Classic, homemade tomato soup should be a hearty, stick to your ribs type of meal. Something with substance, not watery. Suitable for dipping grilled cheese sandwiches or to supplement a leafy salad.
Roasted Tomato Soup
There are some tomato soups that are basically just juiced tomatoes. These are fine, very acidic and loose, but get the job done.
But then there are the kind that you sip and declare could be the only soup you eat for the rest of your life. Chances are that the vegetables were roasted prior to simmering into the rich bowl in front of you.
Roasting tomatoes, onion, garlic, carrots and even parsley brings out the naturally complex flavors and caramelizes natural sugars, changing the whole profile of the dish. Sure this is an extra step, but I reserve it for lazy Sundays loafing around in slippers and yoga pants.
Best Tomatoes for Tomato Soup
Did you know there are well over 50 varieties of tomatoes available fro purchase in the US? And 10,000+ varieties worldwide. That is a crazy amount of flavors to memorize.
For tomato soup, I like using roma or plum tomatoes. Form and oblong, they tend to not have as much grit, develop clean tomatoey flavor and have fewer seeds. The also have tender skins so you don’t have to add another step of steaming and peeling; they seamlessly blend in.
But really, any tomato can be used and you can even use a blend of varieties.
- Tomatoes- the base of the soup, there is no substitute. Roma tomatoes, sometimes called plum, are the perfect fit. They have a lower water content giving them concentrated tomato flavor. Learn how to roast roma tomatoes.
- Yellow onion- White onion can also be used. Red is fine, but gives the soup an odd tint, so I do not recommend it.
- Fresh garlic cloves– Fresh is best and in this case, the only way to go. Pre-minced, jarred stuff will just burn whole roasting, but whole cloves caramelize giving a sweet garlicky taste.
- Carrots- Carrots is a common ingredient added to acidic tomato-based sauces because the sugars balance it out, not to mention strengthen the color.
- Flat parsley– Use flat leaf, sometimes labeled Italian parsley, not curly. Try to get the leaves, but if some of the stems get in there, it’s fine! Stems can be chopped into salads, blending into pesto or used for anything that calls for parsley flavor, and in this case, will be blended right into the sauce.
- Olive oil- Since the oil is for roasting, it does not need to be the high octane first press, just go with your run-of-the-mill cooking olive oil or another neutral oil
- Coarse sea salt- I do like coarse salt for this recipe because of the mild salty flavor and the way it enhances all of the other ingredients.
- Black pepper– Some folks are sensitive to pepper in soup, either omit it and add it in the end or use ground white pepper.
- Baking Soda– Excuse me? What? I wrote a whole section- see it below.
- Italian seasoning– A dry mix with classic Italian flavors, make your own or use store-bought.
- Low sodium vegetable broth– I almost exclusively use low sodium broths so I can better control the salt content. Chicken broth can also be used, but since this dish is naturally vegetarian, I opted for the veggie broth too. You’ll get even more delicious juices from the roasting pan and tomatoes.
- Basil– Is there anything better suited to pair with tomato than fresh basil? To get the most impact, use it fresh at the end to brighten.
- Heavy cream– Just a small pour adds loads of creamy texture and flavor to this hearty soup. Old school soup recipes would have you simmer with a parmesan cheese rind, but these days even finding a rind suitable for simmering is a challenge so cream fits the bill. Freshly grated parmesan cheese can also be used, but make sure it is freshly shredded, not shaker cheese, which will not melt and stay grainy.
How to Make It
There are three steps in making this homemade tomato soup: roasting, blending and simmering. The good news is that it is very freezer friendly and great for meal prep, so make a double or even triple batch.
- Preheat the oven.
- Trim the woody stem off the tomatoes and then quarter. Using your fingers, gently press out the pulpy seed sections. Do not worry about getting it all, just the majority. The tomatoes get blended so any leftovers will be pulverized.
- Toss the tomatoes, onion, carrots, garlic, parsley, olive oil, sea salt, pepper and Italian seasoning in a large mixing bowl, coating well. Spread the mixture into a single layer on a large, rimmed baking sheet. It is important to use a baking sheet larger than what you think you need so they all have enough space for heat to circulate around. If they are crowded or stacked, it will take longer to develop the depth of flavor we are looking for.
- Roast the veggies, turning once halfway through cooking to get the other sides evenly browned.
- Transfer everything in the rimmed baking sheet, veggies and all of the remaining liquids, to a large Dutch oven or pot. Add the broth and fresh basil and using an immersion blender to smooth out the soup. It might still be textured. I like mine to still have some chunks.
- Simmer, stirring occasionally until it has reduced slightly and flavors marry, approximately 30 minutes. Stir in the cream right before serving. Leave on low heat or else the cream runs the risk of separating.
- Ladle into bowls and top with your favorite toppings.
Why Add Baking Soda to Tomato Soup?
Baking soda is generally seen in baking, but can also be used in savory dishes to help balance the pH and help neutralize acidic foods. This not only goes for tomato soup, but many other tomato based dishes like spaghetti, marinara sauce or even ketchup and fra diavolo. It is, of course optional, but will reduce the harsh tartness of tomatoes when used in small doses. Why?
Baking soda is alkaline and thus adding it can help the acidity disappear and let the sweetness shine through. You’ll be increasing the pH, which also prevents curdling when adding diary and helps the vegetables cell structures break down for a smoother soup. All around, it is a win!
Best Toppings for Tomato Soup
I’m a big fan of customizing each bowl or at least giving options, even if it is just hubby and myself. Here are our favorite add-ins.
- Avocado slices
- Sour cream or crema mexicana
- Saltine crackers
- Fresh basil strips
- Maldon sea salt
- Parmesan crisps
Storage & Freezing
Soups are excellent for leftovers or freezing, but please be mindful that any chilled soup tends to lose a little potency and should be reseasoned after being reheated.
Store leftovers in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to a week. To freeze, allow the soup to cool fully, then place in an airtight container or even plastic bag and allow for a little room for air and expansion.
More Easy Soup Recipes
Creamy Tomato Soup
- 2 pounds roma or plum tomatoes
- 1 large yellow onion ,cut into eighths
- 6 large garlic cloves , skinned, ends chopped
- 1/2 cup carrots
- 1/3 cup flat parsley , coarsely chopped
- 2-3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 teaspoon coarse sea salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon Italian Seasoning
- 1 1/2 cups low sodium vegetable broth
- 1/3 cup fresh basil , minced
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Cut off the woody stem of the tomatoes and then quarter. Using your fingers, gently press out the pulpy seed sections. Do not worry about getting it all, just the majority.
- Toss the tomatoes, onion, carrots, garlic, parsley, olive oil, sea salt, pepper and Italian seasoning in a large mixing bowl. Spread the mixture into a single layer on a large, rimmed baking sheet.
- Roast for 45 minutes, turning once halfway through cooking.
- Transfer the whole pan, juices and all, to a large Dutch oven or pot. Add the broth and fresh basil and using an immersion blender to smooth out the soup. It might still be textured.
- Simmer over low heat for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in the cream until fully combined. Blend again, if desired.
- Ladle into bowls and serve hot.
- If you've tried this recipe, come back and let us know how you liked it in the comments or ratings.