Updated: Nov 24, 2018
Melty cheese sandwich grilled in grassfed butter to a crispy golden brown then dunked in savory tomato basil soup, this grilled cheese epitomizes comfort food.
Grilled cheese and tomato soup is comfort food. As a kid, a grilled cheese sandwich was always what I ordered when I went out to lunch with my mom. Stretchy, melty cheese between two slices of buttered, toasty bread. If tomato soup was available, I'd dunk my grilled cheese in it to make it extra special. This recipe is extremely easy to make and really satisfies.
There are a few things to note when making this recipe lectin free. First, is the bread! I make my Lectin Free Gourmet sourdough bread for this sandwich. To me it's the closest thing to real bread in loft and taste. Make it if you're into making bread. Otherwise, you can use Paleo Bread. Or you can bake an easier loaf of California Country Gal bread. The instructions on Annabelle's bread mix package say to use one cup of egg whites, or about six eggs, and vinegar for best results.
I don't like to use all those eggs for one loaf of bread. So, I discovered that if you add my LFG starter to the California Country Gal mix and create a leaven, you don't need any eggs or vinegar at all. It comes out even better, airier and less spongy when you make it with the starter. But rather than mixing it and kneading it and popping the loaf in the oven, there is a leavening stage where the bread has to ferment for four hours. The bread in the image is made from my no-egg California Country Gal bread, so try making it if you are inclined, especially if you've been working on your sourdough starter.
The next thing to discuss is the cheese. This is going to be long, so if you don't want to hear it, skip to the recipe. Many people get confused about which cheeses they can have on restricted diets like Plant Paradox, Paleo AIP, and Keto for example. Dr. Gundry has a list of YES foods, but it's certainly not a comprehensive list. Pomegranates, for example, are not on the list and they are amazing for you. Some assume that only the few cheeses Dr. Gundry mentions by name are safe to eat. But in fact, there are many more.
Dr. Gundry suggests that only a2 milk is okay to consume when it comes to cow's milk. While I follow the Paradox very closely when it comes to most things, I have to disagree with the dairy bit. I looked into a2 milk, and I personally won't drink it. Here's why. I am very careful NOT to consume pesticides and lectins. A2 milk likely has BOTH. When I researched a2 cows, I discovered that the milk is sourced from many local dairies. The dairies are NOT required to be certified organic, nor are they required to pasture their cows. Instead they agree that the cows are raised "humanely", by standards set by a company called Validus. The standards include 10 guidelines regarding handling, care and appearance of animals and "could" include things like herd health, feed and water access, animal hygiene, humane handling practices, facility conditions, and a handful of others, none of which include organic or pasture feeding specifications.
A2 cows can't be given antibiotics or hormones, and they are fed an "all vegetarian, plant-based diet". But that most likely includes corn and soy. There is no requirement that a2 cows be raised organically or be grass fed. While a2 cows are certified to have the a2 gene, as certifiable by a test developed by the a2 company, it's inconsistent as to what they are fed. We know that lectins are excreted through milk glands. And, like regular milk, a2 milk is mixed together when it goes into the carton. This likely means pesticides and lectins in the milk.
Additionally, the scientific studies that promote a2 milk were either conducted by the company's founder or paid for by a2 Milk Company. The studies are weak and at best suggest that certain people (Chinese) already genetically sensitive to milk had a hard time with the regular milk in the study. Well, no duh! The study concluded that these subjects "may" find a2 milk easier to digest. There's no conclusive study that proves a2 milk is any healthier where lectins are concerned. And, what's more, independent studies attempted have not been able to corroborate the findings by the two self-serving studies conducted by a2. There's a rat study, but as a lot of rat studies go, they're given ridiculous amounts of something to see how bad it can get. That's a whole different blog.
So, until further research tells me otherwise, and when a2 milk becomes certified organic and grassfed, I won't touch it. It's a personal choice based on a lot of reading on NIH.gov. No pesticides and no lectins are my criteria for dairy.
You can use whatever melty cheese you're comfortable with for this recipe. Generally, I don't consume a lot of cow dairy. But for this sandwich, I chose organic, full-fat fontina cheese from organic, 100% grassfed California cows. And it was a treat!
But if you are a P-dox disciple, use a2 cheese if you can find it, or use goat cheese, which has the more easily digested beta-casein, too. For me, I know that high-fat cheeses have a very low casein content to begin with because it's mostly fat. Low-fat cheeses have a higher casein to fat ratio, so I never buy low-fat cheese. Just use whatever compliant cheese that works for you. The key is to get a nice melty result.
Next, let's talk about tomatoes. Yes, you CAN eat tomatoes on the Plant Paradox diet. Just blanch them to remove their peel and chuck the seeds. Okay, now let's get to the recipe.
LFG Grilled Cheese
4 slices of your favorite lectin free bread
Your favorite melty cheese
4 T Grassfed Butter or Ghee
LFG Tomato Basil Soup
1 C Strained Tomatoes
1 C Organic Grassfed Whole Milk (or your preferred compliant milk)
Salt to taste (about 1/4 teaspoon)
1/4 C Fresh Basil chopped
Slice enough cheese to layer into two sandwiches. Assemble the sandwiches. Heat a large skillet on medium low heat. Melt four tablespoons of butter or ghee in the skillet. Lay the assembles sandwiches over the melted butter. Cook one side about five minutes and flip. Grilled cheese sandwiches are done when crispy and golden brown and cheese is melted.
Make the soup ahead of time and heat up or quickly make it while you're grilling the sandwiches. Put strained tomatoes, milk and salt in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Turn off heat and add chopped basil. Transfer the hot, chunky soup into an blender. Blend until smooth and creamy. Pour into bowls or ramekins.
Serve the grilled cheese and tomato soup with a nice green salad.