The Ultimate Addition to Soup? A Cheesy, Toasty Top

The Cheesemonger

Love French onion soup more for the topping than for the soup itself? Look no further for some inspiration to French onion-ify your other favorite soups.

Think of this soup topper as a tasty lid that'll make any soup beneath even more delicious. With the addition of bread and cheese, any soup transforms into an instant meal, and the process is just about as easy as it gets. The options are endless for which soups make the best candidates, too. Read on for the how-to and for some of the best soup options for this over-the-top soup topper.

Let me first state the obvious: Jamie Oliver is genius and I'd never claim full credit for this idea. His cheese-ing of an Italian-style bread soup with Savoy cabbage, kale, brown butter, and sage inspired my thought to extend his method to other recipes.

Turn any soup into a cheesy bread soup by adopting his tactic of first toasting thick slices of rustic, crusty bread, and rubbing each piece with garlic. (Don't omit this garlic-rubbing step. The aroma infuses through the soup and makes the topping into a makeshift garlic bread, too.) In a large soup pot or Dutch oven, alternately layer your soup with slices of the bread and a good melting cheese. Jamie likes Gruyere. End with bread slices, and lastly, the cheese. Lots of it. Then bake until bubbling and aromatic.

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The result is seriously show-stopping. This technique turns any soup more casserole-like, and if you choose to layer bread and cheese throughout, they'll add body to broth-based soups. Purees and thicker soups make great candidates, too. Think of how delicious it can be for a cauliflower soup to soak into a crouton, for example, or how a bit of grated cheese on your minestrone can be just what makes it. This cheesy toast is a combination of all that's great about what bread and cheese can add to soup.

Other great cheeses that melt that would make excellent options in a cheesy bread soup: fontina, Comte, emmenthal, appenzeller, cheddar, Pleasant Ridge Reserve, mozzarella, raclette, gorgonzola cremificato, and Hoch Ybrig. Choose anything that melts into stringy, luscious gooeyness, rather than something like parmesan, which melts, but doesn't goo. Sorry, that's cheese speak.

Amp up the intrigue by using breads with olives, seeds, nuts, or even fruit, if you think it'd match the soup. Try sesame bread, cornbread, pumpernickle, or brioche. Or if you want to double down on the cheese factor, source yourself a cheese bread.

And now for the soups. From our archives, some great options that'd take especially well to a bread and cheese application:

Soups to Cheese Toast-ify:
Vegetarian Split Pea Soup with Grilled Cheese Croutons: Take out the croutons, of course
Hearty Kale and Sausage Soup
Black-Eyed Pea Soup with Andouille & Collards
Zucchini Garlic Soup
Cream of Celery Soup with Bacon
Cream of Tomato Soup
Italian Wedding Soup
Chicken Stew with Kale and Cannellini Beans
Roasted Broccoli and Cheddar Soup

Get the original Jamie Oliver recipe that inspired this post: Italian Bread and Cabbage Soup with Sage Butter

The possibilities are endless. Think cheese, think bread. And think your favorite soup. Now get layering!

Nora Singley is an avid lover of cheese, and used to be a cheesemonger and the Director of Education at Murray's Cheese Shop in New York City, where she continues to teach cheese classes for the public. She is currently a TV Chef on The Martha Stewart Show.

Related: Soup Recipe: Tuscan Bread & Tomato Soup (Ribollita)

(Images: Nora Singley)

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Nora Singley used to be a cheesemonger and the Director of Education at Murray's Cheese Shop. Until recently she was a TV Chef on The Martha Stewart Show. She is currently a freelance food stylist and recipe developer in New York.