If you’re blessed to live somewhere that is warm and sunny year-round, I envy you. For the rest of us who deal with bitterly cold weather and snow this time of year, the only things keeping me and Mr E sane are Netflix, playoff football, and belly-warming foods. And this time of year, there’s nothing we look forward to more on a cold weather day than one of the best food combos created: Grilled Cheese and Tomato Soup.
I grew up in ignorance. When my mom made us soup and sandwich combos, it was grilled cheese and chicken soup. The chicken soup was homemade by my mom and tasted delicious. Then I went to college. And one of my sorority sisters would print out our commons cafeteria menu every month and circle Grilled Cheese and Tomato Soup Day. She gave us a week’s notice so we could plan to go to lunch together. She would write it that day on our dorm room door’s white board. (Side Note – do college kids still do that???) It was the ONLY day of the month I ever ate lunch in our cafeteria. My world was forever changed.
When one thinks of the term “Comfort Foods,” images of bacon, cheese, French fries, butter, and ice cream may come to mind. But comfort foods really are anything that make you feel warm and fuzzy. That means proteins, veggies, whole grains, and beans simmering in a slow cooker can count as a comfort food as well. But let’s face it – sometimes you just want that indulgence.
The Perfect Grilled Cheese
While I tend to be the main chef in the house, Mr E tends to be the grilled cheese master. When it comes to what makes the perfect Grilled Cheese, I went straight to the source:
“Okay, so first you have to get the heat right. If it’s too hot you burn your bread. If it’s not hot enough, you can end up with a soggy inside of your grilled cheese sandwich. Butter, none of this olive oil nonsense, use BUTTER to coat the whole side of the bread. I find 3-4 minutes per side is right where you want to be. BOOM! CRUNCHY! When it comes to cheese, cheddar’s great. Some others are muenster or a jack cheese, pepper jack. Use 3-4 slices of cheese. If it’s cut pretty thin, then you can add more. That’s basically the secret of the Grilled Cheese.” – Mr E
(For more Taco-isms, make sure to tune into the Nutrition Nuptials Podcast to hear more nuggets of wisdom like this)
While traditionally we think of grilled cheese as just being American cheese on bread, there’s more combos beyond adding tomato and/or bacon to create a truly epic sandwich. First, I like to start with a high fiber bread that gets nice and crunchy as it gets grilled. These are some ways I like to step up my grilled cheese game on a cold, chilly day:
- Cheddar Cheese with arugula and caramelized onion jam
- Mozzarella with tomato and pesto spread
- Super Cheesy 4 Cheese Grilled Cheese with cheddar, jack, swiss, and muenster
- Cheddar, Avocado, and Kimchi
For even more ways to enjoy the satisfaction of that grilled cheese sandwich, I asked my dietitian colleagues to share their best combos:
Dietitian Grilled Cheese Creations!
Avocado Onion Grilled Cheese – Kim Melton, RDN of Nutrition Pro Consulting
Cran Apple Grilled Cheese – Jenna Gorham, RD, LN of Jenna Gorham Nutrition
Grilled Cheese & Tomato Soup Sandwich– Emily Cooper RDN of Sinful Nutrition
Pimento Cheese Grilled Cheese– Meme Inge, MS, RDN of Living Well Kitchen
Tomato Soup Tales
On the tomato soup front, I’m not going to lie – I tend to cheat and go for the canned option. As a Jersey Girl, there’s nothing more iconic that we grew up on like Campbell’s Soup. So when I choose to treat ourselves to an ooey, gooey grilled cheese combo, good ol’ Campbell’s tomato soup gets called for the date. I prefer traditional tomato, while every now and then Mr E will go for the “creamy option” of adding milk instead of water. I did recently make my own homemade tomato soup, and while it was super easy, sometimes there’s just something satisfying about opening that can and knowing soup will be ready in a few minutes.
If you prefer to DIY with your tomato soup vs opening that can, here’s some dietitian soup creations that will have you wishing for a more chilly days to enjoy these soups!
Dietitian-Created Tomato Soups
Classic Tomato Soup (Vegan) – Sharon Palmer, RDN, The Plant-Powered Dietitian
“Creamy” Tomato Soup – Jill Weisenberger, MS, RDN, CDE, CHWC, FAND,author of Diabetes Weight Loss-Week by Week
Creamy Tomato Soup – Julie Harrington, RDN of RDelicious Kitchen
Creamy Tomato Basil Soup-Andrea Mathis, MA, RD, LD
Creamy Tomato Bean Soup – Jessica Penner, RD of Smart Nutrition
Healthy Cream of Tomato Soup – E.A. Stewart, Spicy RD Nutirtion
Spicy Tomato Basil Ricotta Soup – Vicki Shanta Retelny, RDN, The Lifestyle Nutritionist