as a thickener! I should really start getting people's advice BEFORE I cook something. Now I've just got a crap load of soup to make. Perhaps the never-ending Chicago winter will make itself useful after all!

  3. thank you. this gives me hope i can find things tht look good and are healthy to eat.