Tomato Basil Soup


There was a little bistro here in my town – a sandwich, soup, and salad kind of place. It was successful, but the owners eventually retired and moved to Texas to be closer to their extended family.

The one thing I always ordered was their tomato basil soup. It was rich, tomatoey, and perfumed with sweet basil. And I don’t typically order soup at restaurants.

This is my attempt to recreate something hopefully similar, and definitely good, based on the following criteria.

1. I believe in using good quality canned tomatoes. Summer fresh tomatoes are lovely, but can lack in sweetness, or worse yet – can be tart.

2. I’m adding a carrot to provide a sweet boost, something I learned from making an Italian tomato tart.

3. I’m including a few sun-dried tomatoes for sweetness; they also help thicken.

4. Dried basil goes into this soup. I know that it seems unsophisticated, but I feel both fresh and dried herbs have their places in cooking.

Tomato Basil Soup
printable recipe below

4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 small onion, coarsely chopped
1 carrot, coarsely chopped
4 cloves garlic, halved
2 – 28 ounce cans San Marzano whole tomatoes, or other high quality brand
6 sun-dried tomato halves, jarred in oil
1 tablespoon (or more) dried sweet basil
1/2 teaspoon salt
12 ounces heavy cream

Melt the butter in a large enameled pot over medium heat. Add the onion and carrot and sauté for about 5 minutes.

Add the garlic halves and stir for about 30 seconds, then pour in the canned tomatoes and sun-dried tomatoes.

Simmer the tomato mixture for at least 30 minutes, uncovered. Cook longer if there’s still too much liquid; you’ll be adding cream later.

Stir in the sweet basil and salt, and season to taste.

Let the soup cool. Then pour the soup into a large blender jar, along with the cream.

Return the puréed soup to the pot and heat through before serving.

Even with the cream, the soup remains tomato-red, and definitely rich in flavor.

If more richness and creaminess are desired, you can always add a little sour cream or crème fraiche.

Alternatively, crumble a little goat cheese on top.

This soup is fairly quick and definitely easy. If you don’t have sun-dried tomatoes, just use a good quality tomato paste instead, about 3 tablespoons. I like tubular tomato paste for a small job.

Add more dried basil if the soup isn’t basil-y enough. You should definitely taste the tomato-basil combination!



72 thoughts on “Tomato Basil Soup

  1. I love tomato basil soup – especially with big crunchy croutons or fresh bread or even grilled cheese to dunk!!! YUM! Wintry comfort food at its best :)

  2. I’m going to make your tomato soup this week! I never would have guessed the sun dried tomatoes would have added sweetness! I’m with you on the canned tomatoes too! The flavor is so different! I have never found the perfect tomato basil soup recipe, but I suspect your recipe will earn a spot in my favorite recipes notebook!

    • Maybe I’ve just never been able to get my hands on perfect tomatoes, even the ones I grow. I’ve tried to grow San Marzano seeds, even. I’m not against soup made from good tomatoes, but canned/tinned tomatoes have to be ripe before they’re canned, so ripeness is pretty much guaranteed!

    • Like, from a can??? No wonder!!! I never knew about it till I went to college. My mother never opened a can of much of anything! Happy New Year!

  3. happy new year mimi. i agree about dried herbs- there is definitely a place for them. i never (probably never) buy soups when eating out. soup never seems like a meal to me:-) i like your idea of thickening with some dried tomatoes. and the carrot would be a great addition. hope your festive hols have been great. cheers sherry

    • Maybe that’s what it is – it’s not a meal, even though soups certainly can be a meal… Yes, fresh basil is fabulous, but so is dried. And I use a lot of dried thyme as well. Happy New Years!

  4. Love how the color changed when you added the sun-dried tomatoes, sure it gave it some zip too. Nothing like soup everyday in the winter time. Will give this a try too.

  5. Another winner, Mimi! I love a good tomato soup and this is a beautiful recipe! I just saved it on Pinterest and can’t wait to make it. I enjoy a good soup year-round, but in the winter time, it’s a must! Wishing you a very peaceful and healthy new year. I look forward to your posts!

  6. Mimi, I made this tonight and it is just like Mary Beth’s soup!!! I even sliced up some croissants and toasted them and sprinkled them with paprika with a little melted butter. Katie said that the only thing missing were chocolate covered strawberries! Truly a walk down memory lane that will be repeated many times now that I have your recipe :-) Thank you!!!

  7. I always think it’s fun to try to recreate a meal I’ve had in a restaurant. This looks so rich and creamy and wonderful. I agree about using dry herbs. :-) Thanks for this comforting recipe.

    • They are so flavorful, but can also be omitted because they add a different kind of tomato flavor! Happy New Year!

  8. Happy New Year Chef Mimi, I love this recipe and your insistence on only the best Italian San Marzano tomatoes. The tip on adding carrot is fantastic too. I’m going to give this a go to shake me out of my pumpkin or sweet potato soup routine!

  9. Tomato soup is my all-time favorite and the only soup I will eat out of a can (when I’m desperate). I like the idea of adding sun-dried tomatoes – I have a good recipe I’ve been making a long time and even add celery in addition to carrots. I also use to make a tomato concentrate when I had my big garden and now when I get energetic I’ll buy 1/2 bushel at the market :) An American comfort food for sure!

    • I can take or leave celery. It definitely goes into some soups and stews, but I cared more about the tomatoey goodness in this one! I’ve never made a concentrate. Very smart!!!

  10. Nothing better on a cold afternoon that a hot bowl of tomato soup and a grilled cheese sandwich. You tomato basil soup looks to fit that bill perfectly. I use tomato paste but love the sun-dried tomato idea. Thanks for teaching this old dog a new trick.

  11. What a beautiful and flavorful soup! My mother’s tomato soup is flavored with thyme – dried thyme! So I definitely understand using dried basil! Happy New Year!

    • I use dried thyme year round, but I prefer basil in tomato soup. Dried herbs have so much more flavor, although I’d never use dried rosemary or sage. Or parsley. Or cilantro. I guess I mostly use dried basil, oregano, and thyme!

    • They’re truly different, aren’t they?!! I have mentioned in comments that I use dried thyme a lot, throughout the year, in anything homey, and in herbed cheeses as well. Plus, in Mexican and Southwestern dishes, I use a lot of oregano. Dried basil has its place as well.

  12. Cheers to tomato soup! There’s just something so comforting about this classic soup. I normally don’t order soup when I go out either, but I can see how this one became a favorite! Interesting tip about the carrot as well as the sun-dried tomatoes…I’ll have to stash that tidbit in the back of my mind for next time. And, yes, I agree that dried herbs have a place in recipes!!

    • Thank you. I definitely use dried thyme year around, and lots of oregano when I cook Mexican and Southwestern dishes. Dried basil is so flavorful and sweet!

  13. Mimi – what a brilliant idea to add sun dried tomatoes! I always have a jar in the fridge, but have never even thought to add it to soup! Thanks for the tip! Beautiful soup!

  14. Love the idea to add carrot Mimi… makes perfect sense. I love eating and cooking soup…there is just something about tucking in to a hearty bowl of warm soup…it’s like a hug from the inside 😊

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