Tomato Soup & Grilled Cheese (Inspired by Joni Mitchell)

Tomato soup with an apple-cheddar grilled cheese sandwich (recipe here)

Joni Mitchell will forever be one of my all-time favorite artists, and while there is always at least one song of hers that’s fitting for any given season or mood, I associate her most closely with fall and winter (and not only because of the song “River”). In “Urge for Going,” a song she wrote in 1966, she sings about the year’s first frost swallowing up the summer (“I awoke today and found the frost perched on the town/ It hovered in a frozen sky and it gobbled summer down”).

It’s sorta perfect for New York’s weather right now, since we’ve had small tastes of winter throughout the last couple weeks, and now we have what I expect is our final run of nice weather before winter swallows it up for good. And when that happens, I’ll want to crawl under my covers and escape. But since I won’t actually be able to do that (I’m going to Chicago next month; certainly not a warm-weather getaway), sitting at home with a warm bowl of soup and a grilled cheese sandwich will have to serve as my “escape” for now, or at least my way to make the weather more bearable. In college, my friend Julie and I would stop at The Dairy Store for lunch in between classes, which was particularly rewarding in the winter: On Mondays we could get a grilled cheese sandwich and tomato soup for just $2.10, and it instantly made us forget about the slush we had just trekked through.

This makes enough for probably about 10 bowls of soup… Bits and pieces of the recipe were taken from a few different places. I have to say this actually has sort of a tomato sauce-y texture to it; you could leave out the bread or add more veggie stock to make it a bit thinner, but I think it’s fine just like this.


Olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 (29 oz.) jars of whole plum tomatoes (you can also use diced tomatoes)
2 cups vegetable stock
5-10 basil leaves, sliced
2-3 slices sandwich bread, cut into small pieces
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese (optional)


• Saute onion and garlic over medium heat until onions are translucent, about 3-5 minutes.

• Pour tomatoes and their juices into a bowl; use a fork and knife or your hands to break up the tomatoes into smallish pieces (skip this if you’re using diced tomatoes). Add to the pot with the basil and cook for 5 minutes. Add veggie stock, and bring to a boil.

• Lower to a simmer and add the bread. Cook until the bread is mushy/falling apart.

• Remove soup from heat and let cool for a few minutes before pureeing with an immersion blender (or in batches in a food processor).

• Mix in Parmesan (optional).

• Serve with a grilled cheese sandwich! Mine had white cheddar and apple slices in it.


5 thoughts on “Tomato Soup & Grilled Cheese (Inspired by Joni Mitchell)

  1. Ohhh I do miss the Dairy Store. That soup looks amazing! I have never thought of adding bread… genius! If you have some extra time when you’re here in Chicago and want to grab some food or drinks, let me know…

    • Yeah, I saw a bunch of tomato soup recipes that used it — I don’t think I would’ve thought of it either! Dairy Store = the best. (P.S. Sent you a message re: Chicago!)

  2. Funny – I was completely snatched up by your soup and sandwich recipe that I wanted to reply to thank you for it when I noticed your affiliation with eMusic. I am now discovering that eMusic is the greatest thing since the sliced bread I am using to make the sand which!

    Thank you Laura!!

    And by the way – Joni’s “I wish I had a river… I would teach my feet to fly…” actually spoke so deeply into my soul that it helped to shape my current career as a full-time musician and song writer.

    • Ha! Thanks for the kind words re: the blog and eMusic! That song is so beautiful (and sad) — she’s the best.

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