I wanted to kick off National Grilled Cheese Month with a classic: grilled cheese and tomato soup. But here’s the twist: the soup is in the sandwich. And it’s delicious. Creamy and tomatoey and cheesy and satisfying. It almost makes a person want to eat grilled cheese all month…
It’s spring! Or at least today was. The line at the Shake Shack wrapped around the park, and folks were eating their lunches outside in the new (somewhat bizarre) promenades set up in the middle of the street outside the Flatiron building. It was plenty sunny. So it’s clearly past the season for hot soup. But how to put the soup inside the sandwich?
To mimic the creamy, sweet, tomatoey flavor of old-fashioned Campbell’s tomato soup, I procured a tube of sundried tomato paste. This stuff is nice to have around. It keeps well, and you can dispense just a teaspoon or two at a time if you wish. It’s great for boosting the flavor of pasta sauce, or coaxing some more caramelization out of onions on the stove.
Sundried tomato paste stirred into a bit of lowfat cream cheese, with an equal amount of regular tomato paste (also from a tube, also handy to keep around) got us pretty close to the right taste. The secret to the perfect flavor: just a touch of sugar. Trust me on this one, you’ll want to eat the creamy tomato soup spread with a spoon. In the sandwich, it really hits the spot.
Since we’re going to be making a few of these this month, we might as well discuss technique. Grilled cheese needs to be cooked on low so that the cheese melts and turns gooey before the bread burns. Just don’t get impatient. These things take time. Grated cheese melts faster than slices, and a mix of cheddar and asiago boosts the flavor. I made this in a regular cast iron pan, but you could use nonstick, or a panini press if you have one.
Tomato Soup Grilled Cheese
makes two sandwiches
For the creamy tomato soup spread
1 1/2 tablespoons lowfat cream cheese
1 tsp sundried tomato paste
1 tsp regular tomato paste
scant 1/2 teaspoon sugar
freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese
1/2 cup grated asiago cheese
4 slices light wheat bread
1 1/2 T butter, melted
Mix cream cheese, sundried tomato paste, tomato paste, sugar, and a quick grind of pepper in a small bowl until smooth. Set aside. Grate cheese and toss the two types together to mix. Warm a large, seasoned cast iron pan over medium. Brush one side of each slice of bread with melted butter. Flip bread and spread other side of each piece of bread with tomato soup spread. You should use all of it.
Place 2 slices of bread, butter side down, in preheated pan. Turn pan down to low. Divide grated cheese among the two slices and distribute in an even layer all the way to the edges. Top each with the other slices of bread, tomato side down, butter side up. Press down with a spatula and cover with a lid. Cook on low 5 minutes, then turn carefully, holding sandwich together. Cook another five minutes on low, uncovered. You can continue to flip and cook if bread is not adequately brown, checking every minute or so.
Cut each sandwich in half, and serve with a green salad or quick pickles.vegetarian
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