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The Best Soup Pairings For Grilled Cheese (Besides Tomato Soup)

grilled cheese on cutting board
grilled cheese on cutting board - New Africa/Shutterstock

As much as we love a good gourmet meal packed with fresh ingredients, sometimes a grilled cheese cooked with love is what the soul really needs. Grilled cheese is a faithful fallback meal and a childhood favorite for many, and there's arguably nothing that pairs better than a cup of tomato soup. Is that truly where the journey of the grilled cheese ends, though? This cheesy sandwich makes a good partner to a whole slew of other soups.

Bisques, creams, chowders — they're all distinctly different but are connected by one simple truth. When eaten with a golden grilled cheese, they turn into a filling and delectable meal. The basic nature of the grilled cheese means that it can pair with simple soups, more complex concoctions, and a whole range of flavors.

Anthony Bourdain once said, "Good food is very often, even most often, simple food" (via Goodreads). You don't have to look farther than a grilled cheese to see what he's talking about. While it's good on its own, to unlock all of its deliciousness, try this iconic sandwich with one of these alternatives to the tried and true tomato soup.

Read more: 41 Must Try Hot Sandwich Recipes

Lobster Bisque

lobster bisque with design art
lobster bisque with design art - Ezumeimages/Getty Images

Tomato soup is a good match for grilled cheese, so we're keeping it creamy with this alternative pairing. Lobster bisque has a cream base that is frequently made with tomato paste, which practically begs for a cheesy sandwich sister. The addition of seafood adds a new, interesting element to what would otherwise be a very similar flavor to the OG tomato soup and sandwich marriage.

Grilled cheese and soup is traditionally an affordable meal to make, even earning itself a place among the ranks of go-to struggle meals. If you don't want to splurge on lobster, bisque can be made with monkfish or crawfish too. The taste and texture will be similar enough to the original recipe while bringing the price of the dish down. While the lobster is worth it if you can spare the cash, you don't have to sacrifice too much by keeping within a budget here. Spices can go a long way in this regard too — a crawfish bisque sprinkled with Old Bay seasoning is a punch of flavor every bite.

Broccoli And Cheddar

Broccoli and Cheddar bread bowl
Broccoli and Cheddar bread bowl - Brent Hofacker/Shutterstock

Foodies with a fondness for cheese can double up by dipping their grilled cheese in broccoli and cheddar soup. The cream-based soup has a nice texture that stands well against the crispness of a pressed and buttered cheese sandwich. It may be a cheesy, dairy overload, but at least a serving of veggies gets checked off too.

The great thing about this pairing, other than its creaminess and rich flavor, is that both dishes can be easily customized to complement each other. By experimenting with different cheeses, the flavor profiles will change drastically. Whether you incorporate the same cheese in both the sandwich and soup or go for two distinct cheeses, the result will impress.

As fantastic as homemade grilled cheese and soup is, sometimes getting takeout after a long day is the way to go. Broccoli and cheddar soup is one of the best things on the Panera Bread menu, right alongside the chain's crispy grilled cheese. If you're really hungry, opt for the bread bowl and double your dunking power. For the foodies who love to cook, there are many Panera copycat recipes out there, and you can recreate Panera's grilled cheese by cooking shredded cheese on the outside to create a crispy crust.

New England Clam Chowder

cup of New England clam chower
cup of New England clam chower - Foodio/Shutterstock

Another popular soup that makes a fine partner to grilled cheese is New England clam chowder. The rich and creamy chowder makes for a cozy winter meal. For some, this chowder and a grilled cheese has become something of a beautiful tradition. Reddit user @Sprinkle_Puff recalled that a simple grilled cheese with a bowl of clam chowder was their family's annual Christmas Eve dinner. A simple meal can become the foundation of great memories, especially if it's as delicious as this soup and sandwich pair.

Bacon is the perfect add-on for this sandwich and soup team-up. Sprinkling crumbled bacon over the clam chowder adds a salty twang to the rich soup. Alternatively, you can add bacon right on your sandwich by sneaking a few strips in between the layers of cheese. Another option is to upgrade your grilled cheese with lobster. The masterpiece of a sandwich sits pretty next to the clam chowder — the harmonious meal becomes a tasty ode to New England seafood.

Butternut Squash

woman holding butternut squash soup
woman holding butternut squash soup - Elena Eryomenko/Shutterstock

Grilled cheese and soup is a nice autumnal pairing, especially when you incorporate late-summer harvest vegetables. With a texture that's reminiscent of a creamy tomato soup and a sweet and nutty taste, butternut squash makes a great addition to a grilled cheese meal. The sweet and savory flavors complement each other, and butternut squash's sweetness comes with a slew of benefits. The veggie is considered a superfood and is high in antioxidants and vitamins. It's great for digestion and your immune system and helps add some nutritional value to your meal of bread and cheese.

If you've ever grown squash, you know that it is so abundant you likely will have a hard time finding ways to use it. Pureeing it and making it into a soup is a great way to live off the land while creating a nutritious meal that goes a long way. To pair this soup with grilled cheese when the squash is out of season, freeze some of that butternut squash puree so you can create a fresh batch of soup at your leisure.

Gazpacho

two cups of gazpacho
two cups of gazpacho - Luchezar/Getty Images

Gazpacho is much more than just a chilled tomato soup, so this choice is totally not considered cheating here. The cold soup is one of the most refreshing things you can eat in the summer, and it's a great choice for canceling out the heat of a grilled sandwich on a hot day. To ensure the very best flavors and for a soup that practically embodies the feeling of summer, use fresh-from-the-garden ingredients wherever you can.

It may feel wrong to dip your fresh-from-the-pan, melty grilled cheese into a frigid pool of veggies, but don't knock it until you try it. Cook your grilled cheese well done and cut it into strips to create a cheesy bread chip to scoop the soup. While not exactly salsa, gazpacho uses similar ingredients that wake up and refresh your mouth, and your grilled cheese strips act as a kind of makeshift chip. Pro tip: Add a bit of sugar to dispel some of the bitterness, separating your gazpacho even further from salsa.

French Onion

closeup of french onion soup
closeup of french onion soup - zi3000/Shutterstock

Combining the simplicity of a grilled cheese with the rich flavors of a French onion soup is an unexpected choice, but a delicious one. This popular gourmet soup and classic sandwich have quite a bit in common, with cheese and bread being a key feature of both. It's surprising that the two dishes don't get put together more often, but the redundancy of their ingredients may be at play in this regard. We feel this should be embraced rather than avoided, though.

You could eat French onion soup with a grilled cheese on the side like most soup and sandwich pairings. Alternatively, you could create something entirely new by morphing the two into one as a hybrid. French onion soup already practically has half a grilled cheese floating on top, so why not have a circular sandwich completely replace that hunk of gooey bread and cheese topping? You could also merge the two dishes the opposite way by adding fried and stewed onions to the center of a grilled cheese, with the broth on the side for dipping.

Roasted Red Pepper

roasted red pepper soup bowl
roasted red pepper soup bowl - NoirChocolate/Shutterstock

Tomato soup's second cousin, roasted red pepper soup, offers a smooth consistency that a grilled cheese just loves. The mild and smoky pepper flavor complements certain cheeses in a special kind of way. Try pepper jack cheese or smoked gouda in your melt for the ultimate smoky combo.

Roasted red pepper soup has just a few ingredients, with the main one being right in the name. However, its smooth consistency makes the soup perfect for topping it off with a special ingredient or two for added texture and flavor. Adding a crumbly cheese, like cotija or feta, to the top of the soup can contribute a strong flavor while making a direct connection to the grilled cheese pairing.

Those who can't get enough garlic could sprinkle cloves of roasted garlic atop the soup. Or, instead of touching up the roasted red pepper soup, you could instead smear the roasted garlic in between your grilled cheese bread as a spread. Save some red pepper puree to spread on the inside of your grilled cheese as well if you want to create a strong connection between the two complementary dishes.

Cream Of Mushroom

bowl of mushroom soup
bowl of mushroom soup - Luchezar/Getty Images

When you see a can of cream of mushroom soup, your first thought likely doesn't go to a grilled cheese. If you love the taste of mushrooms, though, the two pair fairly well. The creamy, thin consistency of the soup allows for the flavor to soak into the bread and create a new taste in your grilled cheese.

Grilled cheese may typically be finger food, but you could fork and knife it if, instead of dipping your sandwich, you wanted to use the soup as a pour-over topping. Cream of mushroom soup is a vital ingredient in many casseroles, often acting as the base, so the soup has already been tested as a saucy topping. For those traditionalists who would rather eat the pair strictly as a soup and sandwich combo, adding extra fresh mushrooms to the soup helps thicken it up. Of course, you don't have to stick to a vegetarian mushroom soup. Add sausage or chicken to create a creamy mushroom soup that will satisfy bigger appetites.

Chicken Noodle

complex chicken noodle soup
complex chicken noodle soup - Natalia Hanin/Shutterstock

This pairing makes for the ultimate comfort food mashup. Both of the simple and affordable components take us back to childhood, and they just may be the two most nostalgic dishes available. Chicken noodle soup and grilled cheese are the two meals waiting for any kid who stays home sick for school. They also very well could have been the go-to meals you came home to after playing in the snow as a child.

Though this pairing is one of the best primarily due to the happy memories each dish evokes on its own, they do actually complement one another. The salty broth of chicken noodle soup mixes with the buttery grilled cheese crust when dipped. If you're looking for a simple and impactful meal, you've got it with this pairing, but your chicken noodle soup could be a bit more dressed up for a more interesting tasting experience. This could be as simple as adding sriracha to the soup or as time-consuming as brining your chicken before dumping it into the soup. Either way, the result is an elevated chicken noodle soup for your grilled cheese.

Minestrone

pot of minestrone soup
pot of minestrone soup - Rudisill/Getty Images

Minestrone is basically the ultimate vegetarian kitchen sink soup. It can be made with whatever you happen to have on hand in the kitchen. Veggies, beans, pasta — any odds, ends, or extras you have floating around in your fridge or pantry can be thrown in and simmered until everything is soft but has a little give. It may be hard to imagine a soup that is basically thrown together with scraps as delicious, but minestrone certainly is and provides a hearty meal to boot. There's typically multiple servings of veggies, giving you nutrients that may have gone to waste otherwise.

We get it, not everyone wants a starch-on-starch meal, despite how delicious it is. Replace the pasta that is in many minestrone recipes with quinoa for a healthy alternative. This hack may be even better when paired with grilled cheese, as a dunk in the soup will likely cause soaked quinoa to stick to the sandwich for an even more flavorful bite.

Split Pea And Asparagus Soup

asparagus soup in little pot
asparagus soup in little pot - OlgaBombologna/Shutterstock

A grilled cheese sure is fantastic with strong, green veggies. Split pea and asparagus soup provides that creamy texture that goes so well with a crunchy grilled cheese while also packing in a strong, clean flavor. This soup combines the earthy taste of split peas with the fresh flavor of asparagus. Either vegetable could pair well with a grilled cheese, but the hybrid of the two creates buttery and creamy flavors that mesh together beautifully. The green vegetables help break up the starchy heaviness of the sandwich, creating a more balanced meal.

The great thing about pairing such a traditional simple sandwich with an equally simple soup is that you don't have to be afraid to get creative. Making modifications, like adding avocado or turkey, is a great way to upgrade your grilled cheese with this soup. Adding a bit of spice to the soup with hot sauce or red pepper flakes could also make things interesting.

Potato Soup

potato soup with toppings
potato soup with toppings - Bhofack2/Getty Images

A creamy potato soup is perfect for grilled cheese dipping if you like a thicker, chowder-like consistency. The bread of the grilled cheese will hold up to such a soup, not absorbing much and leaving you with a great crunch. Creamy flavors from the soup plus the melted butter and cheese create a rich taste that is made a bit more subtle by the chunks of potato.

The real flavor party starts when you load the soup up with chives, bacon, sour cream, and more cheese. Just like a fully loaded baked potato, potato soup is at its best when it's topped with all the add-ons. Another way to get all the good stuff in your soup is to add your toppings when you're actually making the soup, mixing in the flavors ahead of time. Don't forget to show the lonesome grilled cheese some love, though, as bacon goes well on a grilled cheese too.

Lentil Soup

lentil soup in cast iron
lentil soup in cast iron - Tovfla/Getty Images

Sometimes you need something a little more hearty than tomato soup to kick your hunger to the curb. Lentil soup makes a great side dish to a cheese sandwich, especially if it's made with a stronger cheese like havarti or gruyère.

Lentil soup is incredibly versatile and can pair with a lot of different flavors. This should be taken advantage of when deciding what to garnish the soup with and what ingredients to include. Potent flavors like sour cream and goat cheese can make great toppings. As for inside the soup itself, really anything goes if you're creative enough. Search your pantry for any odd veggies, especially leafy greens, or even meats. Your soup's base can vary as well, depending on whether you want tomato, stock, or cream.

As for your matching grilled cheese, a very simple sandwich will do wonders. Sticking to one or two strong cheeses in the melt will help complement the lentil soup, but feel free to add toppings to your sandwich for a more filling meal.

Read the original article on Mashed