A classic match made in culinary heaven. Creamy, warm tomato soup and gooey, crunchy grilled cheese, complimenting the each other perfectly.
For the grilled cheese, I knew I wanted multiple cheeses, along with layers of flavor without adding toppings. I decided to use a mixture of Gruyere and White Cheddar, in block form. In addition to give the grilled cheese a bit more finesse, I created a Rosemary butter to slather on the inside. Plus, I infused olive oil with garlic and more rosemary to brush on the outside of the bread, giving a golden color and more flavor.
I searched long and hard for the ideal base for beginning my Creamy Tomato Soup recipe. I found a great starting recipe from Saveur, which used very little heavy cream, a important factor in my selection. I made a few modifications, adding a bit of heat and more spices to give the soup a little bit more flavor, since I opted to remove bacon from the recipe.
The soup I started first, since this can be prepared in advance, where as the grilled cheese should be made relatively close to serving time.
It’s an easy soup to make, beginning with sauteing onions and carrots in butter until they just begin to caramelize. After that, add tomato paste, followed by 2 teaspoons of flour to create a rue, which acts as a thickening agent for the soup. Next slowly add 2 cups of chicken stock (you can replace with vegetable stock if making the recipe vegetarian), while whisking the mixture to avoid lumps.
Add two drained 8oz containers of diced tomatoes to the soup, along with two springs of thyme, one bay leaf, 2 teaspoons of crushed red pepper flakes and three cloves of garlic. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 25 minutes.
Turn off the burner, and then remove the bay leaf and thyme. Add 3 tablespoons of heavy cream. Using an immersion blender, puree the soup until smooth. Generously season the soup with kosher salt and pepper. Feel free to add dried thyme and more crushed red pepper flakes to the soup to give a little more flavor.
Put the soup on the back burner until all of the grilled cheese are ready for serving.
To begin making your fancy, little shop in Brooklyn style, high end grilled cheese begin with the oil. I love infusing olive oils. It’s an easy way to add another element of flavor to a dish without adding tons of extra ingredients. Plus, making the oil is super simple.
Place a cup of olive oil in a small pot on the stove. Add 10 cloves of garlic and three springs of rosemary. Bring to medium-low heat, allowing for the oil to bubble. Watch carefully, since you do not want the garlic or rosemary to burn. The oil is ready when the garlic has turned a golden brown color and the rosemary is nice and crisp.
Strain the oil (be careful when it’s hot), and place into a bowl.
I take my cheese very seriously, and take a page from Ina Garten’s playbook in my hatred of pre-packaged or shredded cheeses. I bought blocks of Gruyere and White Cheddar, cutting them into long, thin slices for the sandwiches. I also prepared a Rosemary Butter ahead of time by just bringing butter to room temperature and whipping it with chopped rosemary. I then placed the butter back in the fridge before using.
To start I focused on the bread. I decided to use good Sourdough bread (sliced Wonderbread will not work for this). I coated one inside slice with the Rosemary Butter and brushed the olive oil on the other inside slice. Place on a heated flat pan on the stove, allowing them to turn slightly golden. While they are toasting, lightly brush the top with more infused olive oil. Flip over the slices of bread. Layer the gruyere and white cheddar on top of the side of the bread with Rosemary Butter. Place the already toasted olive oil slice on top of the sandwich and allow to cook until the insides melt. Flip once the bread turns golden brown (so both sides are the same color).
If you are planning to serve immediately, you can cut them into fourths (I made them in a diagonal shape) and place on a tray. If you are making these in advance, place on a lined oven tray.
Preheat the oven to 200º. Place the grilled cheese in the oven for about 10 minutes, until the cheese starts to melt again and begins to bubble. Serve immediately.
Serve adjacent to the tomato soup, or on a stick over the soup (you don’t want it to sit in the soup and get soggy). And enjoy! The grilled cheese are the perfect balance of smokey, gooey, slightly tart, and a little bit of spice from the rosemary and garlic. Effin’ delicious. I’m making more tonight.
Gruyere & White Cheddar Grilled Cheese
- 1/2 lb of Gruyere
- 1/2 lb of White Cheddar
- 1 loaf of Sourdough
- 3 tablespoons butter (you will not use all of this!)
- 5 springs of Rosemary (leaves removed)
- 1/2 cup Olive Oil
- 10 Garlic Cloves
For Rosemary-Garlic Infused Oil
- Place a cup of olive oil in a small pot on the stove.
- Add 10 cloves of garlic and three springs of rosemary
- Bring to medium-low heat, allowing for the oil to bubble (The oil is ready when the garlic has turned a golden brown color and the rosemary is nice and crisp)
- Strain the oil (be careful when it’s hot), and place into a bowl
- Bringing butter to room temperature
- Chop the leaves of 5 springs of Rosemary
- With the back of your fork, mix the rosemary and butter
- Placed the butter back in the fridge before using
Assembling the Grilled Cheese Sandwiches
- Cut the Gruyere and White Cheddar into long, thin slices for the sandwiches
- Coat one inside slice with the Rosemary Butter and brushed the olive oil on the other inside slice
- Place on a heated flat pan on the stove, allowing them to turn slightly golden
- While they are toasting, lightly brush the top with more infused olive oil
- Flip over the slices of bread
- Layer the gruyere and white cheddar on top of the side of the bread with Rosemary Butter
- Place the already toasted olive oil slice on top of the sandwich and allow to cook until the insides melt
- Flip once the bread turns golden brown (so both sides are the same color)
- Cut the sandwiches into fourths (I made them in a diagonal shape) and serve
If preparing ahead of serving:
- Preheat the oven to 200º
- Place the grilled cheese in the oven for about 10 minutes, until the cheese starts to melt again and begins to bubble
- Serve immediately
Creamy Tomato Soup
Adapted from Saveur
- 1 tbsp. unsalted butter
- 1 small onion, thinly sliced (about 3 oz. or 1 cup)
- 1 small carrot, halved and thinly sliced (about 2.5 oz. or ¾ cup)
- 3 tbsp. tomato paste
- 2 tsp. flour
- 2 cups chicken stock
- 2 cups canned diced tomatoes, well drained
- 2 sprigs thyme
- 1 fresh bay leaf
- 2 tsp red pepper flakes
- 3 garlic clove, lightly crushed
- 3 tbsp. heavy cream
**if making vegetarian, replace the chicken stock with vegetable stock**
- Heat butter on medium-high in a medium sized pot
- Sauté the onion and carrot for 8-10 minutes or until very soft and beginning to caramelize, stirring occasionally
- Add the tomato paste and continue cooking about 2 minutes, stirring frequently
- Sprinkle the flour over the vegetable mixture, mix well and continue cooking for another minute
- Gradually pour in the stock, whisking constantly to prevent lumps from forming
- Add the diced tomatoes, thyme, bay leaf, garlic, red pepper flakes and bring to a boil
- Reduce heat and simmer soup for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Remove soup from the heat
- Add the heavy cream and puree with an immersion blender until smooth
- Season to taste and serve