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Tomato-Vegetable Soup and Grilled Four-Cheese Soldiers

Tomato-Vegetable Soup and Grilled Four-Cheese Soldiers


For the soup:

  • 2 tablespoons EVOO – Extra Virgin Olive Oil

  • 2 tablespoons butter

  • 1 small bulb fennel, chopped

  • 1 carrot, chopped

  • 1 onion, chopped

  • 2 ribs celery with leafy tops, chopped

  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed

  • Salt and pepper

  • 1 teaspoon sugar or Acacia honey

  • 1 large bay leaf

  • 1 Parm rind

  • 2 cups chicken or vegetable stock

  • 1 28-ounce can San Marzano tomatoes

  • 1 quart (box or jar) passata or purée

  • A few leaves of basil, torn

For the Grilled Four-Cheese:

  • 6 tablespoons softened butter or 1/2 cup Fabainse (aka aquafaba spread) or mayonnaise

  • About 1 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

  • 1 clove garlic, pasted or finely grated

  • About 2 tablespoons flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped

  • 8 slices good quality white bread

  • 8 slices mild provolone cheese

  • 8 slices white American cheese, such as Cooper’s Sharp American

  • 8 slices deli mozzarella or mild Fontina


In a soup pot over medium to medium-high heat, melt butter into EVOO, 2 turns of the pan. Add fennel, carrot, onions, celery and garlic, and season with salt, pepper, sugar or honey, bay and Parm rind. Cover to sweat 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, then add stock and raise heat. Reduce by half, 2-3 minutes, then add tomatoes, passata and basil. Simmer 30 minutes over medium-low heat, remove bay leaf and purée with immersion blender. Adjust salt and pepper to taste.

For the sandwiches, heat a nonstick pan or griddle over medium heat. Combine butter, Fabainse or mayo with cheese, garlic and parsley. Lightly coat one side of each of the slices of bread and, with spread-covered sides facing out, build sandwiches with a slice each of provolone, American and mozzarella or Fontina. Grill the cheese sandwiches until deeply golden and melty. Cut each sandwich into 3 sticks or ‘soldiers”.

Serve crocks or bowls of tomato soup with soldiers alongside for dipping.