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Easy Homemade Creamy Tomato Basil Soup (First Watch Copycat)

This creamy tomato basil soup recipe is a total copycat of my favorite soup at First Watch! Ready to serve in under 30 minutes and just perfect paired with a hot and melty classic grilled cheese sandwich…

creamy tomato basil soup in a blue and white bowl with and antique silver spoon

Creamy Tomato Basil Soup

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 to me for lunch. I was always considered a “good eater,” but it was one of the few foods that I steadfastly refused to eat.

Fast forward about 20 years to a first time 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 was never been tomato soup itself that I hated! It’s that icky canned condensed blob of tomato-like substance that my dad always prepared that I despised.

Now? I’m a HUGE fan of tomato soup — or at least this version. As with so many of my other favorite restaurant recipes, I set out to recreate that lovely creamy tomato basil soup at home. After a few tries, I’m pretty sure I nailed it with this homemade creamy tomato basil soup recipe!

This copycat tomato basil soup has totally become my favorite comfort food. And surprisingly (or maybe not), it’s actually also become a family favorite.

homemade tomato basil soup in a blue and white bowl garnished with fresh basil

Best Tomato Basil Soup Recipe Ever

A few things that make this (in my opinion) the BEST tomato soup recipe ever (or at least the very best homemade tomato basil soup recipe)…

1| It starts with canned whole tomatoes. Surprised? I love fresh tomatoes as much as the next person, but making tomato basil soup with canned canned San Marzano tomatoes gives you more consistency in flavor from batch to batch. It also makes this a super easy and convenient recipe to prepare year round.

Plus canned tomatoes actually rival fresh tomatoes when it comes to best flavor, because they’re harvested and packed at the peak of ripeness and freshness!

2| The addition of tomato paste adds more depth of flavor. Adding a couple of tablespoons of tomato paste (not tomato sauce) really intensifies the tomato-y taste of this rich soup and balances out the acidity of the tomatoes, especially when you add it while sautéing the aromatics. It’s my secret ingredient and really makes a huge difference!

3| Fresh basil adds brightness. But if tomato and basil soup 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 fresh herbs you have on hand!

4| There’s just enough cream. While this IS a cream of tomato basil soup, we don’t have to be super heavy handed with the cream. Using just 1/2 cup of heavy whipping cream is enough to add rich flavor and creamy texture 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, and if you want to lighten this creamy tomato soup up a bit, you can totally just use milk.

how to make tomato basil soup with fresh basil and canned tomatoes

How To Make Tomato Basil Soup

If you’re a fan of easy recipes (and who isn’t?!), you seriously won’t believe just how simple this great tomato soup is to prepare. It *really* doesn’t take much longer than heating up the canned stuff in a soup pot, which we’ve already established is decidedly NOT good stuff.

I promise you this tomato basil soup tastes a gazillion times better! And I’m hoping it becomes one of your favorite soup recipes, too.

Did I mention that this easy tomato soup can be ready to serve in under 30 minutes? It’s true!! We’re talking a mere 5 minutes of prep time, and then roughly 25 minutes of cook time.

1| Start by sautéing onions and garlic in butter in a large pot over medium heat until translucent. Stir in the tomato paste and cook while stirring until it starts to brown.

2| Pour in the chicken stock and scrape the bottom of the pot with a wooden spatula or remove any caramelized brown bits.

3| Add both cans of tomatoes, including the juice, and bring to a boil. Reduce to a lower heat and simmer for 10 minutes.

4| 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.

5| After mixture is pureed, add in basil and pulse a few times to incorporate. Then whisk in the heavy cream and season with additional salt and pepper to taste.

Pretty effortless, huh? At this point this cream of tomato soup is ready to serve. My favorite way to serve it is with a drizzle of olive oil, a generous amount of freshly ground black pepper, and occasionally, a good grating of Parmesan cheese.

If your personal preference is a spicier tomato soup, a sprinkling of red pepper flakes would be amazing, as well!

BTW, we love our tomato soup with a delicious ooey-gooey and melty grilled cheese sandwich on the side. Be sure to read after the recipe for my absolute all-time favorite kitchen hack for making grilled cheese sandwiches…

easy tomato basil soup served with grilled cheese

Pureeing Hot Homemade Tomato Basil Soup

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 soup, like this homemade tomato 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 regular blender or food processor. Please, please, PLEASE, just make sure to let the soup cool slightly and puree in small batches with plenty of headspace in your blending container.

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 VERY hard way as a newlywed.

Now let’s make some homemade tomato soup!!

creamy tomato basil soup recipe garnished with cream and fresh basil

Creamy Tomato Basil Soup

Yield: 10 servings
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes

This creamy tomato basil soup recipe is a total copycat of my favorite soup at First Watch! Ready to serve in under 30 minutes and just perfect paired with a hot and melty classic grilled cheese sandwich...

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. In a Dutch 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.
  2. Pour in the chicken stock and scrape the bottom of the pot with a wooden spatula or spoon to remove any caramelized brown bits.
  3. Add both cans of tomatoes, including juice, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes.
  4. 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.
  5. After mixture is pureed, add in basil and pulse a few times to incorporate. Then whisk in heavy cream and season with additional salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.

Notes

Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days or freeze for up to 3 months. Allow frozen tomato soup to thaw in the refrigerator before reheating. Reheat in a large saucepan over medium-low heat until warmed through.

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Nutrition Information:
Yield: 10 Serving Size: 1 cup
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 134Total Fat: 9.3gSaturated Fat: 5.7gCholesterol: 28.7mgSodium: 454.3mgCarbohydrates: 10.2gFiber: 3.2gSugar: 7gProtein: 2.4g

Nutritional information is based on third-party calculations and should be considered estimates. Actual nutritional content will vary with brands used, measuring methods, portion sizes and more.

Have you tried this recipe?

Leave a comment below and share a photo on Instagram. Tag it @unsophisticook and hashtag it #unsophisticook!

oven baked grilled cheese sliced on crinkled parchment paper

What To Serve With Tomato Basil Soup?

Hot and fresh grilled cheese sandwiches are a no brainer pairing for this easy tomato basil soup.

Check out this brilliant baking sheet pan grilled cheese in the oven technique for making multiple grilled cheeses all at once in the oven while your soup is simmering away! SO EASY — you’ll never make grilled cheese on your stovetop again…

Other good options are this homemade quick & easy garlic bread recipe and/or this Italian chopped salad.

I’d love to see how your creamy tomato basil soup turns out… Tag me @Unsophisticook on Instagram or use the hashtag #Unsophisticook so I can check it out. Enjoy!

R.K,

Wednesday 6th of July 2022

Dutch oven is unnecessary. Sauté the onions in a good sauté pan, de-glaze with either lemon juice or white wine. Add the stock, and then the paste.

MaryAnn

Sunday 26th of June 2022

Tried it Big son and adult grandson loved it Me too

Leanna

Saturday 23rd of October 2021

Is there a specific type of onion you recommend? Red, white, yellow? Thanks!

Mary DeVogel

Monday 11th of April 2022

@Tara Kuczykowski,

Can I use crushed tomatoes to bypass the blender?

Tara Kuczykowski

Tuesday 26th of October 2021

Hey Leanna -- I typically just use a regular yellow onion!

Sharon Vigorito

Sunday 10th of January 2021

Hi Tara. I tried this recipe as my husband drools over First Watch tomato basil soup. The first time he said it was good, but something was missing. So, I tried again and added a little oregano and thyme. He still says something is missing. I found a copycat for Applebee’s that adds sugar. I’m going to try that next time. But, no mistake, it’s a great recipe and thank you for posting it.

Tara Kuczykowski

Sunday 10th of January 2021

Thanks for the feedback, Sharon! It's been a *very* long time since I've had First Watch's version, so I feel like I need to pick some up and compare them again now, LOL. Either way, I'm so glad you enjoyed it.

wilhelmina

Wednesday 30th of October 2019

This soup was the perfect thing to have for lunch on a dreary cold day yesterday. It came together in a snap and was SO delicious. Great recipe!

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