Al Dente

Grilled Cheese Sandwiches And Tomato Soup

56 posts in this topic

I'll be taking a trip to a cabin near Deep Creek Lake in a few weeks with some family and I'm on the hook for a day's worth of meals. Breakfast and dinner are already mapped out, but I only have the general outline ready for lunch. Grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup sounds good to me, but I want to "kick it up a few notches" to borrow a phrase.

I'm a pretty good home cook, but I'm clueless when it comes to baking, so I doubt I'll bake my own bread. But maybe if someone has a straightforward recipe for bread suitable for the perfect grilled cheese, I'll give it a try. What would be the ideal cheese? Is there a great tomato soup recipe out there? Is there some kind of wacky Adria/Andres concept out there for a deconstructed version of this cold weather classic combo?

Any and all ideas welcome.

Thanks,
Al

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I'll be taking a trip to a cabin near Deep Creek Lake in a few weeks with some family and I'm on the hook for a day's worth of meals. Breakfast and dinner are already mapped out, but I only have the general outline ready for lunch. Grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup sounds good to me, but I want to "kick it up a few notches" to borrow a phrase.

I'm a pretty good home cook, but I'm clueless when it comes to baking, so I doubt I'll bake my own bread. But maybe if someone has a straightforward recipe for bread suitable for the perfect grilled cheese, I'll give it a try. What would be the ideal cheese? Is there a great tomato soup recipe out there? Is there some kind of wacky Adria/Andres concept out there for a deconstructed version of this cold weather classic combo?

Any and all ideas welcome.

Thanks,

Al

You're in a cabin in the woods: Use Caerphilly and make a classic Welsh Rarebit, make a mild, smooth, thick, creamy tomato soup, serve freshly-ground white pepper on the side of the plate to be used at the diner's discretion, and don't deconstruct a thing.

Cheers,

Rocks.

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I'll be taking a trip to a cabin near Deep Creek Lake in a few weeks with some family and I'm on the hook for a day's worth of meals. Breakfast and dinner are already mapped out, but I only have the general outline ready for lunch. Grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup sounds good to me, but I want to "kick it up a few notches" to borrow a phrase.

I'm a pretty good home cook, but I'm clueless when it comes to baking, so I doubt I'll bake my own bread. But maybe if someone has a straightforward recipe for bread suitable for the perfect grilled cheese, I'll give it a try. What would be the ideal cheese? Is there a great tomato soup recipe out there? Is there some kind of wacky Adria/Andres concept out there for a deconstructed version of this cold weather classic combo?

Any and all ideas welcome.

Thanks,

Al

Mike,

Screw Adria and screw deconstructed. Go to Trader Joe's and buy some "Texas Toast" bread. Get some sharp Wisconsin cheddar. Get some sweet, ripe tomatoes. Fry some quality bacon. Make sure to fry the grilled cheese sandwiches in whole butter. You'll thank me.

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The New Joy of Cooking has a recipe for basic white bread that came out really well when a friend of ours made it for brunch. I think it would be a good grilled cheese bread, but I haven't tried that application.

It's called Fast White Bread and is on p. 744 of my hardcover copy. (If you want to try it out and don't have the book, PM me for the recipe.)

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Go to Cheesetique and get some Cotswold. This cheese is a double-Gloucester cheese and then adds onions and chives to create a savory and sharp cheese. Not very expensive, like $13/lb., and works great in a grilled cheese.

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as Mark suggested the addition of a couple rashers of bacon is paramount.
My preferred grilled cheese has tomato, bacon, and mustard. Turkey bacon is a nice change. To me turkey bacon tastes more like ham than pork bacon does. I know that's weird, but...

A really good mustard also adds something to the sandwich (my husband, who doesn't like mustard, disagrees with this).

And on the kicking it up a notch, potato chips are also necessary with this meal. I've never been too successful at making them myself, but I'll throw the idea out there anyway.

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Mustard?! Good Heavens.

Thickly sliced bread, gouda, a little smoked gouda, thinly sliced apple, bacon. (Mmmmmmm. We might just have this for lunch today. :) )

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Mustard?! Good Heavens.

Thickly sliced bread, gouda, a little smoked gouda, thinly sliced apple, bacon. (Mmmmmmm. We might just have this for lunch today. :) )

The mustard really brings out something in the cheese. I know, people who don't care for mustard don't believe in this theory, but I'm sticking with it :) (And that Welsh Rarebit recipe surely has mustard in it :wub: )

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Pain de Mie (or a lean brioche), sharp cheddar and onion confit. Grilled low and slow.

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I really like the Alton Brown trick of making the grilled cheese in a cast iron skillet with another (hot) skillet on top to act almost like a panini press. I also like a little heat mixed with my grated cheese. And if it's just me, sometimes a little ground cumin.

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:) Mark's definitely spot-on here: all of these highfalutin variations might be good, but people, please- this is grilled cheese we're talking about! My only suggestion would be to use butter and sharpest cheddar you can get your hands on (and grate it). Though sourdough and mustard are good (did you get that from Alton Brown, too?), texas toast will give you the perfect ur-sandwich.

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The mustard really brings out something in the cheese. I know, people who don't care for mustard don't believe in this theory, but I'm sticking with it :) (And that Welsh Rarebit recipe surely has mustard in it :) )
I'll absolutely back you up on this. A bit of dijon on a grilled cheese adds a great spicy/vinegary counterpoint to the fat and carbohydrates. (I also think a bit of mustard in crucial on a breakfast egg sandwich, and they always look at me wierd when I order it that way.)

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I'll absolutely back you up on this. A bit of dijon on a grilled cheese adds a great spicy/vinegary counterpoint to the fat and carbohydrates. (I also think a bit of mustard in crucial on a breakfast egg sandwich, and they always look at me wierd when I order it that way.)
The astringent qualities of mustard work well in a variety of ways. I often use it in dry rubs and marinades too.

I actually learned the mustard on grilled cheese thing from my mother (which probably means it came from my grandmother. My grandmother made good grilled cheese, but I don't remember the particulars.) Mom used French's mustard, to go along with the Stroehmann's white bread and Kraft cheese singles. I still sometimes use the Kraft singles (they're a good size and melt nicely), but I use multigrain, rye, or pumpernickel bread and dijon mustard. I've been liking dijon with horseradish a lot lately.

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This is one of my favorite combos. I love adding croutons to the basic tomato soup. Some of the sharper and aged cheddars can be develop a strange texture for those fond of the basic cheddar sandwich. Sometimes I add a bit of mustard and through a tomato on the grill to add to the sandwich.

Just another cheese to consider is a parmesan cheese sandwich (from Cooking with Mr. Latte). Its a nice variation.

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Another nice version of the grilled cheese-tomato soup combo is grilled mozzarella on Italian bread with a side of chunky marinara for dipping. Mmmmm...

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Another nice version of the grilled cheese-tomato soup combo is grilled mozzarella on Italian bread with a side of chunky marinara for dipping. Mmmmm...
I'm a fan of the grilled mozzarella. Smoked mozarella is nice too. Add a variety of toppings depending on mood -- roasted peppers, roasted garlic, tomato, basil, spinach, prosciutto, genoa salami, roasted eggplant. But I stick with tomato soup for dunking. Maybe roasted tomato soup with lots of garlic and basil.

Hmmm...maybe dinner tonight.

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Call me unsophisticated but give me a Wonder bread/texas toast and Kraft singles grilled cheese anyday. Probably love it for the same reason I love my old beat up, painted on Tshirts over my brand new nice ones, sentimental value.

I love this combo when I am sick and at that point I usually don't feel like cooking anything but if you want a ready made soup in a can, there is an Amy's Kitchen tomato soup and tomato bisque that I ate a couple of times after I had my wisdom teeth pulled. I thought it was pretty tasty. Although I was pretty loopy on painkillers and ridiculously hungry for real food, so who knows, maybe it is actually horrible.

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Call me unsophisticated but give me a Wonder bread/texas toast and Kraft singles grilled cheese anyday. Probably love it for the same reason I love my old beat up, painted on Tshirts over my brand new nice ones, sentimental value.

I love this combo when I am sick and at that point I usually don't feel like cooking anything but if you want a ready made soup in a can, there is an Amy's Kitchen tomato soup and tomato bisque that I ate a couple of times after I had my wisdom teeth pulled. I thought it was pretty tasty. Although I was pretty loopy on painkillers and ridiculously hungry for real food, so who knows, maybe it is actually horrible.

I actually have both of those Amy's soups in my pantry. They are defintely not terrible, but they also do not resemble Campbell's in any way, if that's what one is craving.

Mr. Squids introduced me to the best grilled cheese---with a thin shmear of mayo. It really adds to the creaminess of the melted cheese. I've also tried mustard, and do like it, but the mayo rules. I hadn't ever heard of it before, but am definitely a convert. We can't be the only ones?

As far as bread goes, if you want some really good thick bread (Texas toast style) try Effie's--they sell it at our local Giant, and we've also found it at Han Ah Reum. Extremely dense, fine grain, slightly sweet. Myself, I prefer a smaller bread-to-cheese ratio for my grilled cheese sammies.

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Mr. Squids introduced me to the best grilled cheese---with a thin shmear of mayo. It really adds to the creaminess of the melted cheese. I've also tried mustard, and do like it, but the mayo rules. I hadn't ever heard of it before, but am definitely a convert. We can't be the only ones?
Among the variations on grilled cheese I make is grilled turkey and cheese (usually swiss or provolone). I use mayo on that instead of mustard, and it is good.

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I know you said you were going to be in a cabin and don't want to be hauling a bunch of cooking equiptment around. I DO need to remind how marvelous it is to make grilled cheese in a waffle iron. It just doesn't get much crispier. I like Wisconsin Cheddar,thin apple slices on dark wheat in the waffle iron. Yum.

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Cabot's presliced cheddar, Health Nut bread, mayo on the bread, unsalted butter in the cast iron pan, with a weight on top (another cast iron pan works fine).

I would not use a really excellent cheese in a grilled cheese sandwich. The other flavors overwhelm.

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Can grilled cheese sandwiches actually be grilled? I.e. on a charcoal grate over hot coals? Or is pan frying the recommended method?

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Can grilled cheese sandwiches actually be grilled? I.e. on a charcoal grate over hot coals? Or is pan frying the recommended method?
I've done it , but I actually think they come out better on a griddle. The bread really needs to fry in the butter, in my opinion.

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Lunch today was P'tit Basque and Cabot cheddar, Vidalia onion, Dijon mustard and vine-ripe tomato on rye bread, pan-grilled in a mix of butter and olive oil. And canned soup. It's been a while since I've indulged in grilled cheese, but this thread inspired me.

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I made the bread recipe I mentioned upthread. It is very good. Tomorrow I will try it out with grilled cheese sandwiches. Ooh, good bread.

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I love grilled brie, pears (or apples), and carmelized onions.

For the soup try a tomato gorganzola. Add the gorganzola to a good chunky soup, I normally make my own though if I have both on hand I've combined Amy's bisque and cheese for a quick meal.

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We just had grilled cheese and tomato soup for lunch. The sandwiches--using the above-referenced white bread recipe--were fabulous. I cut the bread fairly thick, a la Texas toast, and used dijon horseradish mustard on mine, plus a slice of fresh tomato, two slices of turkey bacon, and two slices of Cabot cheddar, with unsalted butter spread on the outside of the bread slices.

I also used a New Joy of Cooking recipe for the soup and followed the suggestion of adding a little pesto. This was also quite good, except for my unfortunate tendency not to puree pesto quite smoothly enough.

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I couldn't resist. My fiancee LOVES grilled cheese and tomato soup, so after reading this thread, I decided to take some inspiration and make up my OWN take on this age-old classic. I've never made tomato soup before, so this is all just guessing... it tasted great, so I make no apologies if it's at all unconventional. :)

The Soup

Sweat a bunch of onions in butter, add celery seed, cloves, cumin, salt, pepper, garlic. Toast pine nuts, then use my trusty new mortar and pestle to mix with basil. Toss this simple pesto into the onion mixture. Add flour, tomato paste, and cook. Add marsala, chicken broth, and the all-important sea-and-smoke Laphroaig scotch. Toss in a bunch of cans of whole, diced, or fire roasted canned tomatoes (whatever's in the pantry), and let simmer until you wake up from your nap. Puree the whole thing in a blender and pour through a sieve. Adjust the seasonings as needed (i.e. add more scotch), and add way too much heavy cream.

The Sandwiches

Fresh organic rustic bread from Whole Foods. Spread one side with German mustard, the other with mayo. Grate 1 part parmesan and 5 parts Dubliner cheddar from Cheesetique (which I bought WAY too much of, but which is the perfect, quintessential grilled cheese... cheese), toss on the sandwich. Also include some crispy fried, chopped pancetta. I tried Alton Brown's method of using two cast-iron skillets, but the one on top never stayed hot enough, and the top slice of bread kept sticking, despite my liberal use of oil, so I just ended up using one of the skillets and a spatula.

Dip the sandwiches in the soup and wash down with a bottle of Hoegarden, then sit back on the couch with a glass of the aforementioned Laphroaig and watch the Michigan game.

pa071326jj0.th.jpg

This was my first "test" sandwich using the Alton Brown method... hence the slight mangling :)

Life CAN'T get much better than this... can it?

EDIT: I almost forgot! A HUGE thank you to the always astoundingly knowledgeable people at Cheesetique for their insight and their recommendation of the Dubliner! It was PERFECT!

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The Soup Add flour, tomato paste, and cook. Add marsala, chicken broth, and the all-important sea-and-smoke Laphroaig scotch. Adjust the seasonings as needed (i.e. add more scotch)
You put LAPHROAIG in Tomato Soup???? :) Are you NUTS, or just rich?

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You put LAPHROAIG in Tomato Soup???? :) Are you NUTS, or just rich?
I wanted a unique way to add a nice autumn smokiness...

And there's no cheap scotch in my house. :)

So, nuts. Not rich. Nuts.

At the risk of going off topic, I was badly spoiled on scotch. I remember growing up. When I was a young boy, my dad drank Chivas Regal. When I was in middle and high school, he moved up to Glen Livet. By the time I was old enough to drink, he was on to Laphroaig. So while he was drinking scotch within his means, I just can't turn to drinking swill after being first introduced to the good stuff. Now he's on Lagavulin... be still, my wallet.

Going back ON topic... the scotch worked really, really well. You don't see many recipes that make use of it.

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Going back ON topic... the scotch worked really, really well. You don't see many recipes that make use of it.
How much did you use? The photo of the soup looks really enticing.

Speaking of things I wouldn't of think of putting whiskey in...I've never ordered this, so my recollection of the menu description might be off, but at Trustys on PA Ave., SE, they put bourbon (or some kind of whiskey) in the onions that go on the burgers, etc. I thought the menu description said bourbon onions but had forgotten about it, then one day I noticed the bartender grabbing a bottle from under the bar and pouring from it onto the flattop where he was frying up the onions. I should ask about this next time I'm in there. It intrigues me.

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How much did you use? The photo of the soup looks really enticing.
Just a splash. I wanted people to think "Wow, the Fall is AWESOME," not "Eww, what tastes like dirt thrown onto a fire?"

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Inspired by this thread and a hangover, I am currently eating a no-frills grilled cheese: whole wheat bread, American cheese, turkey bacon, honey dijon on the inside and butter on the outside. Grilled on my George Foreman. Nothing fancy, but it hits the spot.

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I'm sure the suspense is killing you, so I'll spill the beans on what I ended up serving. I'm ashamed to admit I didn't make the soup from scratch. I fully intended to make the recipe Bilrus gave a link for, but when push came to shoving the shopping cart, I grabbed a couple of boxes of creamy tomato soup from Whole Foods. I also picked up some multigrain bread, plugra butter, and emmenthaler. Everyone enjoyed their lunch-- they're not a major foodie crowd anyway. Plus it gave me more time to fish in the lake. Caught a few nice sized largemouths so I suppose it was worth it to slack off in the kitchen. :)

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Because everyone at donrockwell.com comes to expect this kind of intelligent discussion from me, I ask you to consider this article. I mean, I like a grilled cheese sandwich as much as the next guy. Though, I must say that I prefer my sandwich bound in bacon. And with spicy mustard. And occasionally, I like a double decker sandwich. Does this make me a bad person?

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Can grilled cheese sandwiches actually be grilled? I.e. on a charcoal grate over hot coals? Or is pan frying the recommended method?

I was in India recently and after several drinks, we convinced the tandoor chef to make us grilled cheese sandwiches over the tandoor oven. Place several long tandoor skewers over the oven opening, thus making a grill, place sandwich on top. The oven runs so hot that the bread "grilled" in about 30 seconds...unfortunately that did not give the cheese enough time to melt.

Our efforts to make cheese naan were a little less successful.

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Because everyone at donrockwell.com comes to expect this kind of intelligent discussion from me, I ask you to consider this article. I mean, I like a grilled cheese sandwich as much as the next guy. Though, I must say that I prefer my sandwich bound in bacon. And with spicy mustard. And occasionally, I like a double decker sandwich. Does this make me a bad person?
The commenters on that article made an admirable effort (well, at least through the few dozen comments I read).

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Because everyone at donrockwell.com comes to expect this kind of intelligent discussion from me, I ask you to consider this article. I mean, I like a grilled cheese sandwich as much as the next guy. Though, I must say that I prefer my sandwich bound in bacon. And with spicy mustard. And occasionally, I like a double decker sandwich. Does this make me a bad person?
You like bacon, you say? Here's Peter Smith's take on a stacked, bacon-rich grilled cheese sandwich that he made recently: Washingtonian video (June 4 2009)

Grilled cheese sandwiches are to the aughts what mac and cheese was to the nineties I am guessing, at least in restaurants in Penn Quarter. Chef Terri Cutrino of Café Atlantico is making them with a combination of sharp, aged cheese and soft, fresh mozzarella. Drizzle of white truffle oil. A little arugula, too, maybe?

(And to answer your question: no, of course not. Ketchup would be wrong!)

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I haven't bought soft squishy white bread in a very long time, but--feeling nostalgic for the way Mom did Thanksgiving--I bought some Stroehmann's to make stuffing. I had a few extra slices and decided to make grilled cheese for lunch, using some sliced Muenster I had. I had totally forgotten what awesome grilled cheese this bread makes. It's what I grew up eating, but then I grew out of it or got too good for it :( or something.

Served with some leftover Spicy Parnsip Soup.

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What's the best way to cook a grilled cheese?

I can get the bread golden brown, but the cheese stays cold. I can get the cheese melted, but the bread is overcooked.

What if I cooked it open-faced under the broiler just until the cheese softened, then finished it in a skillet?

Or why use a skillet at all? Why not just finished the entire thing under the broiler?

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What's the best way to cook a grilled cheese?

I can get the bread golden brown, but the cheese stays cold. I can get the cheese melted, but the bread is overcooked.

What if I cooked it open-faced under the broiler just until the cheese softened, then finished it in a skillet?

Or why use a skillet at all? Why not just finished the entire thing under the broiler?

You should be able to get it all done in a skillet. I use a Le Creuset enameled cast iron pan. Melt butter in pan, place sandwich, keep heat at medium and be patient. Lift sandwich and melt more butter. Flip. Be patient.

Eat-golden and crunchy on the outside, gooey on the inside.

My "twist" when making grilled cheese is to use mayo and mustard as they meld into the cheese and make people go "hmmm..?"

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What's the best way to cook a grilled cheese?

I can get the bread golden brown, but the cheese stays cold. I can get the cheese melted, but the bread is overcooked.

What if I cooked it open-faced under the broiler just until the cheese softened, then finished it in a skillet?

Or why use a skillet at all? Why not just finished the entire thing under the broiler?

one way to do it is grate the cheese and pack it into the bread; when the butter is hot, sautee the sandwich in the skillet over low medium heat, cover it for a minute or two at the start, flip it when the bread is brown (you might have to add some more butter), and watch the heat, gradually raising it as the cheese gets going. you wouldn't do it this way in a restaurant. it's too slow, can take 15 minutes. i slice the bread fairly thick, so often use a kettle filled with water to press it flat, depending on the texture of the bread, which helps things move along. you can just let the kettle sit on the bread, but not for long without checking your progress. in a big pan you can cook two big sandwiches at a time, but not much more. if you are using cheddar, which is on the hard side, you can mix it with a cheese that is softer. i know the cheese is molten when a small amount starts running out of the bread; i push it back against the bread with a spatula and watch to make sure it doesn't burn. this is not a wonder bread grilled cheese that comes to the counter with a dill pickle. it is considerably more substantial. i can afford to eat something like this maybe once a month. i probably shouldn't eat something like this at all.

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You should be able to get it all done in a skillet. I use a Le Creuset enameled cast iron pan. Melt butter in pan, place sandwich, keep heat at medium and be patient. Lift sandwich and melt more butter. Flip. Be patient.

Eat-golden and crunchy on the outside, gooey on the inside.

My "twist" when making grilled cheese is to use mayo and mustard as they meld into the cheese and make people go "hmmm..?"

There's the trick. Lower the heat and be willing to wait.

Santa brought me a panini press last year and I've been making various grilled cheese sandwiches for lunch. The two favorites are both on Pugliese bread from Costco. One is aged cheddar with piquin pepper jelly, and the other is chevre and roasted asparagus. Yum. Is is lunchtime yet?

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I'd echo the advice to be patient and cook the sandwich fairly slowly, while pressing down on it. I use a skillet or a flat griddle pan to cook and a spatula to press down. The griddle pan doesn't have sides to speak of, so it makes it easier to work with the sandwich.

I usually soften butter a while in advance and spread it on the bread rather than melting it in the skillet, but I don't know why. Probably just because that's the way my mother and grandmother did it. I butter both sides of the bread and put a little Dijon mustard on the inside of the slices (except for my husband's grilled cheese, since he doesn't like mustard).

I've been wanting to try this method but haven't done it yet. Try it and let us know how it works, Dan :lol: .

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I usually soften butter a while in advance and spread it on the bread rather than melting it in the skillet, but I don't know why. Probably just because that's the way my mother and grandmother did it.

I agree with the ladies in your family. I do it that way, and on a nonstick griddle over medium heat, cheddar oozes and bread nice and golden brown in 5-7 minutes, I'd say, flipping once.

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I usually soften butter a while in advance and spread it on the bread rather than melting it in the skillet, but I don't know why.

You get much better, even browning that way.

Cast iron skillet, very low heat, and if the bottom slice of bread browns too fast, pull off the top slice and run the pan under the broiler until the cheese melts, replace the top slice, and brown that.

But why do people smash a grilled cheese sandwich? I've never understood that.

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But why do people smash a grilled cheese sandwich? I've never understood that.

Cheese oozing action??

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You get much better, even browning that way.

Cast iron skillet, very low heat, and if the bottom slice of bread browns too fast, pull off the top slice and run the pan under the broiler until the cheese melts, replace the top slice, and brown that.

But why do people smash a grilled cheese sandwich? I've never understood that.

I'd weight the sandwich down with thick bread. I like condensed, pressed bread, like paninis.

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But why do people smash a grilled cheese sandwich? I've never understood that.

I don't smash it, just press down on it. That seems to result in a better layer of cheese. If the cheese is in slices and still giving a little resistance, pushing down seems to help with that.

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Thanks for bumping this topic lperry! I made grilled cheese and tomato soup for dinner tonight. The grilled cheese (trader joe's cheddar/gruyere hybrid on seven grain bread from wegmans) was excellent. My tomato soup... lackluster. I used this recipe promoted by Dave lebowitz. http://www.davidlebovitz.com/2013/08/roasted-tomato-soup-with-corn-salsa-recipe/ and its just blah. I would stir in some tomato paste or the like but the only one in my parents house (where I am currently housesitting) says best by 2007 and I am too lazy to go out for more at this point. The tomatoes (plum) and thyme are from the garden, garlic from the farmers market.

 

Does anyone have a go- to tomato soup recipe? I'd like to try again.

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Thanks for bumping this topic lperry! I made grilled cheese and tomato soup for dinner tonight. The grilled cheese (trader joe's cheddar/gruyere hybrid on seven grain bread from wegmans) was excellent. My tomato soup... lackluster. I used this recipe promoted by Dave lebowitz. http://www.davidlebovitz.com/2013/08/roasted-tomato-soup-with-corn-salsa-recipe/ and its just blah. I would stir in some tomato paste or the like but the only one in my parents house (where I am currently housesitting) says best by 2007 and I am too lazy to go out for more at this point. The tomatoes (plum) and thyme are from the garden, garlic from the farmers market.

 

Does anyone have a go- to tomato soup recipe? I'd like to try again.

 

I wouldn't say this is my go-to recipe, but it's definitely not blah: Spicy Tomato Soup recipe from Michael Symon.  My husband doesn't like blue cheese, so I mix that in separately to my portion.

 

This is another one I've made that is quite good and more traditional.  My husband had it at one of their restaurants in Colorado, and I found their recipe online.  Adding the olive oil at the end really makes a difference, though it seems wrong to me <_< .

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