This easy tomato basil soup recipe is creamy and smooth, with a generous amount of herbs for maximum flavor. Fresh tomatoes and garlic cloves are roasted to concentrate the sweet and earthy notes. Each spoonful is a delight!
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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 it, the dish’s simplicity lets the produce’s flavors 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 temperatures. The intense heat concentrates the fruity flavors while developing 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 adding heavy cream. Top with crunchy croutons for a contrast of textures with each sip.
I use two varieties, Roma and Campari (cocktail is a tasty substitute). Roma tomatoes, also known as plum 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 more petite in size, juicy in texture with a balanced flavor that’s more robust. It adds depth to the mix. Feel free to use just one kind, or mix it up.
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. However, canned tomatoes like San Marzano or whole peeled work well as a shortcut if you don’t have time to roast.
Tomato preparation before roasting
Cut the tomatoes in half lengthwise to allow you to roast some cut-side up and some cut-side down. 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!
Roast the tomatoes
The tomatoes are cooked in the oven with extra-virgin olive oil, salt, pepper, thyme sprigs, and garlic cloves. The garlic softens, mellows out the sulfur notes, and even turns sweet. Roasting tomatoes at high heat, 400ºF (204ºC), until the excess water dries off and the flavors concentrate is key to enhancing the natural savory and sweet notes from the fruit. The process takes about an hour.
How to make tomato basil soup
Use a large pot like a dutch oven to make the soup. Cook the minced garlic in melted butter over medium heat, just until you can smell the fragrant allium. Add the onions, sauteing lightly to caramelize the surface for extra sweetness. Add the roasted tomatoes and sliced garlic, bay leaf, fresh basil, and vegetable broth or stock. You could also add chicken broth for a more intense umami taste.
Bring to a boil, then down to a simmer for about 20 minutes to concentrate the savory liquids. To make a silky texture without the need for added cream, puree with a blender until super smooth. Season with salt and pepper, and top with freshly sliced basil, croutons for crunch, or even some aged parmesan cheese for extra saltiness.
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 the dairy, 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. A food processor also works very well.
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 for 6 months 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
Yes! My version does not use heavy cream. Instead, puree the tomatoes and vegetables to add richness and creamy consistency. The fruit is cooked with extra-virgin olive when roasted. A small amount of butter is used to saute the onions. However, you can use olive oil as a dairy-free and vegan option. Tomatoes are packed with nutrients like the antioxidant lycopene, vitamin C, K, folate, and potassium, making them a healthy base for soup.
Both are creamy tomato-based soups. Tomato basil soup may or may not contain added cream. A bisque is pureed and strained for a very fine consistency. Cream is typically added for a velvety consistency. Traditionally, bisque uses the shells of seafood to flavor and thicken the soup, however, for tomato bisque, the fruit and vegetables are pureed.
Yes! This is a great recipe to adapt for a 6-quart Crock-Pot or slow cooker. I recommend roasting the fresh tomatoes and garlic, or they will make the soup very watery in the vessel. Cook on low heat for 7 to 8 hours or high heat for 3 to 4 hours.
Add garlic cooked two ways for more flavor!
Slow-roasting garlic with 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 , or broth
- 1 cup basil leaves, packed, cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1 tablespoon chopped chives
- Heat Oven – Set the oven rack to the center position and preheat to 400ºF (204ºC).
- Prepare Tomatoes – Line a large baking sheet with foil. Place sliced Roma and Campari tomatoes cut-side up on the sheet. Evenly disperse the sliced garlic. Drizzle the olive oil over the top. Season with salt and pepper.Flip over some 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 – Roast the tomatoes until lightly browned, slightly shriveled, and most of the liquid has evaporated, about 55 to 60 minutes. Discard the thyme sprigs.
- Cook Aromatics – Heat a large pot over medium heat. Add butter, once melted, add the minced garlic. Saute until fragrant but not browned, about 30 seconds. Add onions, and saute until lightly browned, 8 to 10 minutes.
- Simmer Soup – 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, occasionally stirring to reduce some of the liquid. Remove bay leaf and discard.
- Puree – Use an immersion hand blender to puree the soup until smooth. Alternatively, process the soup in batches in a blender until smooth.
- To Serve – Taste and season the soup with salt and pepper as desired. Garnish with chives.
- Recipe Yield: About 5 cups
- Serving Size: 1 cup
- Adjusting Consistency: If the soup is too thin after blending, continue to simmer until the desired thickness is reached. If too thick, gradually add more vegetable stock.
- Make it Creamier: Add a few tablespoons of heavy cream or canned coconut milk. Stir into the soup after blending.
- 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.
- Storing: Cool and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Freeze in resealable plastic bags for up to 6 months. Defrost before using.
- Reheating: Cover and microwave on high setting in 30-second intervals until hot, stirring in between. Alternatively, cook on the stovetop over medium heat until hot.
Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000-calorie diet. All nutritional information is based on estimated third-party calculations. Each recipe and nutritional value will vary depending on the brands you use, measuring methods, and portion sizes per household.
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