Grilled Cheese and Tomato Soup is an irresistible combo and a meal that is easy to pull off with these two great recipes. The tomato soup is intensely tomatoey with a spicy kick. The grilled cheese is open faced, cooked in the oven, and includes some special ingredients that make it out of this world delicious!
This wonderful rich spicy tomato soup has only two main ingredients - onions and canned tomatoes, plus olive oil and spices. A garnish of fresh basil is optional and highly recommended. The recipe comes from one of my favorite chefs, Barbara Lynch, from a recipe in her cookbook Stir.
My inspiration for the grilled cheese comes from a vintage recipe my mother used to make when she entertained. She called it cheese grille. It's a sinfully delicious appetizer consisting of equal parts grated parmesan, grated onion, and mayonnaise, mixed together and mounded onto small triangles of white bread, and broiled. I went way lighter on the mayo for this recipe and it's still sublime!
How did Grilled Cheese and Tomato Soup become a thing?
It's not clear exactly why and when grilled cheese and tomato soup became a thing. Some food historians say it was after World War ll, when institutional foodservice decided it was important to serve more rounded meals in federal institutions and school cafeterias. Grilled cheese, which was popular and affordable, needed a healthy accompaniment. Tomato soup, with its vitamin C component, fit the bill.
How to make the best grilled cheese and tomato soup
These two recipes are easily manageable for a weeknight dinner.
- For the grilled cheese: Toast the bread in the oven. Make the cheese mixture and spread it on top of the bread. Pop it in the oven until the cheese melts.
- For the tomato soup: Sauté chopped onions and red pepper flakes in a soup pot. Add canned tomatoes and simmer for 30 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, puree, done.
The cheese mixture for the sandwich includes grated sharp cheddar cheese, grated onion, dijon mustard and a bit of mayo to hold it all together. The combination of flavors is incredible.
If you have an immersion blender (one of my favorite kitchen gadgets) you can puree the soup right in the pot rather than having to transfer it to a food processor or blender. It will save you lots of time and messy clean up.
In Praise of Open-Faced Grilled Cheese Sandwiches cooked in the oven
What I love about open-faced grilled cheese sandwiches is the higher cheese-to-bread ratio. It's the same reason I prefer thin crust pizza over thick and why I hollow out bagels before toasting them and topping with cream cheese and salmon.
It's not about reducing calories, though that's a nice side benefit. It's more that I don't want to dilute the delicious flavors of sandwich fillings and pizza toppings with too much bread and dough. Another benefit of the open-faced grilled cheese is that you don't have to stand over a frying pan and you can cook multiple sandwiches at the same time.
These crisp cheesy sandwiches are a perfect partner for this rich spicy tomato soup.
If you want to add something green to this meal, I suggest a butter lettuce salad with Citrus dressing or a this raw kale salad with honey lemon parmesan dressing.
Here's the oven grilled cheese and tomato soup recipe. If you try this recipe, I hope you'll come back to leave a star rating and a comment. I'd love to know what you think!Print
Oven Grilled Cheese and Tomato Soup
- Total Time: 45 mins
- Yield: 6 1x
Grilled cheese and tomato soup is the ultimate comfort food pairing and the perfect lunch combo. Here are two easy and super delicious recipes for this dynamic duo.
For The Tomato Soup
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 cup chopped yellow onion (1 medium onion)
- 2 28-ounce cans Italian plum tomatoes (San Marzano or Muir Glen Organic is best)
- 1 ½ cups water
- ½ teaspoon salt
- fresh ground pepper, to taste
- 18-24 fresh basil leaves, slivered, optional garnish
- Plain yogurt, sour cream, or creme fraiche, optional garnish
For The Grilled Cheese
- 6 slices of sour dough bread cut in half (or your favorite sandwich bread)
- 6 ounces grated extra sharp cheddar cheese (I used Cracker Barrel Extra Sharp)
- ¾ cup very finely chopped or grated yellow onion (you can use a food processor)
- 2 tablespoons mayonnaise (I recommend Hellman's)
- 1 tablespoon dijon mustard (I recommend Grey Poupon)
- Preheat oven to broil. (see notes about oven temperatures)
- Heat oil in a large heavy pot heat oil over medium heat. Add chopped onion and red pepper flakes. Sauté for 8-10 minutes until onion is softened and just starting to brown. Add tomatoes and their juice, water and salt. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes. Cool soup for 5 minutes or so and puree to your desired consistency using an immersion blender, blender or food processor. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
- Meanwhile put bread onto a sheet pan and toast lightly in the hot oven with the door slightly ajar for 2-3 minutes, watching carefully to avoid burning. Remove pan and set aside to cool. (Keep the oven on)
- In a bowl, stir grated cheese, onion, mayonnaise and mustard to combine. Flip bread over so the toasted side is facing down. Divide the cheese mixture evenly onto the bread, using a fork to press it down and spread it out to the edges.
- Right before serving, broil the sandwiches in the center of the preheated oven for 3 minutes. Continue cooking for 1-2 minutes longer with oven door slightly open, watching the sandwiches as they start to get brown and bubbly. When you see brown spots covering about ⅓ of each sandwich, remove them from the oven and tent with foil while you divide the soup among 6 bowls. Top soup with a dollop of yogurt or sour cream and some slivered basil, if you like. Serve with sandwiches alongside.
Ovens Differ: If you have the type of oven that shuts off when you open the door, use a lower oven temperature for this recipe and keep the door shut. I recommend 400ºF for toasting the bread and melting the cheese.
Make Ahead Strategies: Both the soup and the cheese mixture can be made up to 2 days ahead, each stored in a covered container in the fridge. Reheat soup gently on the stove. Bring cheese mixture to room temperature before using.
- Prep Time: 15 mins
- Cook Time: 30 mins
- Category: lunch or dinner
- Method: oven bake
- Cuisine: American
These are great!
Oh Lisa , this was so good thanx hun 🙂
I'm so glad! Thank you for letting me know Peter 🙂
Beth (OMG! Yummy)
This is lovely - I really like the idea of the open faced grilled cheese and the spicy tomato soup - this is going on my menu next week!
Michelle | A Dish of Daily Life
Looks like the perfect comfort food meal to me! Its supposed to be really cold and snowy here this weekend...just right for this! I love that your tomato soup has a little kick to it!
Denise Browning@From Brazil To You
Hi, Lisa! It is my first time here. Thanks a lot for visiting me.
What a perfect meal to enjoy on these cold winter days...I am a fan of both tomato soup and grilled cheese. I am looking forward to try your recipe with the red pepper flakes. I love some heat! wishing you an awesome weekend!
Nicely done combinations.
For guys who may be a little cooking-challenged like me, this is a good one to make you a hero in this cold weather. Enjoy.