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Why You Should Add Tomato Soup to Your Macaroni and Cheese

A cast iron skillet is filled with macaroni and cheese and sits next to a group of tomatoes.

For many people, macaroni and cheese is sacred. The recipe they use is the only acceptable one. If you’re willing to try something new, a shocking, canned ingredient might elevate your cheesy pasta.

Canned tomato soup is the missing piece of your macaroni and cheese recipe. Yes, we know this sounds odd, but we’re kind of sold on the idea.

The recipe comes from baker and content creator Dan Langan who shared the recipe with Food Network. Langan explained that the addition of tomato sauce is part of how his mother used to make mac and cheese. The version is one of his favorites.

To add the tomato soup, Langan recommended making a roux with butter, flour, salt, pepper, and onion powder. Then, whisk in canned tomato soup and milk. Once simmering, toss in your cheeses, and you’ve got a tomatoey meets cheesy sauce.

Basically, it’s like grilled cheese and tomato soup but in macaroni and cheese form—a brand new take on two classic comfort foods.

Why does this recipe work? It’s all about the blend of flavors you’re getting. According to Food52, there’s a reason for it. The pair brings out the umami flavor by blending sweetness, sourness, salt, and fat. Basically, it’s a full-on flavor explosion.

This isn’t the only example of an odd pairing coming together, though. There are plenty. One of our favorites is adding peanut butter and jelly to your grilled cheese sandwich. Sounds weird, right? But think about a charcuterie board. When you snack, you often compare cheese, nuts, and fruit. That’s exactly the flavor profile you get with a peanut butter and jelly grilled cheese.

So sure, we understand that macaroni and cheese is a hard dish to mess with, and you might not want to do this every time you make it. But if you’re open to new recipes, this might be one to try.

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