How Tomato Soup And Grilled Cheese Became An Iconic Pair

There's nothing quite as comforting as a bowl of warm tomato soup accompanied by a toasty grilled cheese sandwich. The combination of ooey-gooey cheese and buttery bread naturally blends with the acidic tones of the tomatoes to create one of the nation's most iconic meals. But how did tomato soup and grilled cheese become such a winning combination?

While no one knows the exact origin of grilled cheese, the sandwich became incredibly popular in the 1920s. This was thanks in part to James L. Kraft creating processed cheese and the invention of the bread slicer by Otto Frederick Rohwedder. Meanwhile, tomato soup had been around since the mid-1800s, featured in cookbooks such as "The Appledore Cook Book" for instance.

To bring tomato soup and grilled cheese together, it would take a world war. Grilled cheese sandwiches were popular among sailors and other military members during World War II. Afterward, government institutions, as well as schools, started packaging the sandwich with tomato soup to give the meal additional nutrition. The vitamin C in tomatoes complemented the energy-inducing sugars and carbs in the grilled cheese sandwiches. Grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soups were here to stay. Since then, several different recipes and variants have popped up. 

Add your own spin to this beloved dish

If you're looking for a way to spruce up this traditional combination, consider adding an assortment of fresh fruit and vegetables to your sandwich. Known as one of the best additions to a grilled cheese, sliced tomato provides a subtle tang that enhances the creaminess of the cheese. Hot pepper rings offer an extra kick while sliced figs and apples provide a touch of sweetness. You could also consider swapping out the butter for mayonnaise when toasting the bread. The fatty content will naturally caramelize over the heat and create a crispy exterior. Mayonnaise also offers a soft but noticeable tangy taste. 

As for tomato soup consider sprinkling a dash or two of oregano and basil. These light spices will go a long way toward bringing out the natural flavors of the dish. Stirring in a spoonful of pesto is also an effective addition, complete with a nutty flavor that offers a pleasant complement. Make your soup more protein-forward by incorporating a couple slices of bacon. Cook separately until crisp and chop up into bits before adding them to the pot. The saltiness of the meat will enhance the sugars in the tomatoes and produce a well-rounded flavor. However you eat your tomato soup and grilled cheese, there's no denying how well both go together.