Best Tomato Soup

I really like tomato soup. I would even go so far as to say it is my favorite soup and this tomato soup is one of the best I have ever eaten. Better than the tomato soup at Bread, better than the tomato soup at Nordstrom Cafe (which is surprisingly good for a department store restaurant), better than any I know. It is relatively easy to make and comes together quickly. I make this pretty regularly during the winter and never get tired of it. Let it offer you some comfort on a cold snowy day (it is 4° F in Chicago right now). It is particularly nice with some Parmesan toasts to dunk into it. Or maybe some mozzarella melted on top. Some fresh chives? Feel free to improvise.

The real trick here is that you roast your canned tomatoes with brown sugar before adding them to the stock. This delivers a deep, rich caramel goodness to the canned tomatoes. Again, San Marziano tomatoes are the way to go here.

Creamy Tomato Soup (Adapted from Cooks Illustrated)

  • 2 (28-ounce) cans whole tomatoes in juice, drained, 3 cups juice reserved
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 4 large shallots, minced (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • Pinch ground allspice
  • 2 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1 3/4 cups chicken stock, homemade or canned low-sodium
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • Salt and cayenne pepper

Heat oven to 450° F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil. With fingers, carefully open whole tomatoes over a strainer set in a bowl and push out seeds, allowing juices to fall through the strainer into bowl. Spread tomatoes in single layer on foil. Sprinkle evenly with dark brown sugar. Bake for 30 minutes or until all liquid has evaporated and tomatoes begin to color. When tomatoes are cool enough to handle, then peel them off foil; transfer to small bowl and set aside.

Heat butter over medium heat in a large saucepan until foaming. Add shallots, tomato paste and allspice. Reduce heat to low, cover, and cook, stirring occasionally, until shallots are softened, 7 to 10 minutes. Add flour and cook, stirring constantly, until thoroughly combined, about 30 seconds. Gradually add chicken stock, whisking constantly to combine; stir in reserved tomato juice and roasted tomatoes. Cover, increase heat to medium, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, to blend flavors, about 10 minutes.

Remove pan from heat and puree soup using an immersion blender. Alternately, you could strain soup to separate solids and liquids and then puree the solids with a cup of the strained liquid until smooth and return everything to pot. In either method, once you have a smoothly pureed soup you should warm it over a low flame and add the cream, salt and cayenne pepper to taste.

Serve with croutons, cheese, fresh basil or chives, whatever seems good to you. This is also be quite amazing with a grilled cheese.

***For the parmesan toasts I brush some oil on slices of baguette, sprinkle with sea salt and freshly ground pepper and top with some grated parmesan. Toast until edges are lightly browned and cheese is melted.

*** This makes about 6 servings of soup.

34 comments to “Best Tomato Soup”

  1. This sounds delicious. Believe it or not, I have never had tomato soup. I think your recipe has convinced me to change that!

  2. Susan Wagner says:

    December 23rd, 2008 at 6:22 pm

    This sounds so amazing!! I can’t wait to try this recipe! One of my favorite restaurants here in Indianapolis (Cafe Patachou) makes the most amazing tomato artichoke soup. I have not been able to master that recipe as of yet… I think artichokes, as much as I love them, intimidate me! Ha! Thanks for this wonderful recipe! I’ll let you know how it turns out and what my tomato loving boys think of it!

  3. This is quite a claim and, after reading this I realized I am without a favorite tomato soup recipe. I can’t believe it myself. The roasting tip is a good one – can’t wait to try it!

  4. I am also without a favorite tomato soup recipe! My husband’s favorite tomato soup comes from a can!! Hmm, I just wonder if I can break that bad habit with this recipe?? It looks so good. Thank you so much for posting and I am trying it tomorrow with some grilled cheese sandwiches made with imported cheddar cheese that my friend gave me for Christmas.

  5. Funny, the Nordstrom cafe soup is one of my favorites. So I will definitely have to try this…

  6. We tried the recipe tonight. Delicious. Will be on our regular menu. Thanks!

  7. Gin: I hope you do enjoy this one, it is great with grilled cheese sandwiches.

    Jared: Glad you liked it!

  8. I am not a huge fan of tomato soup, but I have come across some really delicious ones – this sounds like one of them. I’ll have to try it out.

  9. This soup sounds wonderful! Beautiful photos, too. I just found your blog via The Kitchn and am looking forward to delving into your archives. What a delicious way to start the new year! : )

  10. tomatoe branch… this was divine. i made it tonite and put toasted garlic parmesean toasts on sweedish brown bread triangles with it. i took a picture too. it captures that perfect creamy sweetness.

  11. I made this for dinner tonight. I accidentally dropped in more than a pinch of allspice. Oops. I will definitely be more careful with the allspice next time. But besides that mix up it was delicious. Everyone loved it (4 year old, 7 year old, pregnant mama, and husband who doesn’t usually like tomato soup). I served it with Panini grilled cheese. Yum!

  12. Katie Przybylski says:

    January 18th, 2009 at 9:49 pm

    Excellent tomato soup!! It WAS the best I have ever had. My husband enjoyed it as well. Thanks for the great recipe. Looking forward to trying more!

  13. This was delicious! I stumbled upon your Web site when looking for the tomato soup recipe I had seen in Cooks Illustrated. Made this for a group of friends and everyone loved it – followed the recipe exactly and made with the parmesan toasts on Italian bread.

  14. Stephanie & Katie: Glad you liked it! It really is so delicious.

  15. Just made this soup for my family tonight and everyone loved it! Thanks :-)

  16. Can one do this with fresh tomatoes too..? am not a big fan of canned ones.. any changes to be made to the recipe if fresh used…?

  17. I did try this once with fresh tomatoes and did not like it as much. It was a lot more work and the finished soup somehow tasted less tomatoe-y. Perhaps you can try your hand at it and let me know. I removed skins from tomatoes and seeds. I also used more of the fresh tomatoes than the canned to try to compensate for some of the lost puree/flavor. Good luck!

  18. I made a tomato soup a long time ago – Rachel Ray’s to be exact – and it was so terrible that I vowed to never make tomato soup again. That recipe, along with so many othera, involve using watered down tomato sauce and lots of heavy cream, resulting in a disgustingly bland soup. This recipe held so much promise that I tried it tonight, and it is indeed, the best tomato soup I’ve ever had. Thank you so much.

  19. Hi Paula! So glad you liked this recipe. It really is a good tomato soup. I would love to eat some of this soup with the corn cakes that are up on your site right now!

  20. Congratulations. I adore your site. Love your Tomato Soup and Grilled Cheese recipes. Served together they are bliss.

  21. So I just learned about your website today for the first time through DailyCandy. I was immediately intrigued because not only do I love mac and cheese (the featured recipe) but I love to cook and love new recipes. I was poking around on your site and I found this tomato soup recipe, which I also happen to love! I cannot wait to try it…specifically because you mentioned the restaurant BREAD in NYC. I went there this summer and was obsessed and since you say this better than their soup, I will be making this recipe ASAP. I cannot wait to explore your website further because clearly you are Chicago Foodies like me!

  22. Hi LB,
    Thanks for the nice comment. I hope you enjoy the tomato soup! I love Bread, it is someplace I try to eat at every time I am in NY.

  23. This soup sounds lovely, the ONLY thing I would change is to add is roasted garlic–then it would be truly sublime!

  24. Just made this for the first time. ALMOST makes the sudden drop in temperature bearable. Thanks for the great recipe, and even better website!

  25. This is the second thing I hAve made from your website and OMG this issooooo good. Soup is not something I usually have knack for, but this was great!! And, btw, the chocolate caramel tart…BEST DESSERT EVER!!!! I made and gave away about 9 of these at Christmas for gifts and everyone loved it. Great website…love it

  26. Kate- yay! You picked two good recipes to start with. This soup remains one of my all-time favorite things. I still make it all of the time. Thanks for checking in!

  27. This is the best tomato soup to ever live. Loved it so much!

  28. By far, hands down the best tomato soup ever. Thank you Tim, I am a kitched God to my husband now!

  29. yay, Tracy! So great to hear. I still make this all of the time and love it, too.

  30. Why can’t you use fresh organic tomatoes and roast them ???? I personally think that canned food kills away the wholesomeness of any dish . Try it

  31. Well, Micha, you certainly can do whatever you like. Tomatoes do not grow where I live for most of the year. Roasted tomato soup is something I want to eat in winter, not summer. Using fresh tomatoes would greatly increase the amount of work required to make this soup. And I do not think that canned food kills away the wholesomeness of any dish. So, I’ll stick to my canned tomatoes.

  32. I really must thank you for is recipe, it’s become a seasonal favorite in our house! I made it this evening on a perfectly rainy night and paired it with a puff pastry ham and gruyere thing. It was felt comforting and sinful and my whole family loved it!

  33. This looks great. I’ve been searching for a creamy tomato soup recipe. Nordstrom Cafe’s tomato soup is definitely at the top of my list of favorites as well (so. good.), so I am excited that this one surpasses it!

  34. I adapted this, sautéed shallots with 2 garlic cloves. Used olive oil instead. After flour I added chicken broth and reserved tomato juice , simmered a while and then added 1 can artichoke hearts. Simmered til they were soft and added roasted tomatoes and cooked maybe 8 minutes. Purée it all with immersion blender. Add Parmesan cheese if you like. I prefer it without but husband liked it with. Better than Patachou where we adore it!

What do you think?