Sunday, January 30, 2011

Tomato Soup with Pancetta (& a Grilled Cheese): Comfort Food for Souper (Soup, Salad & Sammie) Sundays

After partaking of Melt, (a fairly new food truck here in Hawaii that offers variations of grilled cheese sandwiches and a daily soup for dipping) a few weeks ago, I have had grilled cheese and tomato soup on the brain ever since.

Bacon Melt & Tomato Soup (with pickled veggies) from Melt

Enter the fact that it is Potluck week at I Heart Cooking Clubs and I decided to try a home version using Giada's Tomato Soup with Pancetta. I thought the recipe sounded interesting with it's pancetta and onion and it's use of rye bread as a thickener for the soup. This recipe had lots of varying feedback on the Food Network--usually based on whether people liked the bread or not. Being me, and wanting the soup for the more specific purpose of dipping, I used Giada's recipe as a base and made several adaptions.
  • I added 3 smallish cloves of garlic (I needs me my garlic in soup) ;-)
  • To make the soup a bit thicker, I reduced the chicken stock to 4 cups from 6
  • For more tomato flavor, I added 1 box of Pomi tomatoes plus another 1/2 box I had in the freezer & I added 2 Tbsp of tomato paste.
  • Giada does not have the soup pureed in the recipe but for dipping purposes, I pulled out my immersion blender and went for it.
  • I skipped the topping of the mascarpone cheese and sour cream to save my self-imposed dairy allowances for the grilled cheese sandwich and not mess up my dunking.
For the sandwich, I kept the soup's flavors by using some of the marbled rye pan bread I got for the soup (not a lot of choice in rye bread here but this was a good bread), adding a thin layer of pancetta, a little basil and then added smoked gouda and a little smoked mozzarella.

The soup and sandwich combo made a delicious meal--ultimate comfort food.

The recipe for the soup can be found at the Food Network
here. (My changes are all in red above)

Tomato Soup with Pancetta
Adapted from Giada De Laurentiis
(Makes 6 Servings)

1 tablespoon olive oil
3 ounces pancetta, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
3 (3/4-inch-thick) slices rustic rye bread (each about 5 3/4 by 3 3/4 inches), cubed
6 cups canned low-salt chicken broth
1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes with juices
1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh basil leaves
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper flakes
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup mascarpone cheese
1/4 cup sour cream

Heat the oil in a heavy large pot over medium heat. Add the pancetta and saute until crisp and golden, about 5 minutes. Add the onion and saute until tender, about 3 minutes. Add the bread and toss to coat with the pan drippings. Saute until the bread is crisp and golden, about 5 minutes. Add the broth, tomatoes, basil, oregano, and crushed red pepper. Bring the soup to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low. Cover and simmer until the flavors blend, about 10 minutes. Season soup with salt and pepper.

Stir the mascarpone and sour cream in a small bowl to blend. Ladle the soup into bowls. Spoon a dollop of the mascarpone mixture atop the soup and serve.

Notes/Results: The soup was thick, rich and tasty with layers of flavor from the rye and the pancetta and paired with the sandwich well. I think, based on appearance, I would likely puree the soup as a rule in this one--it looked better and I enjoyed the texture more than with the chunks of disintegrating bread--but I am sure some of that has to do with the type and texture of the bread you are using. Sure bread in soup and bread on sandwich means a lot of starch and bread in this meal, but it adds to the flavor and the "dunk factor" with its texture. This soup is easy to make and I would make it again with my changes.

You can check out what the other IHCC peeps chose as their Potluck dishes by going to the post here and checking out the links.

Let's head to the Souper Sundays kitchen, where we have some fabulous dishes waiting, some new friends to meet, and old friends to catch up with.

Speaking of old friends, I am honored to have one making her first appearance at Souper Sundays this week--Ruth from Once Upon A Feast and founder of Presto Pasta Nights--one of my favorite weekly blog events. The cold weather is inspiring Ruth to make comfort food like... "like some hearty soup. My dad's favorite was beef & barley soup, but mine were her split pea or lentil soups with lots of short ribs. And then I found this recipe for Mushroom, Beef, Barley AND Lentil Soup.... need I say more?" Welcome Ruth!

And we have 5 other soup loving friends new to Souper Sundays here this week!

First up is # Héni from Simplicity's Table by the Sea, joining us from her kitchen by the Mediterranean Sea with a sunny Chourba Aâdess Rouge. Héni says, "Today, I am presenting one of my all time favourite winter soups that not only is healthy, low calorie but vegan also! Red lentils, the ones I have used in this soup are the most common type of red lentil is the Red Chief. It's a lovely orange in its dried form, but it turns golden when cooked. These lentils cook faster than others. They're best in purées or soups. Red lentils are mostly used in Indian, Turkish and Middle Eastern cuisine."

Next, joining us from chilly New York City is Maria of Kali Orexi, (Greek for good appetite) who made classic Italian Wedding Soup. She says, "It was a balmy 6 degrees outside when we woke up this morning. The day’s high temp registered at 22 degrees. It’s freezing here in New York to say the least. And when it’s freezing we cook and eat soup … and lots of it. I had some ground beef out defrosting so I clicked on over to and did a search for soups. The first to catch my eye was an Italian Meatball Soup referred to in Italian as Minestra Maritata. Little meatballs, greens, small pasta shapes … "

And we have Champa from Versatile Vegetarian Kitchen who shares a healthy Vegan Tomato Soup. Champa says, "My younger one loves soup. Give some soup with bread or as is, she is a happy person. But, there is a catch to it. It has to have tomatoes in it. I have made pumpkin soup, butternut squash soup which, she will taste once and leave it. But serve her this tomato soup or Roasted red bellpepper soup, she is a happy girl. I made this especially for her and is the reason for not using any herbs."

Another new face and tomato lover is Claire from Chez Cayenne blogging from Houston Texas and with Creamy Tomato Basil Soup. Claire says, "This is a recipe that I've been making variation on for years. It's one of the richest tomato soups out there, thanks to the balsamic vinegar. To neutralize the acid in the vinegar, you add some baking soda, which makes the soup foam up briefly like a science experiment, so it's a fun soup to make, too"

Our final new face is Susan of The Well Seasoned Cook, joining us from New York with unique Shiruko --Japanese Mochi and Azuki Bean Dessert Soup. Susan says, "The (mochi) texture was crispy, crunchy, and light, not unlike puffed rice. I finished each bowl with the lightest rub of dried green mugwort from my fingertips. Mugwort is a distinctively hued herb not unlike green matcha tea, that is used to blend into soft mochi and noodles for novel color and subtle aroma and flavor. A member of the artemesia family, mugwort has many culinary and medicinal uses throughout Europe and the Far East, and has been ascribed with magical properties. While I cannot vouch for its fanciful characteristics, I do believe that a steaming bowl of shiruko can comfort the soul and lift the spirits. If that isn't magic, I don't know what is."

Welcome to Souper Sundays to all of you and I hope to have you back soon! ;-)

My buddy girlichef continues her quest for the best tortilla soup with this beautiful bowl of Good Neighbor Tortilla Soup from "The Good Neighbor Cookbook." girlichef says, "I think what really sets this version apart is the extent to which the flavors are built and developed. Bone-in chicken breasts poached in chicken stock for a fortified, double-strength chicken punch. Charred veggies lend smoky, earthy undertones. ... There's just so much flavor...and goodies...packed into each spoonful that it's hard to dismiss. Yes, there are chiles in it, but they are mild pasillas. They add the depth without the fire. Join me in a warm bowl of Tortilla Soup?"

Debbi of Debbi Does Dinner... Healthy & Low Calorie is back this week with a Green Chili Chicken & Lime Soup and says, "I've made this soup a number of times and each time it seems to get better and better. I often cook a bunch of chicken and have bags of portioned cooked, shredded chicken in the freezer. I cooked the rice early in the day so when it came time for dinner, this was able to be thrown together very quickly. Very healthy and incredibly tasty!!"

Tigerfish from Teczcape - An Escape to Food made a simple Clear Daikon Soup and says, "About simplification of already-simple dishes, I also attempted to make a clear daikon soup one day, without the chicken. Some green onions and Japanese Dried Ebi (Shrimps), that was it. With a few ingredients, this is not a soup big and bold on the flavors. But if you wish for something light, it may just be it."

Corina from Searching for Spice has a restorative Poached Salmon in Noodle Soup. She says, "My husband has been feeling unwell with a nasty cold and I keep feeling like a sore throat is coming on so my aim tonight was to make something soothing that would make us both feel better. With lots of garlic, ginger and chilli as well as super-healthy salmon, this dish was just what we both needed. ... It’s delicious, filling and healthy. What more could you want on a cold winter’s night?"

Lindsey from Enjoying Healthy Foods has a Paleo Chili with Cauliflower (No Beans) about which she says. "Like I said yesterday, hubby was out of town this past weekend and out the door was my diet. I ate grains and I had dairy and my elbows broke out and my body ached and I got sick. It is hard cutting out such BIG ingredients. I am still learning and I am still making mistakes. READ SET GO --- Another Chili recipe with 3/4 vegetables 1/4 meat!!!! Yes - I have made another chili --- NO ALMOND BUTTER this time!!! :)"

Julie from Little Bit of Everything made a healthy Tomato Chickpea Soup. She says, "It's a delicious version of tomato soup. The rosemary adds a nice earthy fragrance to the tomatoes and the chickpeas give it some substance. I brought my rosemary plant in for the winter and so far it's doing pretty well. I've found the fastest way to chop rosemary is to snip it with kitchen shears, much quicker than trying to chop with a knife. I almost always have some homemade chicken stock in the freezer, so I used it in place of the veggie stock."

My pal Joanne from Eats Well With Others has two dishes to share this week, chili and a salad. For her Pork and Black-Eyed Pea Chili she says, "Make this chili. This chili, which is smoky spicy stick-to-your-ribs-but-not-to-your-thighs delicious. It will win you brownie points. And chocolate points. And take-you-out-to-a-Michelin-starred-dinner on V day points. Yes, I know. I love you too."

About her Roasted Pumpkin, Wild Rice and White Bean Salad with a Ginger Sunflower Seed Dressing Joanne says, "I first encountered this salad on 101 Cookbooks but then doctored it up to suit my needs. I added white beans, because they are beautiful. I added ginger because the dressing tasted a little...well...boring without it. And I doubled it so that I could at least pretend that I was bringing it to share with other people. Sometimes, I can be selfish in such an altruistic kind of way."

Denise from Oh Taste N See is here with Boraani Esfenaaj – Iranian Spinach and Yogurt Salad and says, "Boraani Esfenaaj is the Iranian version of the Indian raita. Most often served with meat and rice dishes as a a side, it is a cool and refreshing salad of spinach and yogurt. Boraani means salad in Iranian and Esfenaaj means spinach. It is a very simple preparation where you saute the spinach, cool it and mix it with yogurt."

We have one hearty sandwich from Roz at la bella vita, this Cobb Salad in a Wrap. Roz says, "There aren't many people who don't like a loaded, classic Cobb Salad. Today I prepared a lower- calorie version of the Cobb salad in the form of a turkey wrap! It was a perfect low-cal substitute and thoroughly flavorful and filling. My husband looked at it and said, "I find it hard to believe that this wrap is low-cal!" Well, it is! This wrap is going to make some encore appearances in my lunch boxes, that's for sure!"

Another fantastic turnout this week. Thanks to everyone who joined in and another big welcome to our new friends. If you have a soup, salad, or sandwich that you would like to share, just click on the Souper Sundays logo on my side bar for the guidelines and details.

Have a happy, healthy week!


  1. ooh cobb salad wrap, tomato soup, grilled cheese....yes to all in your round-up!!

  2. What a beautiful roundup. Thanks Deb for putting it together. I sure will be back with something else next week.

  3. Must be the week for tomato soup :). Thanks for so many great recipes this week.

  4. I would eat that meal with GREAT pleasure! Dippin' a grilled cheese in soup is just the best. And I love rye-pump swirl, so...and the pancetta...mmmm! I love your changes, as well. Thanks for the wonderful roundup, Deb :D

  5. Tomato soup and grilled cheese have to be an ultimate comfort food. I can't have one without the other. A great round up (and wouldn't it be nice if I got my act together and coordinated my soup days). I wish we had a food truck here in the hinterlands.

  6. A. I love soup almost as much as I love bread and cheese.And wait you have all three on hear,hooray! Tomato soup and grilled cheese was family classic in my house growing up,thanks for taking me back.Loved this post.

  7. Love the changes you made... especially adding garlic and using your immersion blender.

  8. I would have a problem if there was a Melt food truck anywhere near my house. I'd be wanting to go there everyday :) I like all you adaptations to the soup and think it looks very "dunkworthy"!

    A very fun roundup this week with some unique and fun soups. Love the Japanese dessert soup - really interesting.

  9. I love Heather's pursuit of tortilla soup!

  10. I have a certain penchant for tomato soup...add pancetta and I'm pretty sure miracles happen. This looks amazing!

    Great round many newbies this week!

  11. Great roundup and so many choices to help me through what is already a long cold winter (and it's still January.

  12. Just the name Melt already has me on board. I can just picture some gooey cheese! I have been craving tomato soup like crazy this winter. I just made some last week, but I'm ready for it again and this recipe sounds great!

  13. Everything looks wonderful. As much as Sundays have traditionally been reserved for big mid-day dinners, I love the lighter menus these recipes encourage. For me, Sundays are lazy days. Thanks for the inspiration to keep things low-key, yet delicious.

  14. You know, I never made tomato soup per se but it indeed sounds delicious alongside that savory grilled cheese sandwich.

    Great round-up Deb! I especially love Ruth's mushroom, beef, barley and lentil soup as I've got all of those ingredients waiting to be used.

  15. Mmm, definitely a sophisticated turn on the lunchtime classic. Great changes too. ☺

  16. I've got to say that I've never been a big fan of tomato soup, but you sure make it look good, and with that grilled cheese I think you could probably tempt me :-)

  17. Fabulous round up! Love this event ;)

  18. It's been too long since I had tomato soup with a comforting grilled cheese to dip in it! And here I see lots of different, delicious varieties to tempt me. I'm hoping to make it back into the round-up this week!

  19. Another excellent round up! You've got to love Giada... I've not had a recipe of hers that I didn't like. And I know what you mean about the grilled cheese!
    I'm really looking at that wrap at the bottom of the post too! I think it was the avocado peeking out that makes it look so good!
    I forgot to enter my soup again.... Hopefully I'll do better next week!

  20. Your soup looks wonderful and the rest of the round-up is so good that it is hard to pick a favorite to try. I hope you have a great day. Blessings...Mary


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