Foodie Friday: Homemade Tomato Soup and Gourmet Grilled Cheese


My kinda comfort food

Now that Fall has officially arrived (except here in SoCal where it’s 90 degrees!), it’s time to start cooking for cooler weather.  And nothing is more comforting than a steaming bowl of homemade soup and a hot sandwich. I think I represent many Americans when I say that my ultimate comfort food is the classic tomato soup and a grilled cheese sandwich. You really can’t go wrong with this beloved combination, but I want to explain how I like to make it even better.

There is no need to dump a can of condensed tomato soup in a pot when making homemade tomato soup yourself is so easy. And as for the basic grilled cheese sandwich? Well, let’s just say that you can forget about the white bread and processed cheese singles. I prepare my grilled cheese with good egg bread or crusty sourdough. And, as for cheese, I like it with good Gruyere and Swiss. I’m telling you, this ain’t yo mama’s grilled cheese sandwich.

Tomato Soup:

  • 4 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 carrot, chopped
  • 1 stalk of celery, chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons of all-purpose flour
  • 4  1/2 cups of low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 (28 oz.) can whole, peeled tomatoes
  • 3 fresh thyme sprigs
  • 1 fresh rosemary sprig
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Fresh ground pepper to taste

Heat a stock pot on medium-high heat and then add the olive oil. Once heated, add the onion, carrot, celery, and garlic. Cook covered and stir occasionally for about 8 minutes.

Stir in the flour for about 2 minutes, then add the broth and salt. After adding the broth, pour in the tomatoes and make sure to crush the tomatoes through your fingers into the pot. Bring it all to a boil while whisking.  Tie the herbs together with a piece of  kitchen twine and add it to the pot. Tie a knot on the pot handle in order to remove the twine more easily. Lower the heat and simmer for about 20 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool.IMG_9811

Remove the herb bundle. Using a hand-held immersion blender or regular blender, puree the soup until smooth. IMG_9818

Add pepper to taste and serve immediately. The soup stores well in the fridge for about a week or in the freezer for about a month.

Grilled Gruyere and Swiss Cheese Sandwich:

4 servings

  • 8 slices of bread (egg bread or sourdough bread).
  • 12 ounces of shredded or sliced Gruyere and Swiss cheese (Note: I prefer to shred the cheese since I think it melts more easily. Also, as a big time-saver, you can buy packaged Gruyere and Swiss shredded cheese at Trader Joe’s – it’s actually quite good!)
  • 2-4 tablespoons of unsalted butter

Choice of added flavors:

  • 8 slices of smoked bacon or ham
  • 2 slices of vine-ripened tomato

Heat a large skillet at medium-high and add 1-2 tablespoons of butter (I usually only use 1 tablespoon but many people swear by two tablespoons). Add 2-4 slices of bread, depending on how many can easily fit. Add the cheese (and ham, bacon, or tomato, if needed…or all three if you want to go crazy) and let it toast for a minute. Add another 1-2 tablespoons of butter to skillet and layer the cheese with the other slice of bread. Flip the sandwiches over with a large spatula. I like using a pancake spatula for easy turning.  Let it grill until the cheese is melted and the bread is toasted.

Another note about the butter. Some people butter their bread before putting it into the skillet. Now I love butter as much as the next person, but I find that to be a buttery overkill. A little butter in the pan can go a long way to make delicious grilled cheese. Plus, your cholesterol level will thank you.