Tomato Basil Soup

4.89 from 34 votes
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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!

If you’re a fan of this recipe, be sure to check out my roasted tomato basil pasta or my classic tomato soup.

Homemade tomato basil soup recipe in a white bowl with crunchy croutons on top.

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.

Pouring olive oil over sliced tomatoes on a baking sheet.
Step 2. Prepare Tomatoes

Tomato selection

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!

Roasted tomatoes and garlic on a baking sheet.
Step 3. Roast the tomatoes

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.

Garlic and onions in a large pot being sauteed in butter.
Step 4. Cook the aromatics

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.

Hand immersion blender pureeing tomato soup in a pot.
Step 6. Puree until smooth

What to serve this with

FAQ

Is tomato basil soup healthy?

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.

What is the difference between tomato basil soup and tomato bisque?

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.

Can you make tomato basil soup in the slow cooker?

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.

Dutch oven filled with tomato soup and topped with basil.

Recipe Science

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.

Tomato Basil Soup

Easy tomato basil soup that’s creamy and smooth with a generous amount of herbs for maximum flavor. Each spoonful is a delight!
4.89 from 34 votes
Prep Time20 minutes
Cook Time1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time1 hour 50 minutes
Servings 5 servings
Course Soup
Cuisine American

Ingredients 
 

  • 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

Instructions 

  • 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.

Notes

  • 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. 

Nutrition Facts

Serves: 5 servings
Calories 241kcal (12%)Carbohydrates 24g (8%)Protein 4g (8%)Fat 16g (25%)Saturated Fat 4g (20%)Cholesterol 12mg (4%)Sodium 896mg (37%)Potassium 951mg (27%)Fiber 5g (20%)Sugar 13g (14%)Vitamin A 3580IU (72%)Vitamin C 67mg (81%)Calcium 73mg (7%)Iron 2mg (11%)

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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Jessica Gavin

I'm a culinary school graduate, cookbook author, and a mom who loves croissants! My passion is creating recipes and sharing the science behind cooking to help you gain confidence in the kitchen.

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Recipe Rating




29 Comments Leave a comment or review

  1. Marti says

    WOW! Superb, delicious, sensational. Where has this recipe been? No heavy cream was the key to the best soup we’ve ever had. Thank you for sharing. 86 degrees outside did not deter us from enjoying this delicacy. I didn’t have enough fresh tomatoes so added a can of chopped but it didn’t change the taste. WOW!!!

  2. Elisa says

    Delicious – it’s already a family favourite 🙂 I served it with crispy Parmigiano chips for a contrast in texture and flavor.
    Thanks for the recipe!

  3. Jill Zinner says

    Does this call for 2 different types of tomatoes or just either/or both? Garlic roasted or garlic saluted or either/or both?
    Thank you…it does seem like a lot of work for a soup…but I bet it’s going to be worth while…FYI/ Last night we had the last batch of butternut squash soup I made in the winter and I mentioned to my husband…now I want to make tomato soup…Like magic your recipe appeared in my Gmail!
    Jill Zinner

    • Jessica Gavin says

      You can use one type of tomato if you prefer. The sweeter the better! I add the garlic that roasts with the tomatoes and some minced sauteed garlic. If you want to skip the minced garlic you can. Let me know what you think!

  4. Angshuman Das says

    Hi Jessica:

    Great to see more and more American cooks and chefs using ghee, which was rarely heard of in the Western world until a couple of decades ago. You have suggested ghee as a sub for butter, and Martha Steward uses ghee (clarified butter) in her trademark scramble egg!

  5. Judy Caywood says

    I don’t see my comment from the other day but I know we will love this. I believe we may have made it before but I kind of forgot about it. we bought all the ingredients today tomato it for the weekend.

  6. Judy says

    I printed this out and cannot wait to try it. Tomato soup is a favorite of mine. I know from your other recipes Jessica that once I make this I will never go back to any others I have had. I just showed it to Timothy and he shouted Yes!! smile

  7. Carolyn says

    Something I learned from the King Arthur baking website is to add approx 1/4 tsp of baking soda to tomato soup after it’s cooked. It’s now something I do with pretty much every tomato based dish – it improves the flavour immensely.

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Wow, adding in baking soda sounds really interesting! Do you know how it enhances the flavor? Did it make the soup fizzy at all?

    • Cynthia says

      My grandmother always did that too. It never tasted fizzy to me, just delicious. She did make tomato bisque and also added baking soda but more of it which to me had a fizzy feel to it but in a good way.

  8. Kim says

    We love this soup! It’s an old favorite that we’ve been making for well over a year. We’re making it again tonight!! Thank you for sharing!

  9. Mike Testerman says

    It’s late Aug. & we have more ripe Roma’s than we can use, so I tried this recipe. Wow, best tomato soup I’ve ever had. We also had a ton of basil, so that was convenient. I used about 2/3 c. Basil and it was great. The garlic & thyme really come through, too. Thanks!

    • Jessica Gavin says

      I’m jealous Mike! I’m thrilled to hear that you enjoyed the soup and got to use your homegrown produce. That’s amazing!

      • Christine Potthast says

        Hello Jessica, I would love to make this recipe. Question: Can the soup be served cold? At the moment, I am cooking soups for a friend who had oral surgery and is on a cold soup diet for now.
        What do you think?

  10. Bethany says

    Such a great recipe! This was my first time to make tomato soup with a recipe that called for fresh roasted tomatoes versus canned, and I will never go back! The steps were so easy to follow, and the soup was DELICIOUS!

  11. Neal says

    It looks like a wonderful soup butt seriously – – – 14 ingredients, 17 steps = 20 minute prep time… ? What are you not telling us?

    I want to make this but something seems to be missing.

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Prep time and cook time are separated out, so total cooking time is definitely longer. Shouldn’t take too long to slice tomatoes and chop up onions and garlic. Let me know how it goes!