I LOVE French onion soup. The broth is amazing, but what really knocks my socks off is the Gruyère and crusty bread broiled on top. I am sort of in shock that the idea has been not used more for other dishes. I decided it was time to enjoy my cheese-covered, soup-soaked fresh bread with something else. This is a lovely twist on a common household meal.
This is how I came up with the idea of grilled cheese soup. As if this was not challenging enough, last week someone asked me if I was going to offer any vegetarian recipes. I am a 100% meat loving, milk chugging, egg frying kind of gal. I mean, bacon is one of my favorite foods. I was hesitant, however, I wanted to show my (brief) support for those who follow this healthier diet. I also have a difficult time refusing a challenge.
“You won’t stick this marble in your nostril.”
“Oh yeah? Watch me.”
That was last weekend.
Here is what you need:
So I added a bonus recipe that is meat free, gluten-free, and lactose free. The broth without the grilled cheese is totally Vegan too, if you cannot have eggs or any dairy ingredients.
Grilled Cheese Soup
(NLGM: non-lactose, gluten-free, no meat version)
For the Broth:
-1 pound of fresh tomatoes (or if you want it easy, a 14.5 can of whole tomatoes)
-1 large onion, or two small onions (NLGM add another small onion or ½ large onion)
-1 stalk of celery
1 clove of garlic
-fresh basil (optional)
-a couple of sprigs of fresh thyme
-1 bay leaf
-1 teaspoon of kosher salt
-freshly ground black pepper
-1 piece of bacon (optional, and NLGM omit)
-1 tablespoon of unsalted butter (NLGM use 1 1/2 tablespoons of Earth Balance Spread)
-½ cup of cream (NLGM use Soy Milk.. If you are vegetarian for moral reasons do not buy Silk, it is owned by a regular milk supplier so use another soy milk product)
-3 tablespoons of flour (NLGM use ½ of a packet of silken tofu)
– 2 cups of chicken broth (NLGM use vegetable broth)
If you plan on using a can of tomatoes ignore the first few steps. If you like using fresh tomatoes, then start by boiling a pot of water.
For Grilled Cheese:
-fresh, thick bread (NLGM use Udi’s, V do not use Udi’s because it has egg white. There are a variety of bread’s without dairy and egg, please check the labels at your supermarket)
-panko or bread crumbs (NLGM omit)
-1-2 eggs (NLGM use olive oil)
-dry basil, garlic powder, pepper, sea salt, dry oregano (or whatever you like to use)
-Brie, Gruyère, or whatever good quality cheese you like that melts well (NLGM and V, there are soy cheeses available click here to choose based on your diet)
If you plan on using canned tomatoes, ignore this step. If you prefer a fresher option start with fresh, ripe tomatoes.
Turn them over and cut an X on the bottom.
Using a slotted spoon, place tomatoes into a pot of boiling water for about 10 seconds.
The boiling will help the skin come off easily. Careful not to overcook them.
Mine were maybe left in a tad too long, because I was distracted with taking photographs. Darn blog.
Use slotted spoon again to transfer tomatoes into a bowl of ice water. This stops the tomatoes from cooking more than they need to.
Peel off the skin.
Cut tomatoes into smaller pieces, and process in a food processor until somewhat smooth.
Chuck Norris wouldn’t use a food processor. He would use his bare hands.
NLGM and vegans add your special soy or vegetable spread.
Add bacon. NLGM and vegans omit this part.
Once bacon is crispy, remove and drain on paper towel. EVERYONE add your onions, garlic, and celery to the butter/veggie/soy spread.
Once the veggies are soft and cooked, stir in flour. (NLGM and, if necessary, vegans can skip this step)
NLGM (and if vegan also does not want flour products in soup) add in you tomato, and silken tofu.
Stir quickly with spatula to break up tofu.
Meat lovers add in your tomatoes.
Everyone add your broth. While soup is cooking tie your fresh herbs together.
Bring soup to a boil. Stir in fresh herbs. Lower heat and let soup cook for about 45 minutes.
Now the soup needs to be pureed. If you are lucky, then you can use an immersion blender. With all of the cooking I do, you would think I had one. I have to settle for a blender. It works just fine, but requires transferring soup into blender and then back into pot again.
Meat lovers only, add crisped bacon to blender and chop down into fine grains.
EVERYONE add you broth and blend.
Make sure you removed the fresh herbs bundled together with a string first! Do not blend those. Ewe.
Return soup to pot using a strainer to keep out all of the tomato seeds.
I suggest pouring a little at a time, because you might have to dump out the seeds here and there.
Taste soup to see if you would like more seasoning or not. Put heat at lowest setting to stay warm while preparing the grilled cheese.
Now grab your bread.
For the anything eater, I used French Boule bread. It was circular, and therefore perfect for fitting on top of my soup bowl.
Pour panko/bread crumbs, dried basil, pepper, salt, dried oregano, and garlic powder into a deep dish.
Whisk a bowl of egg, with milk, and pepper. If you like you can just use the egg.
Take a slice of bread, put cheese on top.
Dip bottom in egg, then panko crumbs.
Do the same with top slice. Make several sandwiches, and place on a baking sheet lined with foil.
Set oven on “low” broiler. Toast for about 10 minutes, then press sandwich bread down to mush cheese.
Turn over and broil other side for about 10 minutes.
Obviously, you will not be using egg or panko crumbs.
Make your sandwiches, then drizzle each side with olive oil.
Then sprinkle the dried herbs, salt and pepper.
Broil for about 5 minutes, on each side.
Now to assemble your soup. cut up one sandwich into tiny bite-sized pieces. Place in bottom of an oven safe bowl.
Place a sandwich on top of the soup. If you do not want a messy meal, I urge you to pour less soup in than you see here.
I wanted more soup, so I just simply placed the bowl on top of a plate to catch splatter.
Add your cheese on top. I used Gruyère. If it aint broke don’t fix it!
My special diet friends do the same, just top with your own “cheese.” Keep in mind that since those cheeses are not real dairy product, it will melt a little differently.
Everyone: Broil soup on high until cheese is melted. Gruyere should be brown and bubbling.
The perfect lactose-free, gluten-free, and vegetarian grilled cheese soup (with option for vegan)!
So healthy, and still soooooo delicious.
Who know’s, maybe there is some room for soy in my eating future?
Let’s not forget the original.
I cannot describe to you in words how INCREDIBLE this is. You will never look at a grilled cheese sandwiches the same!