Rarebit is a word with a rather confusing etymology. It used to be Welsh “rabbit,” but somewhere between the 18th and 21st centuries it morphed into “rarebit” instead. Attempting to Google for an answer turns up a wide range of theories, and I quickly got lost in the tangle of tabs and links; if you’re really curious about linguistics, feel free to do your own work. I’m being lazy this week.
One thing they all do agree on, however, is that regular rarebit is simply melted cheese on bread. Basically, it’s an open-faced grilled cheese sandwich. So this tomato rarebit looks vaguely like a rarebit, in that it has cheese — but really not many other characteristics in common. (Always worrying when they just use a name and then ignore everything else…)
1 can (1-1/4 cups) condensed tomato soup
1/2 cup milk
1 cup shredded sharp American cheese
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
2 eggs, well beaten
Combine ingredients in order given. Heat slowly, stirring constantly, until the cheese is melted and the rarebit is thickened. Serve on crisp crackers. Garnish with water cress, if desired.
It’s impossible to find shredded American cheese, or even American cheese in block form that can be shredded at home. So we generally use the same sandwich squares we buy for grilled cheese sandwiches and just chop those up into tiny bits. It doesn’t look at all like it went through a grater, but it’s in small-enough bits.
(This does not even begin to compare with the resourcefulness with which Yinzerella met the “grated American cheese” challenge. She wins the internet.)
Continuing our rarebit prep, let’s put the soup in the pot.
And add cheese.
And add mustard.
And add two beaten eggs.
It took a surprisingly long time for all the cheese to melt, so I was stirring for about five minutes. (I do find it rather absurd to complain about only five minutes of prep time, though. It takes about that much time to make a sandwich.)
Poured over some crackers and put on the table! (No watercress, sorry — I only know of one place in town to buy it and I wasn’t driving thirty minutes for y’all.)
This was quite good, actually. The mustard gave it a bit of zip, the cheese/egg combination made it creamy and rich, and the tomato soup base held it all together (and, of course, tasted tomatoey). Results may vary: I think the taste would be highly dependent on the quality of tomato soup that one gets (I generally buy REALLY GOOD soup), since that’s the dominating flavor — even American cheese wasn’t able to ruin the dish! It’s definitely worth keeping in mind for a quick lunch or a light supper.
The tomato rarebit recipe was found online in thenoirkitten’s Flickr stream.