Easy tomato basil soup that’s creamy and smooth with a generous amount of herbs for maximum flavor. Fresh tomatoes and garlic cloves are also roasted to concentrate the sweet and earthy notes. Each spoonful is a delight!
A big bowl of homemade tomato basil soup is a healthy and comforting appetizer. Whether you’re dipping hunks of crusty bread, melty grilled cheese, or just enjoying as is, the simplicity of the dish lets the flavors of the produce shine. If you’ve got a bounty of fresh tomatoes that you want to use up, this is the recipe for you.
To enhance the natural sweetness of the tomatoes, oven-roast them at high temperature. The intense heat concentrates the fruity flavors while developing some new richer ones. The tomatoes then simmer with onions and vegetable stock to meld the ingredients together.
Pureeing the soup until smooth creates a velvety texture without needing to add heavy cream! Top with crunchy croutons for a contrast of textures with each sip.
How to make tomato basil soup
- Preheat the oven to 400ºF (204ºC).
- Add sliced tomatoes and garlic to a baking sheet.
- Coat tomatoes with olive oil, while all cut-side up, season with salt and pepper, and top with thyme.
- Flip over half of the tomatoes to become skin-side up.
- Roast the tomatoes until lightly browned and most liquid has evaporated.
- Heat a large pot or dutch oven over medium heat.
- Melt butter, and saute onions and garlic.
- Add tomatoes, roasted garlic, bay leaf, and vegetable stock.
- Simmer soup until slightly reduced, 20 minutes.
- Puree with an immersion blender or blender until smooth and creamy.
- Salt and pepper to taste, top with fresh basil
You can use any type of tomato, just make sure they’re at their peak ripeness. I don’t use canned tomatoes because they’re usually peeled, and I prefer the skin to be intact which will elevate the taste once roasted. I use two varieties, Roma and Campari (cocktail is a tasty substitute).
Roma tomatoes have a slight sweetness and acidity with low water content, which is ideal for quickly concentrating its flavors during roasting. It makes up the majority of the soup. Campari tomatoes are smaller in size, juicy in texture with a balanced flavor that’s more robust. It adds depth to the mix.
Tomato preparation before roasting
Roasting tomatoes at high heat, 400 degrees, until the excess water dries off and the flavors concentrate is key. However, what’s even more important is the process in which they cook. The tomatoes are cut down the center, with half being roasted cut-side down and the rest cut-side up.
The tomatoes with the skin-side up develop a more browned surface (but not charred), which creates more toasted flavors. The tomatoes with the flesh-side up evaporate water faster and are better able to absorb the flavor from the olive oil and aromatics from the thyme. This technique provides the best of both worlds!
Creating a creamy texture without dairy
Heavy cream is often used in tomato soup at the very end to add a creamy texture. To mimic the consistency without cream, use a hand immersion blender to break down the ingredients into extremely small particles that will suspend in the vegetable stock. This action thickens the soup and makes it smooth.
For an ultra velvety soup, carefully process the tomatoes in a countertop blender in batches with the lid off (but covered with a towel) until a very fine texture is reached.
Storing and freezing
This soup can be stored in the refrigerator using an airtight container for up to 5 days. Make sure to cool the soup completely. Alternatively, the soup can be frozen in 1 cup portions then defrosted and reheated on the stovetop until warmed through. Since there is no cream in the recipe there’s no risk of the dairy separating and creating an undesirable texture.
What to serve this with
Adding garlic two-ways for more flavor!
Slow-roasting garlic with the tomatoes develops sweet, soft, and nutty flavors. Sauteing minced garlic with the vegetables adds stronger pungent aromatics to the base. Using the same ingredients but cooking them differently adds a wonderful depth to the soup.
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Tomato Basil Soup
- 3 pounds Roma tomatoes, cut in half lengthwise
- 1 pound Campari tomatoes, or cocktail, cut in half lengthwise
- 6 cloves garlic, peel removed and cut in half lengthwise
- ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 8 sprigs thyme
- 2 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 1 ½ cups diced yellow onions, ¼-inch dice
- 1 bay leaf
- 4 cups vegetable stock
- 1 cup basil leaves, packed, cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1 tablespoon chopped chives
- Set the oven rack to the center position and preheat to 400ºF (204ºC).
- Line a large baking sheet with foil and place all tomatoes cut-side up on the sheet.
- Evenly disperse the garlic amongst the tomatoes and drizzle ¼ cup of olive oil evenly over top.
- Sprinkle with 1 teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon pepper.
- Flip over half of the tomatoes so an even amount is cut-side up and skin-side up on the baking sheet.
- Place the thyme sprigs on top.
- Roast the tomatoes until lightly browned and slightly shriveled. Most of the liquid will evaporate, 55 to 60 minutes. Discard the thyme sprigs.
- Heat a large pot over medium heat.
- Add butter, once melted add garlic and saute until fragrant but not browned, 30 seconds.
- Add onions, saute until lightly browned, 8 to 10 minutes.
- Add the roasted tomatoes and roasted garlic, bay leaf, vegetable stock, and basil.
- Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally to reduce some of the liquid.
- Remove bay leaf and discard.
- Use an immersion hand blender to puree the soup until smooth. Alternatively, process the soup in batches in a blender until smooth.
- Taste and season with salt and pepper as desired. Garnish with chives.
- Recipe Yield: about 5 cups
- Serving Size: 1 cup
- If the soup is too thin after blending, continue to simmer until the desired consistency is reached. If too thick, gradually add more vegetable stock.
- If desired, add a few tablespoons of heavy cream stirred in after blending off the heat for an even richer flavor.
- MAKE IT VEGAN: Substitute butter for extra-virgin olive oil.
- MAKE IT WHOLE30: Substitute extra-virgin olive oil or ghee for butter. Substitute sea salt for kosher salt.
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