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Ina Garten has taken comfort food to the next level with a classic tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwich combination that’s reimagined in a unique way. Find out how the Barefoot Contessa elevates her tomato soup recipe with a fun addition.

Hoda Kotb, Ina Garten, and Jenna Bush Hager on Today show
Hoda Kotb, Ina Garten, and Jenna Bush Hager | Nathan Congleton/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

Ina Garten combines soup and a sandwich in this unique way

What’s more comforting than homemade tomato soup with a grilled cheese sandwich? The Barefoot Contessa Ina Garten took the two legendary comfort foods and put them together — and her method is pretty genius.

She makes both foods but, instead of a sandwich on the side, Garten chops up the sandwich and makes “grilled cheese croutons” to top the soup.

The Barefoot Contessa tomato soup also includes a couple of extras to make it even tastier and more comforting, if that’s even possible — orzo pasta and a pinch of saffron.


  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 cups yellow onions, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  • Large pinch of saffron threads
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup orzo
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • Grilled cheese croutons

Grilled cheese croutons

  • 4 (½-inch-thick) slices country white bread
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 4 ounces Gruyère cheese, grated

Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large pot or Dutch oven, then add onions, cooking on medium-low for 15 minutes. Stir occasionally, then add garlic and cook an additional minute. Add the stock, tomatoes, saffron, 1 tablespoon salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper. Stir. Bring to a boil, then turn the heat to low. Simmer for 15 minutes.

In another pot, filled with water and 2 teaspoons salt, bring to a boil, add the orzo and cook for 7 minutes. Drain and add the pasta to the soup. Stir in the heavy cream and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring frequently.

Meanwhile, butter two slices of bread with melted butter and grill the sandwich using 4 ounces of Gruyère cheese. Allow to cool slightly before cutting it into cubes, then top the soup with the grilled cheese “croutons.”


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Ina Garten developed a grown-up grilled cheese sandwich

Garten’s use of a grilled cheese sandwich is inspired, but if you’re looking for an amazing standalone grilled cheese sandwich with a more adult spin, look no further than the Barefoot Contessa’s Ultimate Grilled Cheese sandwich.

Garten steps up the flavors for a more adult palate, with a blend of cheeses, bacon, and one unusual ingredient — parmesan cheese. It’s all tied together with a mustard and mayonnaise spread.


  • 12 slices bacon
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • 1½ teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 white pullman loaf or sourdough bread, sliced ½ inch thick (12 slices)
  • 6 tablespoons salted butter, at room temperature
  • 6 ounces aged Gruyère or Comté cheese, grated
  • 6 ounces extra-sharp Cheddar, grated

While the bacon is cooking, butter each slice of bread and flip over, butter side down. Combine the mustard, mayonnaise, parmesan, salt, and pepper and spread it on the bread. Then add shredded gruyere and cheddar cheeses, and place a small amount of bacon on each sandwich. Grill the sandwiches in a panini press or in a hot skillet.