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Not Your Regular Daycare Special - Mushroom Grilled Cheese with Homemade Tomato Soup.

There is so much coziness and comfort in grilled cheese and tomato soup! Unless you spent a lot of time in a daycare. When I was in university, I worked at a daycare during the day, in between my classes. Each day, I would enter the daycare and the smell of No Name brand canned tomato soup and processed grilled cheese would enter my nose and cause me to shiver a little (it didn't help that it was mixed with the smell of soiled diapers and strong disinfectants). Mac and cheese mixed with hotdogs was another weekly special that caused this effect. Needless to say, I stayed away from these items for many years because the nauseating smell would bring me back.

I now feel I have had a sufficient amount of time away from these items and am ready to reinvent and hopefully enjoy :)

So, here is a different spin on this daycare classic that can be made vegetarian or vegan:

Tomato Soup

2 tbsp butter or vegan butter

1 1/2 tbsp flour

1 large can of San Marzano tomatoes or Italian tomatoes

1 can or 1 1/2 cups of tomato sauce

1 cup of broth (I love mushroom broth! It has so much flavour)

2 tbsp tomato paste

1 large bunch of fresh basil

4-5 leaves of fresh sage

Salt and pepper

Starting with a roux (melted butter mixed with flour) mix until it begins to thicken. Add your broth and stir until everything is blended nicely. Next, I like to add my tomatoes, tomato sauce, and tomato paste to the blender until it is totally smooth with no chunks (for more veggies, add spinach or kale to this mixture). Once the broth and roux are bubbling, add the tomato mixture, and put on medium heat. Using a small piece of thread or string, tie the bundle of basil and sage leaves together and throw them in the pot. After about 5 mins, turn the heat to low and let simmer while you prepare the other elements in this dish. The longer you let the elements sit together on low heat, the more flavourful the soup will be. Add salt and pepper if you like when serving.

*Using tongs, make sure you remove the herb bundle before serving*

Whole Wheat Sourdough Bread *You may want to prepare this earlier in the day*

1/4 sourdough starter (if you don't have a starter just skip this step)

2 1/4 tbsp dry yeast

1 tbsp sugar

1 cup water

2 - 2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour

1 tsp sea salt

2 tbsp olive oil

Follow the instructions below....or just go buy bread haha

Add sourdough starter to the mixing bowl (if you don't have any, add the yeast at this time instead), along with water, oil, and sugar. Mix together until sugar is dissolved. Add the flour, yeast, and salt and mix on medium for about 4 mins. Cover with a tea towel and place in dark area for 1 hour to rise. Once the dough has doubled in size, lay it out on the counter and knead lightly. Shape the dough into a log and place in a bread pan. Put 3 score marks on the loaf, and place in a dutch oven with about 1-2 inches of water in the bottom of the dutch oven (this will make a crispy crust). Put the lid on and let rise for another 45 mins. Bake at 400ºF for 20 mins with the lid on the dutch oven and then for another 10-12 mins with the lid off.

Mushroom Grilled Cheese Filler

2 cloves of garlic

1/2 yellow onion

1 cup spinach or baby Kale

3 cups of a mixture of different mushrooms (cremini, oyster, shiitake)

1/4 cup of Ponzu sauce

3-4 dashes of Worchestershire sauce

Chop garlic and onions finely and saute (at medium heat) in a pan with olive oil for 6-8mins. Add your mixture of mushrooms and saute for another 5 min before adding spinach. Add ponzu sauce and Worchestershire sauce and turn on low for another 5-10 mins.

Brined Cabbage

Cabbage Slaw

1 1/2 cups green cabbage

3 stalks of celery

2 green onions

1/3 cup of fresh dill

Chop cabbage and celery (length-wise) and finely chop the onions and dill and add to a bowl. Add salt and pepper to taste.


1 cup water

1/2 cup white vinegar

2 tbsp white sugar

1 tbsp mustard seeds

1 tsp corriander seeds

1 tsp celery seeds

dash of Salt and pepper

5 ice cubes

Add all ingredients to a pot and bring to a boil for 5 mins. Remove from heat and stir in ice cubes. Once slightly cooled, add the brine to the cabbage slaw and place in the fridge for 10-15 mins.

Mushroom Grilled Cheese

mushroom filling

2 slices of bread (per sandwich)

cheese of your choice (regular or plant-based)

brined cabbage slaw

regular or plant-based butter

Butter each side of the bread and place in a frying pan on medium heat. Add an equal amount of cheese to each piece of bread and let melt for 5 mins (having cheese on both sides will help hold the sandwich together better). To one side of the sandwich add some mushroom filling and a small amount of brined cabbage (try to avoid adding too much of the mustard and coriander seeds, as they are very potent when bitten into). Place the other side of the sandwich on top and weigh down with a sandwich press for 2-3 mins. Flip sandwich and place press on the other side for another 2-3 mins (this will melt the cheese further). Cut in half...or don't and serve alongside your tomato soup!

This may have cured me of my horrid memories from long ago! Good-bye, daycare special, and hello, fancy (much better smelling and tasting) new version of the once detested dish haha.


Love, Picky Plate

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