Introduction: Hacked Grilled Cheese & Elevated Tomato Soup
This Instructable is a full meal! It combines two classics: grilled cheese and tomato soup, but I share with you my way to "get-er-done" when you don't have a lot of time, money, or supplies on hand.
I will share with you the fastest way I know to make grilled cheese, and to make a lot of them quick (easy kitchen hack)!
I will also share with you how to make an elevated tomato soup when you don't have supplies or canned tomato soup on hand (but instead using canned tomato products such as tomato puree, tomato paste, crushed tomatoes, or whatever is in your pantry).
FOR THE GRILLED CHEESE:
- Bread (Cheap-O white bread will survive, and not break apart, with my hack!)
- Butter or Margarine
- Cheese (I am vegan, so used Daiya cheddar sliced cheese)
FOR THE TOMATO SOUP:
- Canned tomatoes of any kind (I used Tomato Puree)
- Milk (I used unsweetened, plain soymilk)
- Onion powder
- OPTIONAL: Dried Basil
- OPTIONAL: Olive Oil (for drizzle)
- OPTIONAL: Fresh Basil (for garnish)
- OPTIONAL: Seasoned Croutons (for garnish)
- Microwave-safe bowl
- Skillet / Electric Griddle
Step 1: Melt the Butter
Yes, we are going to melt the butter. Well, soften it enough that when mixed it is liquid-y. But you don't want to heat it up so much that the oils separate fully.
This is the secret to getting a lot of grilled cheese sandwiches made in a hurry, and to get an even spread of butter over the bread every time!
Forget the traditional butter knife. If using cheap white bread, the butter knife has a tendency to break the soft white bread when trying to spread the butter. So you either have to toast the bread before buttering, or deal with holey bread (maybe that could be a thing -- "swiss" bread, instead of swiss cheese?). Plus, butter knives take way longer to butter each piece of bread. Also, when using my approach, the Cheap-O bread now tastes elevated too, as it absorbs the buttery flavor throughout (like a sponge), and it turns perfectly crunchy when grilling.
Therefore, simply put a chunk of butter into a microwaveable-safe bowl, microwave it on high for up to 30 seconds (do less if you have a higher powered microwave, or use 50% power). It will come out slightly melted but with some lumps of butter in it. Mix these lumps into the liquid-y butter with a spoon or whisk.
Your life may forever be changed!
Step 2: Dunk, Wipe, & Grill
Make sure your skillet or griddle is heated to Medium/Medium-High heat (or 325-350 degrees on a griddle).
Take your bread, dunk it quickly into the bowl (as if you were making French toast and this was the egg wash) and pull it out. Re-dunk certain spots you missed if any parts are left undone. Only dunk it in far enough to get a thin coat of butter over the surface of the bread, DO NOT FULLY SUBMERGE THE BREAD!
Gently wipe your finger across the bread. This will pull out the excess butter so the bread doesn't get soggy. Drizzle the excess back into the bowl of melted butter.
Put the bread butter-side DOWN on the hot skillet or griddle. Quickly, dunk, wipe, and put on the skillet/griddle as many bottoms pieces as can fit. Then top them all with sliced cheese. Then dunk, wipe, and put on top (the buttered side facing UP) the second piece of bread.
Grill on both sides until they are golden brown (or the doneness you personally enjoy).
Step 3: Elevating Canned Tomatoes
Simultaneously (while the grilled cheese is cooking), heat a saucepan to Medium heat.
Here's how to elevate each type of canned tomatoes:
- Tomato Puree (what I used): Pour in the tomato puree. Whisk in 1 can full of milk (the can that had the puree in it). Whisk together. Add in seasonings: salt, pepper, onion powder, and optional dried basil (all to taste and depending on the size of your can of puree). That's literally it! Now you're ready to garnish and serve!
- Crushed Tomatoes: You can follow the above instructions (for puree), but it will be a little chunkier of a tomato soup. Or, you can first blend the tomatoes until smooth, and then follow the above instructions.
- Stewed Tomatoes or Whole Canned Tomatoes: Blend the tomatoes until smooth, and then follow the above instructions.
- Italian Seasoned Tomatoes: This will not produce the same flavors as a traditional tomato soup as it has in it Italian seasonings already. Therefore, I would suggest blending them until smooth. Add them to the pot. Taste to see if they are seasoned how you like them (straight from the can). If not, add in Italian seasoning, salt, pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, and dried basil.
- Tomato Paste: Add the paste and 1/2 to 1 can of water to a blender. Blend until smooth. Add this mix to the saucepan. Add in 1-2 cans of milk. Then follow the first instructions.
- Tomatoes for Chili: This, like the Italian seasoned tomatoes, will taste totally different than a traditional tomato soup. This should be blended until smooth, then seasoned to your liking after adding in 1/2 to 1 can of water. You will be adding in ingredients more like for chili (onions, peppers, potatoes) but then alternating the normal chili powder etc (for chili) with salt and dried parsley (to keep it tomato soup). Experiment to see what you like!
Always be sure to taste and add in seasonings you prefer, and blend or add in liquids until you get the consistency you prefer.
Step 4: Garnish
To garnish the tomato soup, here are some ideas I like:
- A drizzle of olive oil on top
- Seasoned croutons
- Fresh basil
- Black Pepper sprinkled on top
What garnishes do you love on your tomato soup!? Share in the comments!
Step 5: Serve
Serve the soup and grilled cheese. I bet no one could tell you used canned tomatoes or hacked grilled cheese! Both taste absolutely wonderful!