Grown-Up Grilled Cheese and Tomato Soup

When I think back to a childhood comfort meal, grilled cheese and tomato soup is always the first thing that comes to mind. Who didn’t have this combination at least once growing up? It’s been a really snowy week here in Indy and I decided that a comfort meal was definitely called for, but it needed to be “grown-up” a bit. No pre-sliced, pre-packaged cheeses or soups out of a can for me.

About a year and a half ago, a friend gave me a copy of Cook This, Not That!: Kitchen Survival Guide when I was trying to lose weight for my wedding. In it was a recipe for a healthy version of a grilled cheese sandwich that had bacon on it. And used real butter! I was flabbergasted. To eat bacon and use butter when trying to lose weight? It couldn’t be possible. Or could it? Instead of buttering every slice of bread, the butter is melted in the pan to grill the sandwiches, allowing you to use less butter overall, yet still imparting the flavor to the bread. Green apple slices are also put in the sandwiches to add another layer of flavor AND a serving of fruit to your day.

For the tomato soup, I decided to make a recipe I found on Pinterest that apparently everyone raved over. It called for crushed tomatoes and fresh basil leaves, but since it’s December in Indiana, I bought crushed tomatoes that had basil in them and figured that was good enough. I could smell the basil while the tomatoes were simmering and I couldn’t wait for everything to be ready so I could blend it and dig in!

Grown-Up Grilled Cheese and Tomato Soup

Grilled Cheese with Apples and Bacon

  • 1T butter
  • 8 slices whole-grain bread (I only had white bread on hand)
  • 1T Dijon Mustard
  • 6 oz shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
  • 1 Granny Smith apple, cored and sliced
  • 8 strips cooked bacon

Heat the butter in a large skillet or nonstick sauté pan over low heat. Slather 4 slices of bread with the mustard, then divide the cheese, apples and bacon among them. Top with the other bread slices and add to the hot pan. Cook these sandwiches until each side is deep brown and crunchy, about 10-12 minutes total.

Tomato-Basil Soup

  • 4 cups canned, crushed tomatoes (I used two 28 oz cans)
  • 12 fresh basil leaves plus extra for garnish, if desired.
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 stick (1/4 cup) butter
  • Salt to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground pepper

Simmer tomatoes in saucepan for 30 minutes. Puree, with the basil leaves, in small batches in a blender or food processor. Alternatively, you could use crushed tomatoes with basil (I used Tuttorosso Crushed Tomatoes in Thick Puree with Basil. I also used my immersion blender to puree the tomatoes in the pan.) Return to saucepan and add cream, butter, salt and pepper while stirring over low heat. Garnish with basil leaves.