Who doesn’t love the classic combination of freshly made grilled cheese and steaming hot tomato soup? It’s one of the original comfort foods – quick and easy to make and popular with children and adults alike.
We probably all remember being kids and eating the simple version – a can of tomato soup heated on the stove or microwave, and a grilled cheese made from a couple of slices of bread and processed cheese. It was great at the time, but this recipe absolutely blows it out of the water.
We’ll show you how to make a fresh soup from scratch, and pair it with a next-level grilled cheese using sourdough, butter and sharp cheddar (or whatever cheese you prefer!). This recipe is sufficient for eight people, so adjust the amounts accordingly, depending on how many mouths you have to feed.
Ingredients for the tomato soup
- ½ stick unsalted butter
- One medium red onion, chopped
- Two tablespoons tomato paste
- Two 28-oz. cans crushed tomatoes
- Four cups vegetable broth
- Two sprigs thyme
- One bay leaf
- Two tablespoons sugar
- ½ cup heavy cream
- Salt and pepper
Ingredients for the grilled cheese sandwiches
- One stick of unsalted butter
- 16 medium slices sourdough bread
- 16 ounces sharp cheddar, grated
Making the tomato soup
It’s best to start by preparing the soup, as you can keep it warm on the stovetop while you make the grilled cheese sandwiches.
Heat up half a stick of unsalted butter in an enameled Dutch oven like this one, over a medium heat on the stovetop. The enamel finish is best for making soups, particularly tomato soup, as the tomatoes’ acidic nature can damage the seasoning in an unfinished cast iron Dutch oven.
Once the butter has melted completely, stir in your onions and cook slowly. You’re aiming for a soft texture and a light brown color around the edges of the onions, but don’t let them char or burn as it will affect the flavor of the soup. It should take around nine minutes to get the perfect result.
Next, add the tomato paste to the Dutch oven, and stir it into the onion mix, allowing it to cook for one or two more minutes, or until it darkens to a deep red color. Then pour in the canned tomatoes, along with the vegetable broth, and add the bay leaf, thyme, and sugar.
Cook for a further half-hour or more, tasting during the process and seasoning with salt and pepper as required. Remember to be cautious when adding salt, as you can always add more after serving if necessary, but you can’t remove it once it’s in there!
When the soup is fully cooked, take your Dutch oven off the heat and allow to cool slightly for around five minutes. Then fish out the thyme stems and the bay leaf, and stir in the heavy cream. Use a hand blender to blend to a smooth consistency, being careful not to splash yourself with hot soup. You can use a ladle to transfer the soup to an upright blender in small batches if you don’t have a hand blender available.
Turn down the stove to a low heat to keep your soup warm while you get started on making the grilled cheese sandwiches. Tomato soup just isn’t the same without a classic grilled cheese for dipping!
Making the grilled cheese sandwiches
The key to our ultimate grilled cheese is getting that beautiful golden crust on the outside of the bread without any burnt patches, while the cheese inside melts to just the right soft and gooey consistency.
Some people choose to use just bread and cheese for these sandwiches, using a non-stick pan so that the bread toasts without sticking. If you’re on a diet, this may be the right way to go. In our opinion, though, if you’re making comfort food, you shouldn’t be too concerned about calories. Adding a spread of butter to the outside of your sandwiches will ensure a crispy golden crust and adds a luxurious depth to the flavor.
Using a cast-iron skillet in place of a non-stick pan will help ensure that your grilled cheese sandwiches are evenly toasted, and if it’s adequately seasoned, you won’t have any issues with sticking. Heat up your skillet over a medium heat before getting started. You want it to be up to cooking temperature before you start with the first sandwich.
While it’s heating, spread each of the slices of bread with the room temperature butter on one side only. Then, flip half of the slices over (you may want to lay out some greaseproof paper to avoid making a mess) and divide the shredded cheese evenly across them.
We’ve suggested cheddar in our recipe, but feel free to experiment with American, Monterey Jack, Gruyere, Mexican, or even vegan cheese slices. Top them with the remaining bread, butter side up.
Toast each one in the preheated skillet for around two or three minutes per side, or until the crust is a golden color and you can see the cheese filling beginning to ooze from the sides. Serve them cut up into strips for easier dipping in the tomato soup.