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Smoky tomato soup + grilled cheese

Silky-smooth homemade tomato soup with a smoky twist. Paired with an ooey-gooey grilled cheese made just like they do at the diner!

A hearty bowl of homemade tomato soup made with smoky bacon.

Hello friends! I’m sure you’re all familiar with the popular culinary equation anything + BACON = better. Well I tested the theory on tomato soup and let me tell you, it was better.

It’s like a smoky, grown up version of the Campbell’s soup your mom would warm up for you you after coming inside from playing in the snow, or just having your face shoved into piles of it (I’m looking at you, Stephen). The smoky bacon really adds a nice depth of flavor. It introduces something new, yet complementary to the classic dish.

Aside from the bacon, this soup is fairly healthy with the majority of ingredients being tomatoes and chicken broth. Just be sure not to add too much salt as the bacon and broth are usually pretty salty to begin with.

A hearty bowl of homemade tomato soup next to a melty grilled cheese sandwich.

Once you puree the soup, you’ll find it’s actually pretty silky without adding cream—I double blend it to make it extra smooth. But if you like a creamier soup, pour up. Put as much cream in as you want. I don’t get too crazy with it because I find it starts to mask the rich tomatoey flavor, so I only add a couple splashes.

Can we talk about the grilled cheese yet?? I mean, come on.

Toasty grilled cheese sandwich made with melty American cheese.

I’ve been making grilled cheese sandwiches for about 20 years, now. When I was a kid, I used to whip them up for my brother and his friends while they shot hoops in our driveway. They always liked that I put extra cheese in. I think it’s mandatory being from Wisconsin, honestly. But now I know all the tricks to making them even tastier!

Here we go.

First, the bread. Thick-cut sourdough. Nothing too soft, you want it to be able to hold up on the griddle. Next, the cheese. American slices. Kraft Singles are fine, that’s what I used. We’re going for optimal meltability, not necessarily the best quality, here. Capisce? But if you can get it sliced at a deli, do so. And last, the fat. Slather your bread with mayo instead of butter before you slap it on the grill. That’s what the old school diners do to get that perfectly golden, crispy crust. And I promise, mayo-haters will not know the difference!

We may have added a little bacon fat to the pan at some point. Definitely not a necessity, but you know what they say..

anything + BACON = better




A hearty bowl of homemade tomato soup made with smoky bacon.


For the soup

  • 3 slices bacon
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 1/2 yellow onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
  • 1 1/2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 tbsp flour
  • 4 cups low-sodium chicken broth (plus extra to thin, if needed)
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 28 oz can peeled whole tomatoes (San Marzano)
  • heavy cream (optional)

For the grilled cheese

  • thick-cut sourdough bread
  • American cheese slices (3-4 per sandwich)
  • mayonaise (or butter)


For the soup

Cut bacon into small pieces and fry in a soup pot over med-low heat until crispy. Add garlic, onion, and carrots to the pan and sauté for 5-10 minutes until tender.

Pour can of tomatoes into a bowl and crush them with your hands. Set aside.

Add tomato paste to the pot and stir for a few minutes until it starts to brown and caramelize. Add flour and stir for another minute. Stir in crushed tomatoes, broth, thyme, and bay leaf and simmer for 30 minutes.

Puree soup in batches in a food processor or high-speed blender. I blended it once in a food processor and then finished in the blender to get it extra smooth. Return to soup pot and add cream if desired.

For the grilled cheese

Heat a flat top griddle pan (or regular frying pan) over medium heat. You can use a little bacon fat to grease the pan. Or not, your call.

Get two slices of bread and cover each one with 1-2 slices of cheese depending on how large your bread is. Make sure the cheese is covering the bread edge to edge. Put both slices together to make a sandwich with the cheese sides touching in the middle.

Slather one side of the sandwich with mayo and lay it in the pan. Slather the other side with mayo and flip once golden brown. Finish cooking on the other side til both sides are golden and crispy and the cheese is fully melted.


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