Burgers and fries, cookies and milk, bacon and eggs…some foods are just meant to be in relationships. While there are many classic food duos in American culture that I love, there is one that I just don’t understand: grilled cheese and tomato soup. Now, as a Japanese person, I have nothing against soup; I grew up eating Miso and still love it. But what makes tomato the soup of choice when the sandwich option is grilled cheese? Wouldn’t chicken noodle or cream of broccoli work just as well?
I was excited when we had lunch at Bar Bouchon in Beverly Hills, and I saw the grilled cheese/tomato soup combo on the menu. While the BLT with the sunny side up egg on top sounded great and would surely lead to lunch satisfaction, I had to do the research on the grilled cheese/tomato soup duo for you, my reader. Not a problem though; how could I go wrong either way, eating at Thomas Keller‘s place in Beverly Hills? So while I sacrificed the guaranteed pleasure of bacon and egg for the sake of research, it was with mixed feelings when the server asked my husband what HE wanted, and his reply was, “The BLT.” At least I would still get to try it!
The problem I have with Grilled cheese and tomato soup is the soup part. I’ve just never cared for tomato soup. I think it’s too tangy having a taste that to me, is somewhere between watered down ketchup and tomato juice. Would the great Thomas Keller be able to change my opinion? Drum roll please…. Unfortunately, no, even with the Thomas Keller stamp, tomato soup was still tomato soup…not for me. In Keller’s defense, it was better than watered down ketchup, but still, no server will ever hear me utter the phrase, “Tomato soup please,” in the future. My American food guide, my husband, tells me that the proper technique is to dip the sandwich into the soup, which is why the sandwich is typically dry. I don’t know if I agree with his logic, but he was right about the sandwich being dry. I did remember the menu stating that the cheese was aged two years, but after my first bite, I was wondering if they aged it inside the very brioche I was holding.Taking my husband’s advice, I dipped the sandwich into the soup. It was better than eating by itself, but still, didn’t make me appreciate the combo. My husband went on to explain that grilled cheese and tomato soup is a nice, warm comfort food for kids on a rainy day. I can see that, but still there’s the issue of the taste. Of course, he has a theory on that too. According to my husband, kids love pizza. Grilled cheese and tomato soup is just another form of that flavor profile. Think about it; melted cheese on flat bread with the taste of tomato sauce all in the same bite. Did that help? Well, no, considering I am not a huge fan of pizza.
So the grilled cheese/tomato soup combo is lost on me. Somehow, I’m sure I’ll find something else to eat and write about.
Aren’t you lucky?