- Yield: 2
- Prep Time: 20 minutes
- Cook Time: 60 minutes
Near perfect Grilled Cheese & Tomato Soup
Growing up in Germany, some food items have been unknown to me for most of my life. While I am not so sad about growing up with Milchschnitte instead of Twinkies (gross!), there are others that I wish I had known earlier about. Among these is my all time favorite sandwich, the BLT (see recipe for Fried Green Tomato BLT) as well as another American Classic, the Grilled Cheese Sandwich, typically paired with a bowl of tomato soup.
Now I've had a few grilled cheese sandwiches of which the vast majority wasn't grilled at all and they ranged from delightful to disgusting. Some were full of bland cheese that only added fat without flavor, others tried to be too sophisticated and got lost in the endless list of pointless ingredients. So I thought about what I really want in a grilled cheese sandwich and came up with four criteria by which I judge them1:
- I want to taste the cheese(s): sadly there's so much cheese in this country, that doesn't seem to have any function other than adding "cheese-pull" to a dish. I don't care about how long the cheese strings from my sandwich can be pulled, I care about how long I can taste that cheese in my mouth
- I want a good cheese to bread ratio: Again, don't go overboard on the cheese. I want enough cheese to taste it and to create a nice mouth feel. But there's no need for cramming 6 ounces of cheese between two paperthing slices of white bread.
- I want good bread: See above, I prefer a bread that has a bit more personality to it than white bread, one that can hold the cooking process without more or less surrendering to the cheese load.
- If you add ingredients to a grilled cheese, make sure it's still mainly a grilled cheese sandwich and not just a random sandwich with too much cheese. It's a fine line, but for me I prefer my flavors clean and if you want to add stuff, make sure the original sandwich retains its character.
With these four guidelines at hand, I've created my near perfect grilled cheese sandwich and I hope you like it as much as I do.
Another great thing about this recipe. With extra bread and a few eggs, you can turn the tomato soup in a great savory breakfast dish. Just reheat the soup in the microwave, transfer it into an oven proof shallow dish, add eggs, sprinkle with parmesan, and bake at 425° F for about 9 - 10 minutes. Enjoy with some toast.
1 Before you all start telling me that I am not allowed to do that, I do it very subjectively and judge which grilled cheese I like the best. I am not forcing my opinion on to you and if you have a grilled cheese sandwich you think is better, tell me about it and I will gladly try it.
- For the Grilled Cheese Sandwich
- Pain de Mie - 4 slices, thick cut, about 1/3 inch
- Butter - 2 tbsp
- Fontina - 1/3 cup, coarsly grated
- Parmesan - 1/3 cup, coarsly grated
- Gruyere - 1/3 cup, coarsly grated
- Black Pepper - freshly cracked, to taste
- For the Tomato Soup
- Yellow Onione - 1 medium sized, small dice
- Olive Oil - 1 tbsp
- Butter - 1 tbsp
- Garlic - 3 large gloves, minced
- Red Pepper Flakes - 1/4 tsp (or more to taste)
- Anchovies - 2 - 3 pieces (optional)
- Granulated Sugar - 1 tsp
- Oregano - 1 tsp, dried
- Salt - 1 tsp
- San Marzano Tomatos - 28 oz. can
- Chicken Stock - 1 1/2 cups
- Black Pepper - to taste
- Olive Oil - 2 tbsp
- Heavy Cream - (optional)
Make the Tomato Soup
- Heat butter and olive oil over medium low head. Add onion and salt and cook until onions are soft and translucent but not browned, yet, about 10 - 15 minutes. You may have to adjust the heat at your stove accordingly.
- Add garlic, anchovies, and red pepper flakes, sugar, and oregano. Cook for another 2 - 3 minutes.
- Add the canned tomatoes, juices and all, and break the tomatoes up with the back of a wooden spoon.
- Cover and simmer for about 15 minutes.
- Add the chicken stock, cover, and simmer for another 30 minutes.
- Adjust salt and season with pepper to taste. Turn off head and let cool for about 10 minutes.
- Use an immersion blender to break the soup down to desired smoothness while drizzling in the last 2 tablespoons of olive oil. I prefer mine not too smooth, so I don't go too long with the blender.
- Serve with a dollop of whipped cream.
Make the Grilled Cheese
- Mix the three cheeses together with the black pepper. The pepper serves two functions here: it makes the mixing of the cheeses easier by preventing them from sticking too much, and it adds a nice layer of flavor to the final result.
- Reserve about four tablespoons of the cheese mixture and divide the rest equally between two slices of bread.
- Press the cover onto the cheese and butter the top of the sandwich. Sprinkle about one tablespoon of the cheese mixture on top of the butter. Put cheese side down into a cold, nonstick frying pan.
- While in the pan, butter the other side of the sandwich and sprinkle another tablespoon of the cheese mixture on top.
- When the soup is ready, heat the pan to medium low and carefully cook your sandwich. The extra cheese will melt into a deliciously cheesy crust and adds extra texture and a different kind of cheese flavor to the final result.
- Flip carefully and repeatedly to not burn the outer cheese crust until the sandwich is heated through and the cheese inside has melted.
- Cut into quarters and serve with the tomato soup.