Classic Tomato Soup

I can’t think of a more comforting, perfect meal to serve before or after a chilly trick-or-treating fest for the kids then this tomato soup and our favorite (simple!) tuna melts. (Yeah, yeah, I know chili is the popular Halloween fare but my kids aren’t huge chili lovers and I’d rather their bellies be full of something other than Halloween candy so out goes the chili in favor of this soup). This tomato bisque soup I posted years ago is delish; the tomato soup today is a bit more classic in ingredients and flavor but equally tasty. It is thick and rich and the brilliant addition of baking soda tames the tomatoes into a sweet blend of silky soup. My kids go nuts when I serve this – but only if I offer a dippable option (read: grilled cheese, tuna melts, something along those lines). They aren’t exactly keen on slurping up tomato soup on it’s own but provided with a dipper and they are good to go. I, on the other hand, could drink this straight from the bowl; it’s that good.

What To ServeAs for the tuna melts, there isn’t really a recipe – I mix up some albacore white tuna with a bit of light mayo and a splash of yellow mustard and slather it on a piece of thick, hearty, good-quality bread (like this divine rustic bread), top it with tomatoes, salt and pepper, and a slice of Swiss or Monterey Jack cheese and broil to perfection. Very yum.

Happy Halloween! 

*As a sidenote, my thoughts and prayers are very much with those dealing with the devastation of Hurricane Sandy – hang in there, friends, and please stay safe!

**As a second sidenote, sorry for the false alarm on going no-treats on you for a year. My sweet 7-year old crumbled last night in the face of cookie dough fudge (I mean, wouldn’t you?). He still isn’t into the whole trick-or-treating and storing up candy thing (my other kids think he’s certifiably loopy) so he’ll be passing it out with me tonight instead of gathering his own loot, but it looks like we’ll just stick to our normal plan of sweets and treats in moderation. He gave it his all for a good week – I’m proud of him (and let’s be serious, I’m breathing a huge sigh of relief here that me and my chocolate chips can now be reunited).

Tuna Melt

Classic Tomato Soup

Yield: Serves 6-8

Classic Tomato Soup

Note: This soup can be made up to three days in advance and refrigerated in a covered container. Warm over medium-low heat to serve.


  • 2 (28-ounces each) cans diced tomatoes
  • 3/4 cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda (cuts the acidity of the tomatoes)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream or fat free half-and-half


  1. In a colander set over a large bowl or a liquid measuring cup, drain the canned tomatoes, pressing lightly to release all of their juices. Transfer the tomato juice to a large measuring cup (if you didn't strain the liquid into one in the first place) and add the chicken broth. The mixture should measure about 3 1/2 cups. Set the liquid and the tomatoes aside.
  2. Melt the butter in a 4- 5-quart pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until it is softened, about 3-5 minutes. Add 2/3 of the drained tomatoes, the bay leaf and the brown sugar. Cook for about 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes are sizzling and fragrant. The mixture will be very thick.
  3. Stir in the tomato paste and the flour. Cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture begins to darken, 1-2 minutes. Slowly stir in the reserved tomato juice/broth mixture, the remaining tomatoes, baking soda and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Bring the soup to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until slightly thickened, about 5-7 minutes. Remove from the heat.
  4. Discard the bay leaf. Puree the soup in batches (in a blender) or use an immersion blender to puree the soup. Stir in the cream and season with salt and pepper. Serve warm.

Recipe Source: adapted from Cook’s Country Feb/Mar 2011

43 Responses to Classic Tomato Soup (and Tuna Melts!)

  1. Chris Dietz says:

    This soup is fabulous….I added 1 grated carrot with the onions and added 1 tsp. white sugar…this is the best tomato soup and is better than Nordstrom Cafes’.
    Thanks, Mel…I have now printed off almost every soup off your website!

  2. Kate says:

    We love this soup and have made it over and over. If anyone’s wondering, coconut cream (from the top of a can of coconut milk) makes a great dairy-free substitute for the cream in this recipe.

  3. Stephanie says:

    Once again (as always), you’ve given us another winner. We just ate this for dinner (with parmesan crusted grilled cheese) and I almost died from the deliciousness of it. My kids were raving about it, which is saying something. This recipe is DEFINITELY a keeper.

  4. Rebecca says:

    It does taste like Nordstrom tomato soup its DELICIOUS! Everything you make is out of this world good and makes it worth taking the time to cook! Thanks Mel!

  5. Nadia says:

    AMAZING!! Tastes just like the Tomato Soup at Nordstrom’s Cafe!!!!

  6. Becca says:

    My family loves this soup. Even my very picky kids (ages 1-11) loved it with grilled cheese sandwiches for dunking. In fact, I have a can of condensed tomato soup in my pantry that no one wants anymore because they prefer this homemade version.

  7. Terry says:

    I was really looking forward to this soup, but, to me, it seemed sort of bland and not really worth the trouble to make it. I followed the instructions to the letter and it looks good and has a good consistency, but just not what I expected.

  8. Melanie A. says:

    I have been trying one tomato soup recipe after another and now I can finally stop! We loved this soup and it will replace my old standby. Thank you!

  9. Kelly says:

    Can I freeze this?

  10. jenna says:

    I made this soup tonight for dinner and my husband, who is the chef at our house, requested I post a thank you to Melanie! He LOVED it. Of course I loved it. Another home run from Melanie. Thank you, thank you!

  11. Jocelyn in Idaho says:

    We just made this last night and it is a keeper! So good!!! I am having left overs with a grilled cheese for lunch today. Thanks for the recipe!!!

  12. Carrie K says:

    Ohhhhh….this was sooo good! My family loved it! This is a keeper! So happy for you and your family with the move!

  13. Kristina says:

    Hi! I just found your website yesterday via a friend and I’m already trying this soup…it’s almost ready and smells delish!

  14. Jocelyn in Idaho says:

    Thanks that is what I figured that it would be about a quart and a 1/2 of my tomatoes! I can’t wait to try this. It is snowing here and grilled cheese with tomato soup is my favorite dark weather meal!!

  15. Mel says:

    Jocelyn – you’ll need about 7 cups of tomatoes.

  16. Jocelyn in Idaho says:

    If I canned my own tomatoes this year in quart size jars how much would I need to equal your two cans?

  17. Courtney says:

    Tomato soup is my favorite, and this will be great for using up the ridiculous amount of diced tomatoes I have. Thanks!

  18. Mel says:

    bluebaker – I’m not completely sure, but I think you’ll get more flavor by cooking the tomatoes unpureed first. Do you have an immersion blender? That could eliminate the hot liquid in blender factor.

  19. Melanie Erickson says:

    I made this tomato soup last night and LOVED it! I will now add this to our regular menu rotation. It was perfect for a rainy night.

  20. bluebaker says:

    Hi Mel-
    I was wondering if you could puree the tomatoes before they go in, rather than
    putting hot soup in a blender. ( I’m kinda scared of hot soup explosions!).

  21. Jackie says:

    You are amazing! I got on your website today just to search for a good tomato soup recipe! I figured after all the Halloween candy we could use something packed full of vitamins.
    We love tuna melts too. I always add diced celery and shredded carrots to the tuna- anything to pack in a few extra veggies.

  22. Minnesota Red says:

    While this soup looks wonderful, I am having a bit of an attack over the words “cookie dough fudge” that you tossed off in the last paragraph up there….may we hope that such a divine thing is making its way to us?

    I love your site!

  23. Cammee says:

    My daughter will not give up the canned tomato soup. I have tried dozens of recipes and she turns her nose up to every single one and buys her own canned tomato soup. It doesn’t help that her favorite meal is tomato soup and grilled cheese. I’m praying this one will pass the test!

    How cute is your little guy? Tell him a week is a VERY long time to last without treats!

  24. Yum, grilled cheese and tuna sandwiches with tomato soup reminds me of childhood. Kudos to your little guy for trying something hard AND for being flexible enough to rethink things:)

  25. Judy F. says:

    This looks yummy, though I don’t like the taste of tomato paste so I will probably substitute for sauce. I was just reading The Italian Dish blog and she said adding a bit of grated carrots will also help cut the acidity. She adds it to her marinara. Just a thought.

  26. Kim in MD says:

    Oh, Mel…how I have missed you! Thankfully, my friends and family are all safe after hurricane Sandy pounded us. It was very scary, but we are so blessed that we are safe and our homes are intact in my area. Our power has been restored, and I couldn’t wait to see what you have been cooking up. I love, love, love creamy tomato soup, and this looks so delicious! I think I have everything on hand to make it, so this will probably be lunch today!

  27. Mary says:

    Grilled cheese and tomato soup was already on the menu for our pre trick-or-treat meal this week, and when I awoke to find this recipe on Halloween morning, I knew we had to try it. I mean, when have I ever gone wrong with one of your recipes? (Never!). Well, I am happy to report this tomato soup was no less than spectacular (or should I say spooktacular in honor of Halloween?). I can’t wait to eat leftovers for lunch tomorrow. Thanks for all of your amazing recipes, Mel! Your blog inspires me to create wonderful meals for my family!!! Keep them coming!

  28. Terry Bridges says:

    Tomato soup and tuna-cheese melts are a favorite in this house.

    My daughter gave me this recipe she got from a post somewhere and it is really good:
    1 ea. 24oz can crushed tomatoes (I use Muir Glen)
    1 ea. peeled medium onion, cut in half
    3 tbs unsalted butter (no substitute)

    Put all three (!) ingredients in a sauce pan, bring to a boil, reduce to simmer, cover pan and let dance for 40 minutes. Throw the onion away. Puree (if you like). Season to taste. O.M.G. it is delicious, tastes like the best bisque you have ever had. If I hadn’t already put a meat loaf and some potatoes in the oven, this is what I would have for supper. Tomorrow for sure.

    Your recipes and menus are always a hit. You have no idea how disappointed I am when there is nothing from you waiting for me in my Reader. Of course I don’t expect you to have a life. LOL

  29. While I was not a big tomato lover when I was a kid, I LOVED tomato soup. My favorite dipper though, was something I find very unappetizing today, Cheetos! LOL! Now I am more sophisticated and still love me a big bowl of tomato soup, but choose grilled cheese sandwiches, crackers, or buttery toast as a dipper.

  30. Debra says:

    Thank you, so perfect for these days. 🙂

  31. carrian says:

    I love comfort anything. I have a hard time coming out with a perfectly red soup. I think I add too much cream. :/

  32. Weird…I was just thinking about grilled cheese and tomato soup! I think it’s a sign I need to try this 🙂

  33. melanie peterson says:

    thank you Susan Geyer!

  34. Heather says:

    I tried the baking soda trick while cooking fresh tomatoes once and they turned dark and smelled oddly of pretzels. I still like to use it when making tomato soup from cans though, and this sounds great for the weather we’re having.
    Oh, and shucks about your sweets thing. I was *just* getting ready to sign up to be your taste-tester 😉 Happy Halloween!

  35. Susan Geyer says:

    Looks divine! I’m crazy about tomato soup! @Melanie Peterson, if you substitute cornflour or GF flour for the all-purpose flour it will be gluten-free.

  36. melanie peterson says:

    Mel-I’ve been frantically looking for a recipe to serve with my chopped salad platter for a special guest at our dinner party this sat. The guest eats gluten free. Is this soup gluten free??? anyone??

  37. Stacey says:

    I’m going to make it tonight! It will be perfect with our “English mummies.”

  38. StephenC says:

    You are right about the comfort value of a good tomato soup, and this definitely appears to be a good one.

  39. Erikat says:

    This is a favorite in our house! My 2 yr old love to dunk and dunk her grill cheese in it! Though I have always hated slopping it out of a can! Thanks for the alternative! Happy Halloween

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