In the realm of comfort food, few duos can rival the timeless charm of a steaming bowl of creamy tomato basil soup paired with a perfectly grilled cheese sandwich. This iconic combination has been warming hearts and bellies for generations, transcending culinary trends and earning a special place in our gastronomic lexicon.
The origins of tomato soup can be traced back to ancient times when tomatoes were introduced to Europe from the New World. However, it was only in the 18th century that the tomato gained widespread acceptance as a food ingredient. Tomato soup as we know it today began to take shape in the 19th century, thanks in part to the culinary innovations of French and Italian chefs.
The addition of basil to tomato soup is a nod to the Mediterranean, where these two ingredients have been used in tandem for centuries. Basil’s fragrant, peppery notes complement the sweet acidity of tomatoes, creating a harmonious flavor profile.
Grilled cheese, on the other hand, is a product of American ingenuity. While the concept of melting cheese on bread has roots in various cuisines worldwide, the modern grilled cheese sandwich became popular in the United States during the early 20th century.
Preparation: Creamy Tomato Basil Soup
Step 1 – Sauté the Aromatics: In a large pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the chopped onions and sauté for 3-4 minutes until they become translucent. Add the minced garlic and cook for an additional 30 seconds, being careful not to brown it.
Step 2 – Simmer Tomatoes: Add the canned whole tomatoes (with their juices) and tomato sauce to the pot. Use a wooden spoon to break up the whole tomatoes. Stir in the chicken or vegetable broth, sugar, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Bring the mixture to a simmer and let it cook for 15-20 minutes, allowing the flavors to meld.
Step 3 – Blend the Soup: Using an immersion blender or a countertop blender, carefully puree the soup until smooth. If using a countertop blender, return the soup to the pot after blending.
Step 4 – Add Cream and Basil: Stir in the heavy cream and chopped basil leaves. Simmer for an additional 5-10 minutes, allowing the soup to thicken slightly. Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper to taste.
Step 5 – Serve: Ladle the creamy tomato basil soup into bowls and garnish with a few fresh basil leaves. Optionally, you can drizzle a bit of olive oil on top for extra richness.
Preparation: Grilled Cheese Sandwich
Step 1 – Assemble the Sandwiches: Lay out 4 slices of bread and place an equal amount of sliced cheddar cheese on each. Top with the remaining bread slices to create 4 sandwiches.
Step 2 – Butter the Bread: Spread softened butter evenly over one side of each sandwich.
Step 3 – Grill the Sandwiches: Heat a skillet or griddle over medium heat. Place the buttered side of the sandwiches down on the hot surface. Cook for 3-4 minutes, or until the bottom is golden brown and the cheese begins to melt.
Step 4 – Flip and Cook: Carefully flip the sandwiches and cook the other side for an additional 3-4 minutes, or until both sides are golden brown, and the cheese is completely melted.
Step 5 – Serve: Remove the grilled cheese sandwiches from the heat, cut them in half diagonally if desired, and serve alongside a warm bowl of creamy tomato basil soup.