Yes, okay. Longest post title ever.
But I’m starting to realize I can’t have tomato soup without grilled cheese.
Especially now that I know all the secrets to making an amazing grilled cheese sandwich. And the world’s best (and probably one of the easiest) tomato soups made from scratch.
When I was little, I loved grilled cheese. Back before I knew any better, those plastic wrapped bright yellow slices of Kraft, sandwiched between two pieces of white bread, and grilled up all golden brown and melty were heaven. Especially when the wind chill was around 20 below, and I just had just come in from a very long – like 30 minutes in kid time – day of sledding.
And them BAM! Ooey, gooey cheesey goodness. But there was always tomato soup. And I didn’t even like tomatoes. The closest I got to eating a tomato as a child, was ketchup.
But we all know ketchup is just food from heaven anyway, so that doesn’t even count.
I always asked my mom why I had to have tomato soup. She said tomato soup just went with grilled cheese. So in my kid brain, I assumed it was like peanut butter and jelly. Obviously you’re just very strange if you have one without the other.
Now that I am older, and somewhat wiser, I suspect it was the only way she could find to get me to eat soup made of a vegetable. Very clever mom.
But times have changed, and now I actually, for realz, enjoy tomato soup! (Merry Christmas, Mom!)
Especially THIS tomato soup. With THIS grilled cheese. OMG, seriously you guys, this stuff is the best.
But get ready to get really weirded out. It has fresh mint in it. Eww, gross, right? Yeah, that’s totally what I thought too. Until they made it in front of my face at a cooking class I took, and they gave us all some, and I ate a bite to be polite (Merry Christmas again, Mom!) and WHOA BUDDY!
None of us could shut up about that soup for the rest of the class. So yes, it sounds weird and gross, but follow the recipe, and I promise you will have delicious soup.
And if you don’t believe me, then just stick with these tips on making the perfect grilled cheese. Unlike my dear mother, I have no qualms if you eat your griddled goodness sans soup.
First, make sure you cheese is shredded. You can use any type of cheese that makes your heart melt (ha!), just make sure it’s shredded before you grill it. This makes it melt faster, and more evenly, so you get those gooey cheese ribbons when you cut it in half. Heaven!
Second, use the right kind of bread. Don’t do that sandwich bread you got that the store that will turn to mush. Use a substantial bread – like an Italian loaf, or a sourdough or something. I used a country white loaf from Breadsmith, and it was perfect. And I’d avoid whole wheat – even though I love it – just for textural purposes.
Third, and this is the real delicious trick, cut a garlic clove in half, and rub it all over the grilled bread when you’re done cooking. I can’t even explain why, but they told us about this trick, and it gives the whole thing the best garlicky fragrance without making the whole sandwich taste like garlic. It’s like you smell it more than taste it, but that adds to the amazingness because cheese + garlic (depending on my fickle mood) > PB+J. Revelation!
So, since it’s -7 right now, and no one in MN is really thinking of anything except amazing soup and grilled cheese, why not take a walk on the wild side, and grab your fresh mint, and your cheese grater?
OMG YUM Tomato Soup:
- 2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 3 medium-sized garlic cloves, minced
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 – 28 oz. – cans whole tomatoes, packed in juice
- 1 Tbsp. brown sugar
- 3 large slices good-quality sandwich bread, crusts removed, torn into 1-inch pieces (whatever bread you use for the grilled cheese is perfect)
- 2 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
- 2 Tbsp. brandy (I substituted whiskey here, and it was great)
- Salt and ground black pepper
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh mint
1. Heat 2 tablespoons of your oil in a Dutch oven, or very large stock pot, over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the onion, garlic, and bay leaf. Cook, stirring frequently, until the onion is translucent, 3-5 minutes.
2. Stir in the tomatoes and their juice. Using a potato masher, mash until no pieces bigger than 2 inches remain.
3. Stir in the sugar and the bread, and bring the soup to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally, until the bread is completely saturated and starts to break down, about 5 minutes. Take out your bay leaf, and throw it away.
4. Using an immersion blender (or doing batches in your regular blender) process until the soup is smooth and creamy – about 2-3 minutes. Transfer the soup back into your pot (if you took it out to blend it) and stir in the broth, brandy, and mint.
5. Return the soup to a boil, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve in bowls with whatever toppings you like. But you probably won’t need any. 🙂
Perfect Grilled Cheese:
- 1 loaf of good quality sandwich bread, preferably Italian or sourdough
- Shredded cheese of your choice – I used smoked gouda, and a bit of gruyere in mine
- 1 garlic clove, cut in half
- oil or butter
1. Heat your griddle to around 350. Butter, or brush with oil, 1 side of each bread slice. These will be the sides that touch the griddle.
2. With your griddle-sides facing down, put about 1/2 inch of shredded cheese on one side of the sandwich. If you want to add bacon, or pesto, or tomatoes, this would be the point to do that too. Top with the other bread slice, making sure the oiled/buttered side faces up.
3. Pop you sandwich on the griddle, and grill it until the bread turns golden brown. Then flip, and cook the other side. While the other side is cooking, you can go ahead, and rub the cut half of your garlic clove all over the side you already grilled. Make sure to get the edges too!
4. Once your sandwich is grilled, and the cheese is melted*, remove the sandwich, and rub the other side with garlic as well. Serve immediately and enjoy!
*Cook’s tip: If you bread is cooking too fast, and the cheese isn’t melting, turn the heat down a bit.