Use fresh or canned tomatoes for this creamy tomato soup recipe with basil, cream, and lots of flavor.
Even though both of my parents worked full time, my grandmother was a dedicated homemaker with three kids and a tidy house and garden. I always saw myself as a career girl, and by the time I realized that wasn’t what I wanted after all, it was too late to get advice from her. She was famous in our family for her tomato soup. It was creamy and spiked with lots of freshly ground black pepper and basil. A few years after she moved out of her house, she somehow revealed that her famous recipe was just canned soup with cream and seasonings added.
A lot of people hate Campbell’s tomato soup, but I actually think it’s pretty good when you add cream, basil, and black pepper. But when you have approximately ten million tomatoes in your garden, it seems silly to buy it. So I worked on a recipe that could use fresh or canned tomatoes and be made without a lot of fuss. (You can easily substitute fresh tomatoes for canned, and vice versa, almost always. This article is very helpful if you get stuck.)
As it turns out, this homemade tomato soup is way, way better than canned tomato soup. The roasting adds an extra layer of flavor, and the shallot and crushed red pepper take it way beyond the simple sweetness of canned soup. I wish I could have made some for her.
On cold weekends, I serve this often for lunch with grilled cheese sandwiches made on sourdough sandwich bread. Simple, and something even the kids will love.
Step by step creamy tomato soup:
We begin by preparing our tomatoes and roasting them. Preheat the oven to 425 and set the tomatoes on a foil lined baking sheet. If you’re using fresh, just cut them in half and scoop out the center with all the seeds. Don’t worry about the skins. To bring out the sweetness of the tomatoes, sprinkle 2 tablespoons of brown sugar on top. Then bake them for 30 minutes. They will have just started to turn color. When they are done, remove them from the foil and set aside.
Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, heat ½ a stick of butter and add 4 minced shallots. (if you don’t have any shallot, you can use a small onion and 2 cloves of garlic.) Cook them on low until they have softened, about 7 minutes. Then add 1 (8 ounce) can of tomato paste, a pinch of nutmeg and stir until everything is combined and heated through.
Next we add the liquid. Slowly add in 2 cups of chicken broth, stirring as you pour. Add the 3 cups of water, still stirring. And now the roasted tomatoes. Bring to a boil, and then reduce heat, cover the pot and simmer on low for about 10 minute, stirring occasionally.
To blend the tomatoes into a smooth soup, use either an immersion blender right in the pot, or if you don’t have one, carefully transfer into a food processor and blend.
Once the soup is smooth, add the cream, sherry, salt, pepper, and cayenne and heat again, about 15 minutes on low, until it is piping hot. Taste for seasoning, divide into four bowls and top with fresh basil.
What to serve with this
- Grilled cheese. Obviously. If you want to make it more filling just add ham, and candied jalapeños for something extra special.
- Soup, salad, and any homemade bread are also a classic combination.
- In the non-obvious category, tomato soup can be served as a side dish or starter course for any main dish. Roast chicken, pork chops, or really any classic American dish can be paired with tomato soup.
Can you make tomato soup ahead of time and freeze?
Once you add cream to something, don’t freeze it. But you could absolutely make this soup through step 5, then freeze it. The best way to freeze soup is to fill gallon sized freezer bags, lay them flat on a baking sheet, and once they have formed a flat frozen block, stack them up in the freezer. Make sure you add a note to the container to add the cream and seasonings before serving.
This doesn’t make a huge batch, so if I want some to freeze, I double the recipe and freeze half. You will need an extra baking sheet for the extra tomatoes.
Here’s the printable recipe:
Homemade Creamy Tomato Soup Recipe
- 2 28 ounce cans whole tomatoes (or 20 small fresh tomatoes) cut in half, seeds mostly removed
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 4 tablespoons half stick unsalted butter
- 4 large shallots finely chopped
- 1 8 ounce can tomato paste
- Pinch nutmeg
- 2 cups chicken broth
- 3 cups water
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 3 tablespoons cooking sherry
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- pinch cayenne pepper optional
- Preheat the oven to 425 and prepare a baking sheet by lining it with aluminum foil.
- Place tomatoes on the baking sheet, sprinkle the brown sugar on top, and roast for 30 minutes, until they look shriveled and the edges are starting to brown. When they are done, allow them to cool slightly and then remove from the foil and set aside.
- Heat the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat until it foams, then add the nutmeg and shallot and cook until softened, about 7 minutes. Add the tomato paste and stir to combine. Heat again until mixture is hot.
- Pour in the chicken broth and water slowly, whisking to combine. Add the roasted tomatoes back into the soup. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 10 minutes.
- Puree the soup right in the pot using an immersion blender, or puree in batches in the food processor (b.e careful not to splash yourself)
- Add the cream, sherry, salt, pepper, and cayenne (if using), and heat for 15 minutes more. Serve in bowls, topped with fresh basil.
I hope you enjoy this recipe!