Tomato Basil Soup with Pesto Grilled Cheese Sandwiches
We’ve taken everyone’s favorite cold-weather combo and given it an Italian accent—and we think you’ll never go back to regular tomato soup and grilled cheese after having it this way.
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp unsalted butter
1 large white onion, finely chopped
1 tbsp Armanino Creamy Garlic Sauce
2 tbsp all-purpose flour
3 cups chicken or vegetable stock, low sodium
28 oz whole peeled plum tomatoes (1 can including juice)
½ tsp kosher salt
¼ tsp ground black pepper
3 tbsp Armanino Pesto Sauce, plus more for garnish
Pesto Grilled Cheese Sandwiches
8 slices sourdough bread
4 tbsp unsalted butter, softened
4 tbsp Armanino Pesto Sauce
8 slices provolone cheese
4 slices mozzarella cheese
8 tomato slices
Break up the tomatoes by emptying the can into a large bowl and breaking up with your hands or give a quick whirl in the blender.
In a nonreactive 5-6-quart saucepan or Dutch oven, heat the oil and butter over medium-low until the butter melts.
Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft but not browned, about 8 minutes.
Stir in the garlic sauce then add the flour and stir to combine.
Add the chicken or vegetable stock, tomatoes, salt and pepper.
Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat.
Reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for 30 minutes. Stir occasionally to prevent scorching.
Remove from the heat, let cool briefly then purée in two or three batches in a blender, food processor or with a hand blender. Return the soup to the pot. (Note: if using a blender, puree in small batches and remove the center piece from the lid to allow steam to escape – cover with a dish or paper towel to contain any spatters).
Stir in the pesto. Taste and adjust seasonings and rewarm if needed.
Serve warm, garnished with an additional swirl of pesto. Soup can be made up to 3 days ahead and refrigerated or frozen up to 2 months. Gently reheat over low.
Pesto Grilled Cheese Sandwiches
Spread one side of each slice of bread with softened butter, about 1-1½ teaspoons each.
Flip and spread the unbuttered sides with pesto, about 1-1½ teaspoons each.
Top four of the pesto bread slices with two pieces of provolone, two tomato slices and a piece of mozzarella. Cut the cheeses in half if needed to best fit.
Place the remaining bread slices, pesto side down, on top.
Heat a skillet over medium high heat until hot then reduce to medium-low. Place the sandwiches in the pan, buttered side down, and gently cook for 3-4 minutes until the bread is golden brown.
With a spatula, carefully flip the sandwiches and cook until the other side is golden brown and the cheese is melted. If needed, place in a 300°F oven to keep warm while cooking the remaining sandwiches.
Place the sandwiches on a cutting board, let sit a minute to let the cheese set a little, then cut in half and serve warm with the tomato pesto soup. Sandwiches can be assembled, tightly wrapped and refrigerated up to 1 day ahead. Unwrap and cook directly from the refrigerator.
The soup is best made with peeled whole tomatoes. A puree is too thick and canned diced tomatoes are treated to hold their shape and never really break down during cooking. Regular whole peeled tomatoes are fine or try San Marzano, fire roasted or your own home canned tomatoes.
The trick to a perfectly browned and melted grilled cheese sandwich is to cook low and slow. If it is perfectly browned but the cheese needs a little more time to melt, pop it into a 300°F oven for 5-10 minutes. This is a great trick too for keeping everything warm while making sandwiches for a crowd.
For a gluten free version of the soup, use white rice flour in place of the all-purpose.
Think about other additions to your sandwich – crispy bacon or slices of prosciutto perhaps.