rainy day tomato basil soup and grilled cheddar cheese

A classic in every sense of the word, tomato soup and grilled cheese takes me back ... well, to college, when I started to actually like tomato soup. Grilled cheese, though? Yes, please. I have fond childhood memories of the gooey little sandwich melting in my mouth. My mom used to make it with mozzarella and the cheese would streeeetch as I pulled the halves apart, fingers glistening with butter. Delicious.

Now, as an adult, I like to make this meal for dinner every once and a while – especially if it's raining or cold out. To make it a little healthier, I have been known to spritz a pan with canola oil instead of using butter, but it's not nearly as good, so I usually splurge and go for the real stuff. Oh, and I'm a cheddar girl – sharp cheddar. There is no other substitute, unless you consider brie or some other fancy cheese. Then I'm in all the way. Make this next time you're stuck in the house on a rainy Sunday, and then curl up for a nap.

Homemade Tomato Basil Soup
Serves 6-8
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 cans diced tomatoes or stewed tomatoes (14.5 oz each)
  • 14 oz. chicken broth (homemade is better!)
  • 6 oz. tomato paste
  • 3/4 c skim milk*
  • 2-3 tbsp sour cream*
  • 1/2 c basil, julienned and divided (sliced into ribbons)
  • Optional: crumbled bacon
  1. Cook onion in a stock pot until translucent.  Add garlic and cook the mixture ~3 minutes longer. Add tomatoes, broth and paste. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low. Simmer 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  2. Stir in dairy; simmer 10 more minutes. Add 1/4 c basil. Remove from heat and blend with an immersion blender until smooth.**
  3. Spoon hot soup into bowls and top with remaining basil and, if desired, crumbled bacon. Serve with grilled cheese (I prefer extra toasted, as shown above) 
*If you don't have skim milk and sour cream, you can use 1 c of whipping cream or half-and-half instead.
**If you don't have an immersion blender, you can whir the soup in a blender until smooth. Just be careful transferring the hot soup to the machine.

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