Posted by: Erica Retrochef | October 28, 2013

Tomato Rarebit

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.


  1. You can find blocks of American cheese at the big warehouse stores, but I’m not sure it would grate any better than the Velveeta knock-off did. Here in Washington state we buy it at Costco or a restaurant supply store that has large amounts of food. We can slice it on a meat slicer, but it’s still a gooey business if the block isn’t good and cold! I wonder how one of the liquid cheese substitutes would work?

    • For one of these recipes that called for grated American cheese, I just bought the requisite amount from the supermarket deli counter and asked them to give it to me all in one slice. They seemed to think I was nuts, but they complied. Grating it was kind of a pain though, so the next time around I had them slice it thin and further diced it at home with a knife.

  2. Necessity is the mother of invention πŸ™‚

  3. But…how do you eat it? Like nachos? With a spoon?

    • A bit more like nachos (scooping the rarebit up with crackers), although as the crackers melt away or you have eaten all the crackers, you have to resort to a spoon πŸ™‚

  4. Welsh Rarebit is best made on an old fashioned chaffing dish at the dining table

  5. Sorry, reading through the archives, so I don’t know if you’ll even *get* this, but I just thought I’d mention that they actually do make shredded Velveeta. I’ve seen it at my local grocery stores (both Winn-Dixie and Wal-Mart, as well as a locally-owned one).

    • Good to know! Guess I just didn’t look hard enough πŸ™‚

  6. A little bit later…
    The “original” recipe for Welsh rarebit is not “simply melted cheese on bread”. The “melted cheese” is actually sort of cheesy sauce, and people can pour it over the bread as much or little as they wish.
    Some people grill this concoction, and this has developed into “open faced grilled cheese sandwich”.

  7. This is quite a bit like something we grew up on (practically) that our family (several generations) always called rinktumditty. The differences were that it started with a white sauce (milk, flour, margarine), then the tomato soup was stirred in, then cheese (although I think my grandmother used American, we always used cheddar). That was it – no dry mustard, no eggs. Then it was poured over broken crackers (used to use Saltines, but have used Ritz for years). Yum!

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