Recipe Rescue: Grilled Cheese and Tomato Soup

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Okay, who doesn't love a good old-fashioned grilled cheese sandwich on a rainy day? Or even better, a grilled cheese sandwich served with a steaming bowl of creamy tomato soup. April showers bring May flowers; but in the meantime, here's how to revisit childhood (or make new memories for your own kids/grandkids!) without venturing out into the pouring rain.

(Scroll to the bottom of the post for a printable PDF version of the recipe)

How to make a satisfying and hearty grilled cheese:
  • Use a combo of butter and olive oil in the pan to cut down on saturated fat
  • Forget white bread - use 100% whole grain to add flavor, texture, and nutrition
  • Opt for reduced-fat natural cheese slices rather than processed cheese singles, and choose stronger-flavored cheeses like sharp cheddar, swiss, or pepper jack
  • Enjoy half a sandwich with a cup of tomato soup and a lightly dressed green salad

As for tomato soup, pump up the flavor with onion, garlic, and high quality Italian canned plum tomatoes. Infuse earthy notes into the soup with bay leaf and fresh thyme. No need to add cream - simply puree the soup in a blender or food processor for a smooth, silky texture.

Nutrition Facts Face-Off!

Compare one cup of homemade tomato soup and half grilled cheese sandwich compared to a cup of tomato soup and half grilled cheese sandwich from a popular fast-casual restaurant.

Image removed.

Classic Grilled Cheese and Tomato Soup (Printable PDF Version)

 

Grilled Cheese

Makes 2 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 teaspoon unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 2 slices 100% whole grain bread (e.g., 12-grain, whole wheat, etc.)
  • 4 slices reduced-fat cheese such as swiss, sharp cheddar, pepper jack

Directions

  1. Melt butter and olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat.
  2. Set one slice of bread in the bottom of the skillet. Top with cheese slices and remaining slice of bread. Let cook for several minutes, then flip over when bread is a dark golden brown.
  3. Cook the opposite side until it has reached the same color.
  4. Continue flipping sandwich until the cheese has melted to desired consistency.
  5. Serve immediately.

Nutrition Facts (1/2 sandwich): Calories 250, Total Fat 15g (Saturated 7g), Cholesterol 35mg, Sodium 450mg, Total Carbohydrate 20g, Dietary Fiber 4g, Protein 15g, Vitamin A 10% DV, Vitamin C 0% DV, Calcium 35% DV, Iron 6% DV

 

Tomato Soup

Makes about 8 cups

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 large sweet onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic (about 3 cloves)
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 3 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 28 ounce can San Marzano plum tomatoes
  • 1 ½ teaspoons sugar
  • 1 sprig fresh thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Salt and black pepper
  • Optional garnishes: Thinly sliced fresh basil, crumbled cooked bacon, grated Parmesan cheese

Directions

  1. Heat the oil and butter over medium-low heat until butter melts.
  2. Add onion and garlic and saute until softened.
  3. Stir in flour so that onion and garlic are coated.
  4. Add broth, tomatoes (including liquid), sugar, thyme, and bay leaf.
  5. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally. Reduce to heat to low, cover, and simmer for about 40 minutes.
  6. Remove bay leaf and thyme. Let cool slightly, then puree the soup using an immersion blender (hand-held) or by transferring to a food blender or processor.
  7. Rinse the pot, then pour the blended soup back into the pot. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  8. Garnish if desired and serve warm.

Recipe Tips:

  • Be extremely careful when pureeing hot soup in a blender. To prevent mishaps and injuries, puree in small batches. Keep the lid slightly open (to allow steam to escape) and cover the top with a dishtowel to prevent the soup from coming out.

Nutrition Facts (1 cup): Calories 100, Total Fat 5g (Saturated 1g), Cholesterol 4mg, Sodium 350mg, Total Carbohydrate 13g, Dietary Fiber 2g, Protein 2g, Vitamin A 15% DV, Vitamin C 20% DV, Calcium 4% DV, Iron 8% DV

 

Today's post was written by Leia Kedem. Leia Kedem, MS, RD, is a registered dietitian and Nutrition & Wellness Educator covering Champaign, Ford, Iroquois, and Vermilion Counties. She appears weekly on WCIA-3/WCIX-49 and is a biweekly contributor to the Champaign-Urbana News-Gazette. She also maintains Facebook and Twitter accounts where she regularly posts health tips and answers nutrition questions for free.