Creamy tomato soup is the perfect cold weather soup, especially when you're busy because it can be made in less than 30 minutes and only has a few ingredients. This easy tomato bisque is made from canned tomatoes (San Marzano) and is the best partner to Parmesan Crusted Grilled Cheese or a great salad.
It began with Nordstrom's tomato soup
Back our newlywed days, hubby and I would saunter through Nordstrom and invariably stop in the cafe for a bowl of their creamy tomato bisque. I don't know if it was the company or the locale, but their creamy tomato soup had me at hello.
And then a friend shared what I think is the best tomato soup recipe and this version of it has sat beside my grilled cheese sandwich ever since.
Tomato soup vs. tomato bisque
I keep calling it tomato soup but really, this recipe is for tomato bisque despite not being made with seafood.
The word bisque historically was designated for soups made from seafood but it has evolved over time to include vegetable based cream soups.
And a bisque is typically pureed or strained to make it ultra-smooth. You can choose to make it smooth or leave it as is (which I prefer as you'll see below).
Ingredients you'll need
One of the great things about this creamy soup recipe is that you only need like 5 ingredients to make it and you can be eating it in 30 minutes.
One of the other favorite things about this delicious soup is its ability to confuse anybody I serve it to.
Here are a few ingredients that catapult this creamy tomato bisque to Flavortown:
- Canned tomatoes. I'm kind of obsessed with good quality authentic canned tomatoes from San Marzano. You can use fresh too! Either way, promise me you won't skimp here. The tomatoes are the star of the whole shebang!
- White wine. It's THE secret ingredient and takes this easy tomato soup to the next level. And if you don't puree it, you'll bite into these tiny nuggets of onion kissed with subtle, rich flavor.
- Fresh basil. Please, please, please...if possible, use fresh basil. You won't regret the bright flavor it adds. And learn my easy tips for cutting basil.
A gluten-free bread for soup
I used to buy bread bowls to serve this easy tomato soup (which my kiddos loved). Now with everyone being a little more carb-conscious, I came up with these little Parmesan Crisps as an alternative. The simple steps are in the recipe.
Step by step instructions
- Saute the chopped onions in the butter over medium heat until they are translucent and then add the garlic just until the scent releases - about 30 seconds. Making the soup in a 5-6 quart dutch oven or large saucepan works best as it gives you a wider surface for the onions to cook.
- Carefully, pour in the wine and let the onions and wine come together for about 3 -5 minutes until the alcohol burns off.
- Add the tomatoes to the pot. I prefer to use whole tomatoes that I first puree in the blender. I like a chunkier soup but you can make it as smooth as you like.
- Next, add the salt and black pepper. Taste for the seasoning - sometimes I add a little bit of sugar if the tomatoes need it. Just make sure to always taste your food as your cooking. You'll know when it's right for you and your family.
- Cook the soup to marry the flavors. If you are making the soup in advance, which you totally can, stop at this point, let it cool and refrigerate it for up to 24 hours. You also can blend the soup at this point for a smoother texture if you prefer.
Before serving, add the cream to the soup and correct the seasoning once more. Typically, I use half and half as I find heavy cream too heavy. At the last minute, add the basil and be sure to crown each bowl with a Parmesan Crisp. Or just eat the Parmesan Crisp between slurps of soup. I won't judge.
How to safely puree hot soup in a regular blender
- Carefully ladle or pour the hot soup into the blender container.
- Put the lid on the container and remove the center "plug".
- Cover the open hole with a folded up dish towel (this insures you won't get burned but also allows the steam to escape).
- Confirm that the blender is set on the lowest setting and carefully turn on the blender to puree the hot soup. You can slowly raise the blender speed and puree the creamy soup to your texture preference.
Make it a Soup Party
Make this simple tomato bisque along with two of my other soup recipes for a soup party or festive "night before" holiday meal!
Make Ahead. This cream of tomato soup is best made the day before you plan to serve it. The next day, heat it in a saucepan over medium heat until warmed through.
How to adjust the recipe. First, this recipe can be doubled easily. More than that gets a little tricky so I suggest just doubling it. I have quadrupled it but felt some of the taste was sacrificed. Let me know if you try it and have any suggestions.
For a few: Make the recipe as is and serve in bread bowls or with a salad for a cozy dinner.
For a crowd: Serve as shooters for an appetizer and top with mini Parmesan Crisp or garnished with a little crispy prosciutto and some extra chopped basil.
What can I substitute for the half and half?
If you prefer a non-dairy milk, I have made this tomato soup with unsweetened cashew milk to rave reviews. And none of my guests suspected the substitution!
I've seen some recipes call for coconut milk but I haven't tried it.
How long does tomato soup last in the fridge?
3-4 days in a sealed, airtight container.
Can I omit the white wine all together?
While I haven't experimented with this technique, you could try substituting the white wine with an equal amount of chicken broth or vegetable stock along with a splash of white vinegar in the same cooking step.
Made this recipe?
I'd love it if you'd share your review and leave a star rating and comment!
For the Tomato Soup
- 1 cup white onion , chopped finely
- ½ cup butter
- ½ cup white wine, cheap is good!
- 1-2 teaspoon minced garlic
- 1 28 oz can whole Italian tomatoes, San Marzano preferred
- 1 cup half and half, can use whipping cream or light cream
- 1 ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon pepper
- ½ cup chopped fresh basil
For the Parmesan Cheese Crisps
- 1 package Trader Joe's Quattro Formaggi shredded cheese, or any combo of Parmesan, romano or any hard shredded cheese
For the Tomato Soup
- In a 3-5 quart dutch oven, saute onion in butter on medium until translucent for about 5 minutes. Add garlic and saute for about 30 seconds until you can smell it.1 cup white onion, ½ cup butter, 1-2 teaspoon minced garlic
- Add the white wine and cook until the wine has reduced in half, about 3-5 minutes.½ cup white wine
- Meanwhile, puree tomatoes to desired consistency or if using, tomato puree skip this step.1 28 oz can whole Italian tomatoes
- Add tomatoes, salt and pepper to wine mixture and cook for 15 minutes. Can be made to this point and refrigerated for up to 24 hours.1 ¼ teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon pepper
- If bringing from the refrigerator, heat until warm and slowly add the cream, stirring as you add it. Once completely heated, correct for seasoning and stir in the basil right before serving.1 cup half and half, ½ cup chopped fresh basil
For the Parmesan Cheese Crisps
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.Using a tablespoon, lightly and evenly sprinkle cheese in a 3” circle on the parchment paper. You should get 3 circles across.Make sure the cheese isn’t piled or clumped together but loosely spread. It’s ok if there are small holes.
- Once you have filled up the cookie sheet, bake the crisps for 5 minutes checking at around the 3 minute mark. You want the edges to be a golden brown.
- Cool for about 1 minute and while they’re cooling, get a butter knife or long metal icing spatula and a rolling pin.
- One at at time, gently slide the knife or spatula under the crisp and lift it off the parchment paper and lay it over the rolling pin so that it bends to the shape of the rolling pin. (My rolling pin is approximately 2” in diameter so if yours is bigger, make your crisps bigger.)
- Let the crisps set for a minute or so and remove to a cooling rack until they harden. Repeat with all the crisps. You can line your rolling pin with a few at a time.