For many years we picked up our five children from school on Friday afternoons and made our way the two-and-half hours north to the Green Mountain State for some alpine adventuring. My husband and I had all but given up skiing, but our children loved the slopes. We enjoyed the all-day après ski lifestyle in which we would park ourselves in front of the lodge's roaring fire, read novels, chill out, order a cocktail (or two) around noon, and eat a civilized lunch together. The children would arrive around four o'clock in the afternoon ravenous and exhausted. This tomato soup is a family favorite that warms the body and the soul. I would make it and pack it along with our panini press for these Vermont winter journeys. The grilled cheese was easy to make and a tank filler for hungry skiers. Some of my favorite memories of my young family together include condo tables covered with one of our own vintage wool plaid blankets and set with whatever dinnerware available, the candlelight adding a warm glow to all their precious faces, and the satisfaction of slurping sounds, and kids looking upward to see whose grilled cheese could create the ooiest, gooiest strands of cheese before bites landed mouth-side. Best of all was the content quietness after a simple meal enjoyed by all and watching my husband carry off to bed before seven o'clock some very tired and very happy kids.