One of my absolute favorite food combinations in the world is grilled cheese and tomato soup. It’s something I’ve enjoyed since I was a little kid and it brings back memories of playing in the snow and coming inside to warm up with some soup! This is my dressed up version using provolone cheese and pancetta. Normally, I like to lather mayonnaise on the bread and toast it but pancetta fat has a hint of smoke and a flavor that’s so complimentary to the provolone and soup (but please do try making grilled cheese with mayo on the bread instead of butter or bacon grease because it makes the best American grilled cheese sandwich, period). Embrace your inner child with this amazing soup and sandwich combination and if you really want to warm up, pair it with some Italian Chardonnay or Pinot Grigio!
For the grilled cheese:
- Sliced Italian bread
- Sliced Provolone cheese
- 1/4 cup pancetta or 1 tablespoon of pancetta fat
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- Kosher salt
For the soup:
- 4 cups tomato juice
- 10-15 leaves of basil
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter
- Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
- 1 lemon for fresh squeezed lemon juice
- Optional: Parmigiano-Reggiano and crispy pancetta for garnish
- To start, make the soup by using a food processor; blitz the tomatoes, tomato juice and basil together until it is pureed.
- Transfer the mixture to a stock pot and warm over medium heat. It should simmer and cook for about 20-30 minutes. Do not boil.
- Add the cream and butter and stir until the butter is melted. Season with kosher salt and black pepper to taste.
- Meanwhile, make the grilled cheese by first cooking the pancetta in a pan until crispy. Note: You really only want the pancetta fat from this so if you have some reserved already, you can just use that. Bacon also works. Pancetta would be an excellent topping on the soup as well!
- Place a tablespoon of the pancetta fat in a pan or on a griddle and place a slice of bread on top of it.
- Layer the bread with as much cheese as you like (3 slices does the job for me).
- Let the bread brown, checking the bottom every so often to make sure it isn’t burning. The cheese should be melting along the sides.
- Butter one side of the second slice of bread and lay it on top of the cheese, butter side up.
- Flip the sandwich over and toast the buttered side, cook until golden brown.
- Serve your soup with optional Parmigiano and pancetta garnish and a side of grilled cheese! Don’t forget to dip your sandwich in the soup, yum!