Growing up I hated tomato soup — like wouldn’t touch it with my spoon tied to a 10-foot pole, hated it. Believe me, my dad tried on numerous occasions to serve it for lunch. I was always a “good eater,” but it was one of the few foods that I steadfastly refused to eat.
Fast forward about 20 years to a random lunch with my hubby at First Watch. I decided to take a little taste of his cup of tomato basil soup, and I had a revelation… It’s never been tomato soup itself that I hated! It’s that icky canned condensed blob of tomato-like substance that my dad always tried to serve that I despised.
So as with so many of my other favorite restaurant recipes, I set out to recreate that lovely creamy tomato basil soup at home. I like to think this recipe comes pretty darn close!
The Best Tomato Soup Ever
A few things that make this (in my opinion) the BEST tomato soup ever…
1. It starts with canned tomatoes. Surprised? I like fresh tomatoes as much as the next person, but using canned whole tomatoes gives you more consistency in flavor from batch to batch, while also making this a super easy and convenient recipe to prepare year round. Plus canned veggies actually rival fresh veggies when it comes to nutrients because they’re harvested and packed at the peak of ripeness and freshness!
2. The addition of tomato paste gives more depth of flavor. Adding a couple of tablespoons of tomato paste really intensifies the tomato-y taste of this soup, especially when you add it at the end of sautéing the aromatics.
3. Fresh basil adds brightness. But if basil isn’t your thing, feel free to switch it up. Rosemary, thyme, parsley, and chives are also fabulous choices. It’s a great way to use up whatever you have on hand!
4. There’s just enough cream. Using just 1/2 cup of heavy cream is enough to add richness to the soup without adding a ton of extra calories. I think it’s the best of both worlds! Sometimes I’ll swap it for crème fraîche for a change of pace.
You seriously won’t believe just how easy it is to prepare. It really doesn’t take much longer than heating up the canned stuff, and I promise you it tastes a gazillion times better! Just 10 minutes of simmering after sautéing the onion and garlic, puree, and serve — preferably with a hot and melty grilled cheese sandwich on the side.
Creamy Tomato Basil Soup
Yield 8 servings
This creamy tomato basil soup recipe is a total copycat of my favorite soup at First Watch! Perfect paired with a hot and fresh classic grilled cheese sandwich…
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 2 cups chopped onion
- 4 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 2 (28 oz.) cans whole tomatoes
- 3 cups chicken stock
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- additional salt & pepper, to taste
- In a French oven, sauté onions and garlic in butter over medium heat until translucent. Stir in tomato paste and cook while stirring until it starts to brown.
- Pour in the chicken stock and scrape the bottom of the pot with a wooden spatula or spoon to remove any caramelized brown bits.
- Add both cans of tomatoes, including juice, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes.
- Use an immersion blender to puree the soup right in the pot, or transfer the tomato mixture in batches to blender or food processor to process.
- After mixture is pureed, add in basil and pulse a few times to incorporate. Then whisk in heavy cream and add additional salt and pepper to taste.
Store leftovers in the fridge for up to 5 days or freeze for up to 3 months.
Ingredients and products I recommend for preparing this recipe:
A quick note about pureeing hot soups
I’m not big on having a multitude of kitchen gadgets, but one that I can’t live without is this immersion blender. It makes pureeing hot soups, like this tomato basil soup, a total cinch, and it cleans up like a dream. If you’re looking for a more budget-friendly option, I’ve heard this Cuisinart model is very good, as well.
If you don’t have an immersion blender, you can always drag out your blender or food processor. Please, please, PLEASE, just make sure to puree in small batches with plenty of headspace. Hot liquids expand, and I’m hoping to save you all from spending hours cleaning tomato soup off of your walls, cabinets, ceiling, and every other possible kitchen surface — a lesson I learned the hard way as a newlywed.
P.S. Check out this brilliant sheet pan grilled cheese in the oven technique to make multiple grilled cheeses at once in the oven while your soup is simmering!
Updated from the archives — originally posted in October 20127