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.
cuisine American
difficulty Easy
recipe small plates
season Fall & Winter


  • 6 pints of cherry, grape, or cocktail tomatoes
  • Olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 2 large onions, chopped
  • 8 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 3 tablespoons of unsalted butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 28 ounce can of San Marzano crushed tomatoes
  • 1 large container basil
  • 1 quart chicken stock
  • 1 cup heavy cream


  • 12 slices artisanal bread
  • 12 ounces gruyere, grated
  • 12 ounces fontina, grated
  • 4 tablespoons butter, melted (only if making in a skillet)


  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
  2. Place the tomatoes in a single layer on a half sheet baking tray, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle generously with salt and pepper, and roast for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the tomatoes are slightly charred and bursting.
  3. In a large Dutch oven over medium heat, add the olive oil and the butter. When the butter is melted add the onions and stir until the onions are translucent.
  4. Add the garlic and the red pepper flakes and stir for two minutes. Add the canned crushed tomatoes, the chicken stock, basil, and the burst tomatoes to the pot.
  5. Bring to a boil and simmer for 45 minutes. Pass through a food mill and return to the pot. Bring to a boil, lower the heat to a simmer, and cook 45 minutes more to intensify the flavor. Finish the soup by adding the cream.


  1. Preheat a panini press or a large skillet over medium heat.
  2. Toss the cheeses together.
  3. If using a skillet, the bread slices must be buttered. It is optional if using the panini press.
  4. Add the cheese 1.5" thick to cover one slice of bread. Top with another slice of bread.
  5. Place the sandwich on the panini press and grill it until golden and the cheese has melted. If using a skillet, place the sandwich in the skillet. Check after two minutes to see if golden brown. Turn, cover the skillet with a lid (this helps ensure the cheese will melt evenly), and cook until the second side is also golden brown.
  6. Cut the grilled cheese into even squares, in half, or leave whole. Serve immediately.