A marriage made in heaven-grilled cheese and tomato soup. All of us have opened a can of prepared tomato soup, but have you ever made it from scratch? I will admit, I never have in the past. This year I am trying not to serve or buy processed foods whenever possible. Could homemade tomato soup be just as good, worth the extra effort, and just as easy to create as opening that can? I was on a mission to find out!
I started by using San Marzano tomatoes canned at their peak of freshness. Honestly, this is a case where fresh from the garden is not the best. These Italian tomatoes have amazing bold flavor, a great addition to the dish and well worth the extra price. To make this soup rich and creamy, I added Challenge Cream Cheese which gave me the velvety texture and the perfect touch of tang. Just a few pulses in the blender and a short time on the stove, and I had the most amazing tomato soup.
Now for the perfect grilled cheese. I accomplished this by broiling my sandwiches and covering them in parmesan cheese for a crunchy exterior. The filling, and the secret to these delicious sandwiches, is the blend of cheeses featuring Challenge Salsa Cream Cheese for an unexpected pop of flavor to complement the tomato soup. I then cut the sandwiches into strips to encourage dipping. (Yes, dipping is allowed.)
Mission accomplished. Next time instead of opening up that can of processed soup, cozy up to a warm bowl of rich and creamy homemade soup and the perfect grilled cheese. Comfort food made quick and easy.
Creamy Tomato Soup with Fresh Basil
- 2 28 ounce cans of San Marzano tomatoes
- ¼ cup Challenge Butter
- 1 cup diced onion (about one medium size onion)
- 1 cup fresh rough chopped basil, plus ⅛ cup of diced basil for garnish
- 1-2 crushed cloves of garlic
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 2 Tablespoons brown sugar
- 1 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
- 2 8 ounce packages Challenge Cream Cheese, softened
- 1 cup half and half or milk
Toasted Cheese Dippers
- 12 slices good quality bread-I used bakery fresh sourdough
- 6 Tablespoons Challenge Spreadable Butter with Canola Oil
- 2 cups shredded Parmesan cheese
- 8 ounce tubChallenge Salsa Flavored Cream Cheese Spread or unflavored original variety, softened
- 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
- 1 cup shredded pepper jack cheese, or your favorite variety
Preheat oven to broil. Cover a baking sheet with foil.
To begin the Creamy Tomato Soup, place one can of tomatoes into a blender and pulse to puree. Pour tomatoes into a medium size pot.
In a medium skillet over medium high heat, add butter and diced onion. Cook until golden brown and soft, about 4 minutes. Place cooked onions into blender along with basil, garlic, olive oil, brown sugar, balsamic vinegar and salt. Pulse until well blended. Add the remaining can of tomatoes and puree until smooth. Add tomato mixture to pot with pureed tomatoes. Stir all ingredients together, then place pot over medium high heat and bring to a low boil. Add cream cheese and stir or whisk until melted. Stir in ½ and half and remove from heat.
To create your Toasted Cheese Dippers, begin by combining Challenge Salsa Cream Cheese with shredded cheddar and pepper jack cheese in a medium bowl.
Cover one side of bread with Challenge Spreadable Butter. Dip buttered side of bread into shredded parmesan cheese. Spread cream cheese mixture on the unbuttered side of bread, top with second piece. Continuing with the remaining pieces of bread until you have created six sandwiches. Arrange the sandwiches on the prepared baking sheet. Place into oven and broil until cheese is golden brown, about 2-3 minutes. Flip sandwiches over and broil the other side. Remove from oven and let cool for a few minutes. Cut each sandwich into four strips.
To serve, pour soup into serving bowls. Garnish with diced fresh basil. Serve with dippers for the perfect lunch or dinner!