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Classic Comfort Food For Fall

When fall comes around and it gets a little cold and blustery, tomato soup and a grilled cheese sandwich are hard to beat.

The Early Show's resident chef, Bobby Flay, loves comfort food, and offered his versions of the classic combination on the show Thursday.

Some methods for making a grilled cheese sandwich call for buttering the outside of the bread first, while others melt the butter in the pan. Another variation calls for spreading the outside of the bread with mayonnaise instead of butter.

Traditionally, cheddar is used, although in the United States a processed cheese known as American cheese is also quite popular. In the Netherlands, Gouda cheese is used most often, and ham is added to it. Other kinds of cheese can be used, such as Swiss cheese, but these are mostly regional variant.

Meat or pickles and/or mustard added to the grilled cheese are other variations. Sometimes, fresh sliced tomato is added. There are also some who prefer a triple-decker grilled cheese sandwich, where the middle slice is put in a toaster before adding cheese and two other slices of bread, and cooking it like a normal grilled cheese sandwich. Another popular American variation is the "tuna melt," made by adding tuna (often canned) or tuna salad to the traditional grilled cheese sandwich.

The assembled sandwich is then placed on a griddle, pan or dedicated sandwich maker to be heated. Once the bread on the bottom half of the sandwich has reached a toast-like texture, the sandwich is flipped, and continues cooking until the other side has toasted or the cheese has melted.

BOBBY'S RECIPES: Tomato Soup & Grilled Cheese

Fried Tortillas

Canola oil or peanut oil
2 flour tortillas, cut into long, thin strips
2 blue corn tortillas, cut into long, thin strips

1. Heat 1-inch of oil in a high sided medium sauté pan over medium high heat until it reaches a temperature of 350 degrees.
2. Add the tortilla strips in batches and fry until just crisp, 20-30 seconds.
3. Remove with a slotted spoon to a plate lined with paper towels and season immediately with salt.

Tomato-Tortilla Soup
Serves: 4

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium red onion, coarsely chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 cup dry white wine
8 overly ripe beef steak tomatoes, seeded and coarsely chopped
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Chopped cilantro
Diced avocado
Grated White Cheddar Cheese
Fried Tortillas

1. Heat oil in a medium sauce pan over high heat.
2. Add onions and cook until soft, add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds.
3. Add the wine and cook until reduced by half. Add the tomatoes and enough water to cover the tomatoes by 1-inch.
4. Bring to a boil, lower heat to medium and simmer until tomatoes are very soft and start to break down, approximately 30 minutes.
5. Carefully transfer the mixture to a food processor and process (in batches if needed) until smooth.
6. Return to the saucepan, season with cayenne, salt and pepper and cook for 5 minutes.
7. Ladle into bowls and garnish with cheese, cilantro and a few fried tortillas.

Monte Cristo Sandwiches
Serves: 4

8 slices good quality white bread, crusts removed
2 tablespoons whole grain mustard
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons prepared mayonnaise
8 slices thinly sliced, ham or turkey or chicken
8 slices thinly sliced, Swiss or cheddar or mozzarella or fontina
3 large eggs
1/4 cup whole milk
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons canola oil

1. Place the bread on a flat surface. Whisk together the mustards and mayonnaise in a small bowl and spread a teaspoon of the mixture on each slice of bread.
2. Top each slice of bread with a slice of cheese and a slice of meat (in that order) and combine the slices to make 4 sandwiches. Wrap the sandwiches in plastic wrap and place on a baking sheet.
3. Place another baking sheet on top of the sandwiches and place something heavy on top to weigh it down (such as a few cans of vegetables or a heavy skillet) and place in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes. This will help compress the sandwiches
4. Whisk together the eggs and milk in a shallow baking dish and season with salt and pepper. Dip each sandwich in the mixture and turn to coat each side.
5. Heat 1 tablespoon of butter and 1 tablespoon of oil in a large nonstick pan over high heat until it begins to sizzle. Place two sandwiches in the pan at a time and cook until golden brown on both sides and the cheese has melted.
6. Repeat with the remaining butter, oil and sandwiches. Serve immediately or keep warm on a baking sheet in the oven.

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