Creamy Tomato-Basil Soup

The more I work through some soup recipes the more I realize what strange little taste buds I had as a kid. It’s been meticulously documented that I was pretty much that kid that loved peanut butter and jelly more than just about anything. Sometimes more than life itself. If you wanted me to be happy, hand me peanut butter and grape jelly smashed between two pieces of white bread. But hey, I did eat the crusts. Gold star for me.Β  Like most kids, the only time I would have anything to do with fish or seafood was in the form of fish sticks. Yet, I was strangely addicted to New England Clam Chowder. So totally bizarre. And then there was the issue of tomatoes. You’d think that growing up in an Italian family with a grandfather who kept a garden most would die for today, with fresh tomatoes readily available, that I would like the darn things. Not a chance. God help you if you let even a fraction of an ounce of juice from a tomato touch something I was eating. I would refuse to eat it. It wasn’t up until just a few years ago that I’ve grown to appreciate a tomato (very thinly sliced, though) on a sandwich or burger. Yet somehow I gobbled up tomato soup as a kid and a teenager (even an adult) like it was going out of style. Flat-out loved it. Nothing better than a bowl of tomato soup with some shredded cheddar cheese sprinkled on top and a grilled cheese sandwich. I felt it was high-time that I got around to making a homemade version since, like all other soups, reading the label on the canned stuff makes you go, “Bleh!”

I saw this particular recipe recently on Tracey’s Culinary Adventures and loved it for two reasons: First, it came from Cook’s Illustrated, which is always my first stop when I’m looking for a new recipe or a no-fail version of a classic. Second, the soup gains its thick and creamy texture not from cream, but from adding pieces of bread to the soup. Genius! This method was also used in the Creamy Potato & Leek Soup that I made last year, which was also a huge hit.

I love the bright, clean flavor of tomatoes in this soup, as well as the tiny bit of kick that you get from the garlic and crushed red pepper. I also added some freshly ground black pepper right before serving as well for another little kick. It’s wonderful! The thick and creamy consistency makes it quite hearty and definitely enough for a meal with a handful of crackers or, of course, a grilled cheese sandwich.

One year ago: Chocolate & Peanut Butter Popcorn {Poppy Chow}
Two years ago: Espresso Ice Cream
Three years ago: Italian Walnut Pillow Cookies

Creamy Tomato-Basil Soup

Yield: 4 to 6 large servings

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 30 minutes


ΒΌ cup extra virgin olive oil, divided
1 medium onion, diced (about 1 cup)
3 garlic cloves, minced (about 1 tablespoon)
Pinch red pepper flakes
1 bay leaf
2 (28-ounce) cans whole tomatoes packed in juice
1 tablespoon brown sugar
3 large slices good-quality sandwich bread, crusts removed, torn into 1-inch pieces
2 cups chicken broth
ΒΌ cup chopped fresh basil


1. Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the onion, garlic, red pepper flakes and bay leaf. Cook, stirring frequently, until the onion is translucent, about 3-5 minutes. Mix in the tomatoes and their juice. Using a potato masher, mash the tomatoes to break them down into smaller pieces (no bigger than 2 inches). Stir in the sugar and bread then bring the soup to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally, until the bread is completely saturated and starts to break down, about 5 minutes. Remove the bay leaf.

2. Turn off the heat under the pot, add the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil and puree the soup with an immersion blender (or, if you don't have one, in a traditional blender - you'll probably want to do it in 2 or 3 batches. Split the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil over the batches as you puree.) You can strain the soup through a fine-mesh strainer if you want a perfectly smooth consistency. Stir the chicken broth into the soup and return the soup to a boil. Season to taste with salt and pepper and remove from heat. Stir in the basil and serve.

(Recipe adapted from Tracey's Culinary Adventures)


34 Responses to “Creamy Tomato-Basil Soup”

  1. Averie @ Love Veggies and Yoga on February 23, 2012 at 12:42 am

    I saw this on Tracey’s site too, and you both are making me want to make soup. Ironically, the only thing I actually enjoyed when I was pregnant and sick the whole time was Nordstrom’s Tomato Basil Soup. It gave me an excuse to go to Nordstom wayyyyy more than I should have. They have fabulous tomato basil soup if you’re ever “in the neighborhood” you can swing by πŸ™‚


  2. Donna on February 23, 2012 at 4:38 am

    So craving tomato soup at this time of year…any thoughts on creating the creaminess without dairy OR gluten grains? ..A “thickening” veggie..(cauliflower?/zucchini?) or buckwheat..rice…? Thanks for continued inspiration!


    • Karen on February 23rd, 2012 at 10:16 am

      I was just going to ask that! I was thinking GF bread but I don’t know how it would do. Byt you can’t have grains…we can. I would think Cauli before Zucchini. Z has too much water. And if you boil the heck out of the rice it makes a cereal so that would probably work. Any thoughts on the GF bread, anyone?


    • BeBe on January 22nd, 2014 at 5:58 pm

      I often like to use a potato (size depends on the amount of soup) or some white beans as thickeners. Both are mild in flavor, so the soup still tastes the same, and they add nutrients to the soup. Like you said, cauliflower works well too!


  3. Kiri W. on February 23, 2012 at 6:03 am

    Mmm, what a beautiful soup! I’ve always loved tomato soup, but had very particular tastes as a child, too. Donuts with mustard? Oh yeah.


  4. megan @ whatmegansmaking on February 23, 2012 at 7:07 am

    This looks great! I love tomato soup, but unfortunately my husband hates it. Maybe I’ll have to test this version on him!


  5. Blog is the New Black on February 23, 2012 at 8:04 am

    One of my favorite soups!


  6. Katrina on February 23, 2012 at 8:09 am

    So easy and yummy! Love it!


  7. Erin @ Brownie Bites on February 23, 2012 at 8:28 am

    Tomato basil is my very favorite soup! It is so warm and comforting – especially served up with a gooey grilled cheese sammich on the side!


  8. Brian on February 23, 2012 at 10:00 am

    I hadn’t eaten tomato soup all season… But this weekend I had it three times and enjoyed every spoon.

    This looks wonderful!


  9. Jennifer @ Peanut Butter and Peppers on February 23, 2012 at 10:02 am

    Looks fabolous! Tomato soup is one soup I could never get sick of, it’s a wonderful comfort food. Great recipe!!


  10. Lauren on February 23, 2012 at 10:04 am

    LOVE the simplicity of this soup. Tomato soup is one of my faves!!


  11. Living The Sweet Life on February 23, 2012 at 10:23 am

    I think i’m still that kid that loves peanut butter and grape jelly sandwiches more than life itself πŸ˜‰ – – but much like yourself, hand me a grilled cheese sandwich and a great tomato soup and I’ll savour it forever!!
    What a cool idea of using bread as a thickening agent in this soup ~ yum πŸ™‚


  12. Jendeis on February 23, 2012 at 11:04 am

    All three of the kids in my family hated raw tomatoes too! Loved tomato sauces and soups, but we absolutely hated them uncooked.


  13. Catalina @ Cake with Love on February 23, 2012 at 11:22 am

    Tomato and basil is one of my favorite combinations, this soup will be delicious with so grilled cheese on the side!


  14. CookingScraps on February 23, 2012 at 11:29 am

    I’ve stopped buying most processed foods; however, there are a few that are hard to find replacements for. Tomato soup is one of those, I haven’t been able to make a tomato soup that replaces the love I have for the canned stuff. This looks like it will fit the bill, thanks!


  15. Mireia on February 23, 2012 at 12:11 pm

    I’m pinning this right away! Thanks for sharing!!


  16. Carol on February 23, 2012 at 12:16 pm

    I still don’t care for tomatoes unless they are cooked so I love tomato based sauces and soups. I might have to try this one!


  17. sara on February 23, 2012 at 12:23 pm

    I don’t like raw tomatoes either but I adore tomato soup, and tomato-based pasta dishes (as long as there are no big chunks!) πŸ™‚

    I’ve been wanting a great recipe to try for homemade tomato soup, and this fits the bill. Thanks!


  18. Choc Chip Uru on February 23, 2012 at 12:51 pm

    This soup is perfection in a bowl πŸ˜€
    Tastes best with crusty bread – thanks!!!

    Choc Chip Uru
    Latest: 5 Min Wrap Pizza


  19. Shelly on February 23, 2012 at 2:23 pm

    Thank you for this post, today of all days! It is windy and freezing cold with a little bit of snow. Both kids have a cold and will love coming home to this with some super crusty grilled cheese sandwiches. I threw everything but the bread in the crock pot. I’ll put the bread in once the soup is nice and hot and let it soften and thicken. Thank you, thank you!


  20. Kristin on February 23, 2012 at 3:38 pm

    The soup looks great! I’m intrigued by this bread-thickening technique. I’ll have to try it soon! Also, I hated tomatoes as a kid, too, although I loved tomato sauce, tomato soup and ketchup. I still won’t eat a raw tomato, even though I like them pretty much every other way. I think it’s a texture issue.


  21. Tracey on February 23, 2012 at 4:13 pm

    Glad it was a hit for you!! I always loved tomatoes themselves growing up, but I wouldn’t have touched tomato soup (even from a can). How things change πŸ™‚


  22. Stellina @ My Yogurt Addiction on February 23, 2012 at 5:10 pm

    This looks incredible! I LOVE tomato soup, I am going to have to try to make this myself πŸ™‚


  23. Shannon on February 23, 2012 at 5:16 pm

    This soup look wonderful! Thanks for the tip of adding bread to the soup to thicken it. I’ll be making it soon!


  24. Kriss on February 23, 2012 at 10:07 pm

    This is amazing with Italian grilled cheese sandwiches….Italian bread, buttered as usual, sprinkled with garlic powder, basil….inside, any italian cheeses you want. I usually use mozzarella. I also put them all (6) on a cookie sheet at 450 degrees 3 minutes on each side. better use of your time that way!


  25. Misbah on February 24, 2012 at 5:56 am

    This looks so delicious and hearty.


  26. Ashley @ Wishes and Dishes on February 24, 2012 at 11:15 am

    I am the SAME way with tomatoes! It definitely is a texture thing πŸ™‚


  27. The Steaming Pot on February 25, 2012 at 4:29 am

    What a vibrant color! Love the addition of bread. For a vegetarian version, I suppose one could switch from chicken broth to vegetable broth without much change of taste? Will try it out!


  28. morri on February 28, 2012 at 3:17 pm

    I’ve always been on good terms with raw tomatoes, but tomato soup was pretty much my ultimate childhood dish.

    I made this one today, and let me tell you something that will come as totally no surprise: this soup is seriously awesome! I replaced the paprika flakes with chilli flakes, which gave the soup a nice, warming kick, perfect for a cold, wet late-February day. I also suspect that the recipe called for some sort of white bread, not an almost-pumpernickel home-made rye bread with walnuts, but I had to make do πŸ˜€ Pumpernickel or not, the soup thickened like it should – I really loved the consistency. And let me tell you another thing: my folks liked their dinner so much that they literally licked the bowls clean! Thanks for posting this.


  29. IsraeliBaker on November 5, 2012 at 1:41 pm

    Just out of curiosity, does it matter if the canned tomatoes are peeled or not?


    • Michelle on November 6th, 2012 at 3:07 pm

      I would use peeled tomatoes.


  30. Erika on February 5, 2013 at 10:54 pm

    I love your website, and you have such a wonderful collection of recipes. My only irk is that most comments are people saying how great it looks. So, I thought I’d give some feedback!
    I absolutely loved this recipe! It was very easy to throw together, and my boyfriend, a huge non-fan of tomato soup, loved it and was converted!


  31. Adriana on March 5, 2013 at 7:41 pm

    Just made this and it’s so easy and absolutely delicious! Love that there is no cream (I am allergic to dairy). I did take away one cup of chicken broth so that it was a little thicker. Yum! Yum!


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