Creamy Tomato Bisque is the best comfort food for dinner in the fall or winter season This warming soup is made from scratch with canned tomatoes and can be served with fresh basil and grilled cheese sandwiches to dunk in it.

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On a black background it says "plan ahead" in yellow and "this recipe has a long marinating time, cooking time or resting time"
A white bowl of tomato bisque garnished with basil with a spoon. A green plate of grilled cheese is partially visible in the top right corner. A folded red and white napkin is partially visible in the bottom right corner.

Tips and Tricks

How do you store leftover tomato bisque? Store soup in the fridge in an airtight container for up to a week or in the freezer for up to three months. Do not store with fresh basil. 

What’s the difference between tomato soup and tomato bisque? Tomato soup is usually made with just chicken or vegetable stock where tomato bisque is made with cream or whole milk to make it creamy and rich. 

How do you reheat leftover tomato bisque? To reheat leftover soup, either reheat in the microwave, stirring every minute or reheat slowly in a pan on the stove over medium low heat, stirring occasionally. Add fresh basil after reheating.

How much bisque does this recipe make? This recipe is perfect for two people or a family of four. If serving with grilled cheese, this recipe easily serves four people for a meal or two people with leftovers. Any leftovers can be stored in the fridge or freezer. If you wanted to serve smaller portions for an appetizer, it would serve about six people. 

What do you serve with tomato bisque? Tomato bisque can be served as an appetizer to any dinner party. It goes great with grilled cheese and is the ultimate nostalgic comfort food meal. Another great option is a cold sandwich for lunch or a light salad. Cold and hot food pair well together for fantastic contrast. Another option is rustic bread to dunk into the soup!

Grilled cheese being dunked into a white bowl of tomato bisque with a spoon and garnished with fresh basil. All on a white background.

Ingredients

What’s the best type of canned tomatoes to use? When looking for canned tomatoes, buy tomatoes that are whole peeled tomatoes with nothing added to them. If possible, look for a brand that doesn’t have calcium chloride, no added salt or any flavorings, which allows you to control your flavors. I use San Marzano tomatoes but as long as the ingredient list is minimal and it’s whole peeled tomatoes, it will work. Diced tomatoes will work in a pinch but are more processed and don’t cook down as well. 

A white background with ingredients laid out and labeled, butter, carrots, yellow onions, garlic, parmesan rind, chicken stock, and canned whole peeled tomatoes.

Do you need to add the fresh basil on top for garnish? Garnish is an optional step and ingredient but fresh basil goes very well with tomatoes! Add this at the end before serving for a pop of color and freshness. However, if that’s all you’re missing, just add a little extra pepper to garnish or use dried basil/oregano. 

A white background with ingredients laid out with labels; heavy cream, black pepper, salt, fresh basil, baking soda and cayenne pepper.

Method

How do you make tomato bisque from scratch? In a large mixing bowl, add cans of tomatoes and crush by hand.

A collage of 4 photos showing how to hand crush whole peeled tomatoes.

Melt butter over medium heat until foaming in a six quart dutch oven or large pot.  Add carrots, onion and garlic and stir occasionally for 10-15 minutes until vegetables turn soft, fragrant and butter begins to brown.

Collage of 4 images showing the process steps. 1 how to dice carrots, onions and garlic. 2 Butter foaming in a dutch oven. 3 is all chopped vegetables into dutch oven. 4 is softened vegetables in dutch oven.

Once the vegetables are soft, add in crushed tomatoes and juices, chicken stock, Parmigiano- Reggiano rind if using and stir to combine. Allow broth to come to a brief boil and then reduce the heat to medium low for a simmer. Cook for 90 minutes, stirring occasionally until liquid reduces and becomes thicker. Remove rind and discard and then add baking soda. Taste again and continue to adjust for taste, a strong acidic taste should mellow out.

Collage of 4 images showing the process steps. 1 shows whole tomatoes and juices and chicken broth being added to dutch oven to vegetables. 2 shows how the soup reduces after 90 minutes in the dutch oven. 3 shows the foaming of the soup when baking soda is added. 4 is stiring in the baking soda in the broth in a dutch oven.

Turn off the heat and puree soup with an immersion blender until smooth.  Stir in cream, kosher salt, freshly ground pepper and cayenne pepper. Taste soup and adjust the level of salt and cayenne pepper as needed. Soup should taste flavorful but not salty. Serve in a bowl and garnish with chopped fresh basil on top. 

Collage of 2 images showing the process of cooking. 1 is an immersion blender pureeing the soup in the dutch oven. 2 is stiring heavy cream into the soup in a dutch oven.

How much salt do you add to the finished soup? Adding salt depends on a few factors. In all of my recipes I use Diamond Crystal Kosher salt because it has a coarser grind and therefore has less salt grains per tablespoon. However, if you are adding table salt or another brand of kosher salt, season to taste; starting with half the recommended amount of salt. If you use store bought low sodium stock, you may need to add less salt as well. Using a homemade stock or broth may mean you need a little more salt to season the soup. Ultimately, start out with half the recommended and then continue to taste. The soup should taste good and flavorful without being salty. 

How do you know how much baking soda to add? Each brand of canned tomatoes has a different acidity level. Also, everyone’s personal taste is different. Start out with ¼ teaspoon of baking soda and allow it to foam, stir it in and then taste the soup. Continue to do this process until you’re satisfied with the acidity level. 

Substitutions

Can you switch out chicken stock for vegetable stock? Yes! You can either make your own chicken stock, buy low sodium chicken stock or use vegetable stock. If you use vegetable stock, the recipe will be vegetarian but not vegan. 

CHicken stock in a plastic container surrounded by carrots, celery, onions and parsley and thyme.

Can you use a blender instead of an immersion blender? I use an immersion blender because I can easily do it in the dutch oven. You can definitely use a blender if you prefer a smoother soup or that’s all you have. To use a blender, you must cool the soup slightly and then transfer to the blender. Be careful when pureeing hot soup and be sure to remove the center cap from the top. Only fill the blender half way and cover with a towel  and puree. Repeat with remaining soup and continue with the recipe.

A single white bowl of tomato bisque garnished with fresh basil on a white background with a spoon in the soup. A red and white napkin is surrounding the right side of the bowl.

Inspired by Thick and Creamy Tomato Soup from Serious Eats

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Creamy Tomato Bisque

Creamy Tomato Bisque is the best comfort food for dinner in the fall or winter season This warming soup is made from scratch with canned tomatoes and can be served with fresh basil and grilled cheese sandwiches to dunk in it.
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time2 hrs
Total Time2 hrs 15 mins
Servings: 4 Bowls
Author: Samantha

Ingredients

  • 2 (28) oz cans whole tomatoes crushed by hand
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter ½ stick
  • ½ pound diced carrots
  • ½ pound diced yellow onion
  • 5-6 cloves garlic minced
  • 2 ½ cup homemade or low sodium chicken stock or broth
  • 1 Parmigiano-Reggiano rind optional
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda plus more to taste
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 ¼ teaspoon Diamond Crystal kosher salt plus more to taste (use half amount if another brand)
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • Chopped basil for garnish

Instructions

  • In a large mixing bowl, add cans of tomatoes and crush by hand, set aside.
  • In a 6 quart dutch oven, melt butter over medium heat. Butter should be foaming but not browning or burning. Add carrots, onion and garlic and stir occasionally for 10-15 minutes until vegetables turn soft and butter begins to brown.
  • Once the vegetables are soft, add in crushed tomatoes and juices, chicken stock, Parmigiano-Reggiano rind if using and stir to combine. Allow broth to come to a brief boil and then reduce the heat to medium low for a simmer.
  • Cook for 1 and ½ hours, stirring occasionally until liquid reduces and becomes thicker.
  • Remove rind and discard. Taste broth and if acidic, add baking soda. Allow the broth to foam and stir until it stops. Taste again and continue to adjust for taste, a strong acidic taste should mellow out (brands of canned tomatoes can vary in acidity).
  • Turn off the heat and puree soup with an immersion blender until smooth.
  • Stir in cream, kosher salt (Diamond Crystal Kosher; use half amount and taste if using another brand), freshly ground pepper and cayenne pepper. Taste soup and adjust the level of salt and cayenne pepper as needed. Soup should taste flavorful but not salty.
  • Serve in bowl and garnish with chopped basil on top. Enjoy with grilled cheese if desired.

Notes

  • Chicken broth or vegetable stock can be used in this recipe, homemade is preferred.
  • You can use a blender instead of an immersion blender, but cool soup slightly before pureeing.
  • Use canned whole peeled tomatoes and crush by hand.
  • Use Diamond Crystal Kosher salt if available, it is a coarser salt than table salt. Use half the amount if using a different brand and season to taste
  • Add baking soda until the acidic bite is gone from the soup, I’ve used up to a teaspoon before, just adjust slowly.
  • Store in the fridge for up to 1 week or in the freezer for up to 3 months.

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