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For the soup
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 ribs celery with leafy tops, finely chopped
  • 2 to 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • Salt
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 2 cans Italian tomatoes
  • 2 cups passata or tomato purée
  • A handful basil leaves, torn
For the Garlic Bread Grilled Cheese
  • 4 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1 tablespoon EVOO – Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, grated
  • 2 tablespoons flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup grated Parm cheese
  • 8 to 12 slices white bread
  • 4 to 6 slices mild provolone
  • 4 to 6 slices deli-sliced mozzarella, white American or white mild cheddar


Serves: 4-6


For the soup, heat a soup pot over medium-low to medium heat with oil, 3 turns of the pan. Add onions, celery, garlic and chili flakes, season with a little salt and cook gently for 15 minutes to soften, stirring frequently. Add stock and raise heat to medium-high.  Add tomatoes and break them up with wooden spoon; add passata and simmer 35-40 minutes to break down tomatoes. Purée soup with an immersion blender or in batches in a blender until smooth; adjust salt to taste.

For the sandwiches, stir together the butter, EVOO, garlic, parsley and grated cheese.  Lightly butter 1 side of each slice of bread then build cheese sandwiches using both cheeses, with the buttered sides of the bread facing out. Grill sandwiches on a hot griddle over medium heat to deep golden.

Tear basil and stir into soup. Cut sandwiches corner to corner and serve alongside soup.