I think I’ve established that I am a huge fan of soup. LOVE IT. Cannot get enough of it. I mean, I’m that weirdo that eats soup in the dead of summer. Obsessed.
Tomato soup with grilled cheese has always been a classic that I’ve adored. Growing up, my mom would often serve my sisters and me the condensed tomato soup from a can along with grilled cheese sandwiches stuffed with good ol’ processed American cheese singles. I have a fondness for the stuff. Please don’t judge.
I would usually end up dunking my grilled cheese sammie in the tomato soup tinged with the taste of tin and enough salt for a week. I’m a fan of dunking in general. Sandwiches in soup, biscotti in espresso, cookies in milk, and even french fries in chocolate milkshakes. Yes. FRIES IN A MILKSHAKE. Don’t knock it ’til you try it.
Anyway, back to the soup…
Since then, my tastes have evolved in some ways and stayed exactly the same in others. I still love mac and cheese from a box, and I have been known to eat canned soup on the regular. There’s nothing wrong with a little convenience here and there. Nothing, however, beats the taste and comfort of homemade soup. It’s the best.
And let’s not forget that American cheese. It’s still a guilty pleasure for me when it comes to grilled cheese sammies. I’ll always love the melty, gooey mess it creates. Yum.
The more “evolved” me reaches for fontina instead. It is definitely one of my fav cheeses. It’s super rich and creamy, and melts like a dream. It’s perfect for grilled cheese sammies (I have an INSANE recipe for that coming soon) or just as a quick and easy toast topper. Which is exactly what I did for this soup.
The soup itself is creamy, salty, and definitely tomato-y…but it’s “elevated” with a touch of sherry (OK, a CUP of sherry) and a pinch of heat in the way of red pepper flakes. I love the taste of sherry, so I add half of it at the end of cooking so that it doesn’t all cook out. You do NOT have to do this, especially if you are feeding children. It’s an added touch that I love but is totally optional.
So, while this dish evokes the memories of childhood for me, it also symbolizes my culinary growth since then (that sounds pretentious, doesn’t it?). It tastes like the original…but better. I promise. It’s perfect for a cold, rainy day…or, if you’re me, a hot, sweaty day in July. Hah.
Tomato soup and grilled cheese fo’ life.
Sherried Tomato Bisque with Fontina Toasts (makes 8 servings)
For the Soup:
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons butter
1 large onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning (or a mix of herbs of your choosing)
Pinch of red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons sugar (or to taste)
1 cup dry sherry, divided
1 (28-oz) can pureed tomatoes
1 (28-oz) can diced tomatoes
4 cups low-sodium tomato juice
1 cup low-sodium chicken stock
1 cup heavy cream
Salt and pepper, to taste
For the Cheese Toasts:
1 halved garlic clove
1 loaf crusty multigrain bread, sliced
8 oz fontina cheese, sliced
1. Sauté the diced onions in olive oil and butter over medium heat until soft and translucent. Add the garlic, red pepper flakes, and dried herbs and sauté for another 1-2 minutes. Stir in the sugar and allow to cook for a few minutes. Add in half of the sherry to deglaze the pan and cook until the sherry has reduced.
2. Add the diced tomatoes, tomato puree, tomato juice, chicken stock, and stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper.3. Bring to a simmer and cook for 25-30 minutes. Turn off heat and puree using an immersion blender or (in batches) in a regular blender.4. Stir in the remaining sherry and the cream. Reheat to desired temperature and check for seasonings.5. For the Cheese Toasts: Preheat the oven to 350°F and line a baking sheet with tin foil or parchment. Slice the bread and drizzle with olive oil. Place on the baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes, or until starting to turn golden brown around the edges. Remove from heat and carefully rub the halved garlic all over the hot bread. Top each piece with a slice of fontina and return to the oven until the cheese is melted.6. Serve the soup with the cheese toasts! You can serve them on the side, or if you’re a dunker like me, you can float them in the soup or submerge them as you go. Delish either way!