Fontina & Asiago Grilled Cheese Panini & Creamy Tomato Basil Soup

For those of you who live in parts of the country that have been getting hit hard with the Winter of 2010 blizzards, snow and ice storms . . . here’s the perfect cozy-up lunch idea that I made last week when the weather rolled through the Carolina’s. Here’s a few photos of what we experienced that was just enough ‘weather’ to build a roaring fire in the fireplace and put my diet to the side for one day!

Grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup! What could be more perfect for a cold winter’s day lunch? So many of us in the U.S. grew up with this classic, yet simple combination of soup and sammy. But traditionally we’ve used Velveeta cheese alone or at least in combination of other cheeses. And for the soup, we usually opened up a can of tomato soup and added milk and butter in place of water. Not bad for a quick and comforting lunch. This used to hit the spot, but as our tastes mature canned soup doesn’t satisfy anymore, especially after a taste of this creamy tomato basil soup from the Barefoot Contessa, which takes this classic combo to another level!
I always keep my cheese drawer in my frig full of a variety of cheeses at all times. (It may not be good for a diet, but discipline is key there, huh?). The cheese staples always include an assortment of Fontina, Asiago, Parmesan, Pecorino, Feta, and Maytag blue cheese. Since these are constants in our ‘cold pantry’, a more interesting grilled cheese sandwich is always at the ready!

Italian Grilled Fontina & Asiago Cheese Panini
What you need to make the panini:
Italian bread, sliced fairly thick
Fontina cheese, sliced
Asiago cheese, grated into slivers
Parmesan cheese, grated
Pecorino cheese grated
Olive Oil
What you need to do to make the panini:
Brush the olive oil generously on one side of two pieces of Italian bread
Layer the Fontina slices on top of one slice of bread (not the olive oil side)
Sprinkle a lot of Asiago slivers on top
Sprinkle a lot of Parmesan cheese on top
Sprinkle a lot of Pecornino cheese on top
Place on your hot panini grill.
Grill for about 2 1/2 minutes and then flip over and grill until golden and cheese begins to ooze onto the grill.


Serve hot with Barefoot Contessa’s Creamy Tomato Basil soup! A few posts earlier, I posted a recipe from my new cookbook that I received from my niece for Christmas. So instead of the old canned soup standby, I referred to Ina’s recipe on pp 58 – 59 for homemade tomato-basil soup. For this I used fresh-frozen tomatoes from my garden that have been screaming for me to take out of the freezer! If you use high quality canned tomatoes, you should also get nice results. I also keep frozen chicken broth in my freezer so that it is always ready for recipes such as this one. The changes that I made to this recipe included: not adding any sugar, using sea salt instead of Kosher salt, adding more garlic, and increasing the cream to 1 cup. I also use an immersion blender to get everything working together better.
Cream of Tomato Basil Soup (by Barefoot Contessa, Ina Garten)
What you need for the soup:

3 Tbsp. olive oil
1 1/2 cups chopped onions
2 carrots, unpeeled and chopped
2 Tbsp. minced garlic
5 large fresh or frozen from the garden tomatoes, chopped
1 Tbsp. tomato paste
1/4 cup packed chopped fresh basil leaves
3 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade (my recipe is under “soup” on my sidebar index)
1 tablespoon sea salt
2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 cup heavy cream
What you need to do to make the soup:


Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy pot over low heat.
Add the onions and carrots and saute for about 10 minutes, until tender.
Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute.
Stir in the tomatoes, tomato paste, basil, chicken stock, salt, and pepper.
Bring this to a boil, and then lower the heat to simmer uncovered, for 35 minutes, until the tomatoes are very tender.
Blend in the cream.
Place an immersion blender into the pot and blend well.
Using a sieve/strainer, pull out any large unwanted chunks of anything.
Reheat the soup over low heat.
Garnish with basil leaves.
Stay warm now!
Your comments make me smile and I promise to get back to you. I may be slow at it because I get easily distracted by something brewing in the kitchen or hummingbirds in my gardens.

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  1. Great lunch Roz. The soup sounds great and the panini, a new twist on an old favorite! Grilled cheese and tomato soup is one of those fond childhood memories that I hold dear! No freezing rain or snow down here to make me recall this one!

  2. Classic! Course mine is never this fancy but I’d sure love to share a lunch of this with you my friend! We have cold weather moving in tonight – it was in the high 60s yesterday and tonite will drop to the high 20s! Lows will be in the 30s the rest of the week thru the weekend. They are even speaking of possible S-N-O-W in southern Mississippi. Nothing like that picture of yours though!

  3. Perfect comfort food for a chilly evening. The oozing cheese has me craving a panini right now!

  4. Now this is what I call comfort food!

  5. You upgraded two classic favorites to gourmet status! The weather outside is frightening. These are perfect comfort right now.

  6. Your Fontina and Asiago grilled cheese sounds so delicious!

  7. We have been hit too here in NKY. All I want to do is cook and eat. I love Paninis and this one sounds delicious.

  8. This is what I call comfort food.

  9. I am so enjoying your blog! The ultimate comfort food – in a grown up way. I’m now folowing so I don’t miss anything! Thanks for stopping by, and for your ever so appreciated sweet comment about ‘Bless your heart’ and my new look! Hope you’ll be back soon.

  10. Roz- I came back and snagged your button for my site. I was so impressed after I read your About Me page. Absolutely beautiful. So calm and grounded. I loved learning more about you. Thank you for sharing.

  11. oh wow now this is the grilled cheese and tomato soup I would go for hands down! love it

  12. I love the way fontina melts. I bet Ina’s creamy tomato basil coup is absolutely delicious. Her recipes are awesome. A Perfect cold weather meal:D

  13. All I really have to say is YUM! Oh .. and Yes Please! :)

  14. Oh, Roz, this looks so yummy and I just LOVE panini! I had to also let you know that I have the same dish pattern as you do, don’t you just love them?!?

  15. Just wanted to remind you to hook up on Friday Follow tomorrow! Go to (or either of the other 2 hosts) and add your site. Or, I’ll post the link to the hosts on my post also. I think you’ll enjoy it!

  16. My favorite combo for a cold wintry day. I am especially excited to try the soup.
    504 Main

  17. This would be a really wonderful way to get through a snowstorm!

  18. Following you from the Friday Follow.

  19. It IS a beautiful life! So glad I found your blog through Friday Follow. Our family has a house in Hayesville and we are there quite often. The mountains are beautiful there!

  20. Wonderful Friday, dear friend !!!

    I have an award for you !!!! Stop by and grab it :)


  21. Your newest follower from Friday follow! COme see my blog!

  22. That looks incredible!
    Came over from Friday Follow. I’m a new follower! I’m actually your 100th:)

  23. Oh that is one of my favorite meals—ever!!!!

    Thought I was already following?

    I am following you from FF. I hope you will pop on by and follow back. Happy Valentine’s Day from that Blonde. Juliana from A Blonde Walks Into A Blog.

  24. Hey, Roz Here’s how I’ve been doing it – there may be a better way (but I don’t know what it is!) – the first 3 on the list are the hostesses of the blog hop so you stop in and comment, and follow them – then they follow you back. Then other people will also click on your link and stop in your site. You can go down the list and find sites you think you might enjoy – follow them, and leave them a comment asking them to follow you. If you figure out a better way – please let me know!

  25. I love grilled panini.

    Happy Friday Follow.

    I am your new follower.Tag, you’re it,lol

  26. Yummy yummy on the Panini! And love the wintry snow pics! Stay warm! And Happy Friday and Happy V-Day to all!

  27. That looks so great. Hi there! Thanks for joining the Blog Hop. I’m following you now. Love your blog. I’ll be back later to read more.

    Happy Follow Friday!


  28. That looks SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO Good!!!

    I’m here from Friday Follow! I’m glad to have found your blog! Following you now. Hope you’ll follow me back! :)

    Shannon at:

  29. I love tomato soup and grilled cheese. YUM I am now following you from Friday Follow. Happy Friday Follow :)

  30. yum sounds great on this cold winter nite in Illinois

  31. You’re an Italian cook AND you teach research methods?! You are officially my hero :) I so hope we can be bloggy friends!

    Thanks for stopping by the Cellulite Investigation. I would love to have your input on any research-related issues.

  32. What a perfect combination. I like the look of your blog very much; very pleasing to the eyes.

    Thanks for linking up with Friday Follow! I am now your blog follower. Happy weekend!

    ~ Lynn

  33. That looks so delicious – and as I am trapped in the snow still, I need some great hearty food suggestions!

  34. happy saturday!

    Your blog is really beautiful and these recipes sounds delicious. Grilled cheese is one of my favorites..

  35. That’s interesting to see carrots in there! I need to get some carrots and tomatoes but I have eveything else to make this!

    I have a question for you though. If I were to used canned tomatoes, how much would I need? 2-3 cups maybe?

  36. Love your recipes. I am planning on making the Cheese panini this week. Glad to have you part of the fun of Friday Follow. Rita @

  37. Hello! I just wanted to stop by & say thank you for joining my community! I really appreciate your membership — You have a beautiful blog… getting hungry just looking at these photos!! Take care, Erika!

  38. Great recipe thanx for sharing

  39. Roz those are simply gorgeous and delicious recipes! I can’t wait to make them. I know it’s simple comfort food and yes, I have canned soup in the pantry but this is going to be made the next time we have soup and sammies! Thanks for stopping by my blog AND leaving a comment. So many visitors, so few comments. What’s up with that?

  40. I love that panini! Delicious!

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