Every cook needs a good tomato soup recipe in their arsenal. My recipe for Creamy Homemade Tomato Soup is truly comfort in a bowl, perfect for lunchbox thermoses or an easy and nourishing light dinner.
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I have two women to thank for inspiring my career in food media: the legendary Ina Garten and the equally legendary woman whom I call Mom. Both are superstars in my world, and both instilled a love of entertaining and cooking, especially for comfort.
No matter the season, Creamy Homemade Tomato Soup has become a comforting favorite at our house.
My love affair with tomato soup actually began when I was an intern at Food Network. The office was in Chelsea Market in New York City, and on the bottom floor was an iconic hole-in-the-wall bakery called Sarabeth’s. Famous for her jams and jellies, Sarabeth is a culinary icon.
While I’d rank her English muffins and strawberry jam at the top of my NYC’s Best Eats list, what really drew me to her storefront time and time again was the creamy tomato soup. Couple Sarabeth as the original soup-spiration and Ina Garten on the top-rated recipe front, and we have a match made in culinary heaven.
My spin uses canned tomatoes instead of fresh, San Marzano to be exact! The result is an intensely tomato-flavored and seriously silky soup ready to be topped with a drizzle of my mom Noni’s famous basil pesto. That’s three rockstar women inspiring one tried-and-tested family favorite recipe!
Why You’ll Love This Recipe
- Makes enough for two meals. You’ll have enough for dinner, plus leftovers to pack for lunch the next day.
- Healthier than canned. Canned soup tends to have a lot of sodium, but homemade soup has far less, especially if you use low-sodium chicken stock.
- Kid-approved. What kid doesn’t love tomato soup? Pair it with grilled cheese sandwiches for the ultimate kid-friendly meal.
- Make-ahead friendly. Whip up a batch of this soup on the weekend and you’ll have a quick dinner for a busy school night.
- Olive oil: Use extra-virgin olive oil to sauté the veggies and add richness.
- Red onion: I like red onions in this recipe, for their sharp flavor and jammy texture when sauteed.
- Carrots: A handful of diced carrots adds bulk and earthiness to this recipe.
- Garlic: Like the onions and carrots, this is another aromatic ingredient to add depth of flavor to the soup.
- Canned tomatoes: San Marzano tomatoes are grown in volcanic soil and have a sweeter, less acidic flavor than other varieties. Look for a can that has a certification on the label to know you’re getting the real deal. The recipe also calls for a dollop of tomato paste to intensify the rich tomato flavor.
- Sugar: A tiny bit of granulated sugar balances the acidity of the tomatoes.
- Basil: Basil and tomato is a classic flavor combo. This recipe uses the fresh herb simmered in the soup and as a garnish with a drizzle of pesto and a sprinkling of shredded leaves.
- Chicken stock: Chicken stock is a neutral, versatile base for any soup (It also is one of the ingredients in my Quick Cauliflower Soup). You can use a carton of stock, mix up a batch with a stock concentrate like Better than Bouillon, or use homemade stock.
- Heavy cream: A generous pour of cream whisked into the pureed soup at the very end is the key to a rich, creamy soup.
- Basil pesto: The bright flavor of pesto is a great finishing touch. Make a batch of my basil pesto recipe (you can toss it with hot pasta for tomorrow’s dinner) or use a store-bought version.
See the recipe card for full information on ingredients and quantities.
Consider this tomato soup recipe a great starting point so you can tweak it according to your preferences and what you have on hand. Here are a few options.
- Make it vegetarian! For a vegetarian version, you can substitute vegetable stock or vegetarian chicken-flavored stock.
- Can’t find San Marzano tomatoes? You can use regular diced tomatoes instead, but looking for the imported Italian version is well worth the effort for that intense tomato flavor!
- Get creative with toppings. Float a slice of cheese toast on the soup. Or set out a bowl of croutons or oyster crackers for people to sprinkle onto their bowls.
Making this tomato soup is easy and most of the cooking time is hands-off, leaving you time to whip up a quick salad or bake some cornbread to go with it.
- Sauté the veggies. Heat the olive oil in a large heavy-bottomed stock pot over medium heat. Add the onions and carrots and cook until the onions are translucent and the carrots are tender. Add the garlic and cook, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes. Make sure it doesn’t burn!
- Add the tomatoes and other ingredients. Stir in the canned tomatoes, sugar, tomato paste, basil and chicken stock.
- Simmer the soup. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to maintain a simmer. Cook the soup, uncovered, for 30 minutes, allowing all the flavors to develop and meld together.
- Blend. Working in batches to avoid overfilling, transfer the soup into a blender or a food processor and blend until creamy (make sure to vent the blender lid to allow steam to escape!). Return the soup to the pot and whisk in the heavy cream.
- Heat and serve. Cook the soup over medium-low heat just until it’s warmed through. Give it a taste and season it to taste with salt, pepper and more sugar, if needed. Serve the soup in bowls and garnish with a drizzle of basil pesto and a sprinkling of basil leaves.
Pro Tip: To cut the basil leaves into pretty ribbons for the garnish, stack a few large leaves and roll them up tightly to make a log. Use a knife to slice the log crosswise, yielding thin strips of basil.
- Use the right pot: A large stockpot with a thick bottom or a Dutch oven is the best pot to use for making this and other soups. The thick base will help evenly distribute and retain heat so the soup can simmer without scorching.
- Make it vegetarian or vegan: This tomato soup contains chicken stock and cream, but you can make it vegetarian by using vegetable stock or vegetarian chicken-flavored stock. To make it vegan or dairy-free, use unflavored plant-based milk, such as soy milk, combined with a little olive oil to increase the richness. You can also use a nondairy half-and-half.
- Blend with care: To blend all of the soup without making a mess or burning yourself, I recommend pouring the pot of soup into a glass or metal mixing bowl with a pouring spout. Pour the soup into the blender until it’s filled about halfway, then blend the batch on medium speed with the lid slightly vented to prevent steam from escaping. Pour the blended soup back into the pot and refill the blender with another batch of soup from the bowl, until all of it is blended and returned to the pot.
- Get creative: Mealtime is more fun when food is served in a creative way. My kids love this soup sprinkled with my Baked Parmesan Garlic Pizza Dough Croutons or even just topped with a handful of oyster crackers. Serving the soup in a bread bowl is another fun serving suggestion — who doesn’t love a bowl you can eat?
Store cooled tomato soup in a lidded glass or plastic container in the refrigerator for three to four days.
To reheat, pour it into a saucepan and warm over medium heat, or microwave it in a bowl loosely topped with a lid or an inverted plate to avoid splatters, for 30-second increments until heated through.
You can also easily freeze tomato soup in a freezer-safe container or a resealable plastic freezer bag. Try to press as much air as possible out of the bag to prevent freezer burn. To reheat, thaw overnight in the refrigerator or thaw the soup in a covered saucepan over medium-low heat.
Frequently Asked Questions
Regular tomato soup does not contain cream or dairy products. It is not as rich and the tomato flavor is more pronounced. Creamy tomato soup contains a dairy product, such as heavy cream, to balance out the acidity of the tomatoes and to add richness and mouthfeel.
In this recipe, you can use half-and-half, evaporated milk or light cream for a soup that’s lower in fat. You can also substitute nondairy half-and-half or plant-based milk mixed with olive oil to make the soup dairy-free.
San Marzano tomatoes are only grown in a warm and sunny region in southern Italy, in rich volcanic soil. The growing conditions give the tomatoes a sweeter, less acidic flavor than other tomatoes, and they’re also meatier, with a more concentrated flavor. Try using them in Homemade Marinara Sauce.
My kids’ favorite accompaniment is grilled cheese sandwiches, preferably cut into strips so they can dip it into the soup. Other pairing ideas are tuna melts, a green salad, fritters (like 5-Ingredient Zucchini Fritters) or even just cheese and crackers.
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- 3 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 medium red onion, diced
- 2 medium carrots, peeled and diced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 3 (28-oz.) cans San Marzano diced tomatoes, drained
- 1 Tablespoon white sugar
- 1 Tablespoon tomato paste
- 1/4 cup packed fresh basil leaves, julienned, plus more for garnishing
- 3 cups chicken stock
- 3/4 cup heavy cream
- Basil pesto, for garnishing (optional)
- Add the olive oil to a large heavy-bottomed stock pot set over medium-low heat.
- Add the onions and carrots and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are transluscent and the carrots are fork-tender, 8 to 10 minutes.
- Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes.
- Stir in the tomatoes, sugar, tomato paste, basil and chicken stock.
- Bring the soup to a boil, then reduce it to a simmer and cook, uncovered, for 30 minutes.
- Carefully transfer a portion of the soup into a blender or food processor. Blend the soup in batches then return it to the pot. Whisk in the heavy cream.
- Cook the soup over medium-low heat until warmed throughout, then taste and season with salt, pepper and sugar, as desired. Serve the soup in bowls and garnish with a drizzle of basil pesto (optional).
- A large stockpot with a thick bottom or a Dutch oven is the best pot to use for making this and other soups. The thick base will help evenly distribute and retain heat so the soup can simmer without scorching.
- To make this vegan or dairy-free, use vegetable stock instead of chicken stock and nondairy half-and-half or unflavored plant-based milk, such as soy milk, combined with a little olive oil.
- Pour all the soup into a mixing bowl with a spout to make it easier to transfer batches of it into the blender. Then pour the soup from the blender back into the pot to warm it up.
- Get creative with presentation by passing bowls of croutons or oyster crackers for sprinkling, or by serving in a bread bowl.
- ★ Did you make this recipe? Don’t forget to give it a star rating below!
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Recipe adapted from Ina Garten.