The Best Classic Tomato Soup

Easy and fast, this is the best classic tomato soup recipe ever! It’s been a tried-and-true favorite for years. With grilled cheese? YUM!

the best classic tomato soup in white bowl with swirl of heavy cream

Everyone needs a classic homemade tomato soup recipe in their back pocket, and this one is incredible!

We eat this tomato soup several times a month. Because a) homemade tomato soup is really good and really easy and b) grilled cheese. 

Is there any better combo than that?? At least in our house, there are never any complaints when tomato soup + grilled cheese appear at dinner.

This tomato soup is super simple! It can be made several days ahead of time AND it freezes great, too.

bowl of classic tomato soup with grilled cheese croutons

Canned Tomatoes: Keep an Open Mind

What I love about this tomato soup is that it uses pantry staple ingredients like canned tomatoes. 

Don’t be hatin’ on canned tomatoes. They make really amazing tomato soup and are available all year long! 

The key to this recipe is to drain the juice from the diced tomatoes. You’ll use both the juice AND the tomatoes, but separating them helps build layers of flavor as you’ll see in a minute.

straining diced tomatoes in fine mesh strainer

Cooking the drained tomatoes with the onions and simple seasonings until the mixture is thick and fragrant adds flavor and eliminates the “tinny” taste of canned tomatoes. 

The rich tomato flavor is also helped along by a little bit of tomato paste. It’s amazing how it helps boost the tomato flavor!

cooking tomatoes and onions in pot for tomato soup

The cooked tomato mixture simmers for a couple of minutes with a little broth and then it’s time to blend it all up! 

cooking tomato soup in pot

How to Blend

You can use an immersion blender or traditional blender for this recipe. There are pros and cons to each one. 

Using an immersion blender means you can blend the tomato soup right on location and not worry about venting the lid of a traditional blender while you risk life and limb to puree lava-like liquids.

Cleanup is also a little easier with an immersion blender. 

However, I’ve found that an immersion blender doesn’t get the soup as pristinely smooth as a traditional blender does, so if you want it ultra-silky and smooth, you might want to transfer it in batches to a blender and puree that way.  

*This is the immersion blender I have (and might be why it doesn’t get really smooth; it’s decent, but older) – this one has a bazillion more reviews and is cheaper? Might be a good option. {aff. links}

blending classic tomato soup in pot with immersion blender

Creamy Tomato Soup…Or Not

After the soup is blended, you can add a smidgeon of half-and-half or heavy cream for a cream of tomato soup vibe. 

It adds a delicious, mellow vibe to the vibrant soup. 

Usually I leave it out and add a little swirl of cream to individual servings of those that want it. 

spoonful of classic tomato soup in white bowl with grilled cheese croutons

If you don’t have a go-to tomato soup recipe yet, this really is the best classic tomato soup recipe. I highly recommend making it yours forever!

Here are a few rave reviews from others:

Heidi: Mel, this tomato soup is delicious. Have a half dozen recipes for tomato soup and this is the best by far.

Kate: 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.

Megan: I just made this for dinner tonight (along with grilled cheese), and my kids declared it the best tomato soup I’ve ever made. And I’ve made many different tomato soup recipes.

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Classic Tomato Soup

Yield: 6-8 servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes
the best classic tomato soup in white bowl with swirl of heavy cream

Ingredients

  • 2 cans (28-ounces each) diced tomatoes
  • 3/4 cup chicken or vegetable broth, more or less (I use low sodium)
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup diced onion (about 1 medium onion)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda (see note)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream or fat free half-and-half (optional)

Instructions

  1. In a strainer set over a large bowl or a liquid measuring cup, drain the canned tomatoes, pressing lightly to release all of the juice. You may have anywhere from 2-3 cups juice from the tomatoes (depending on the brand).
  2. Add broth to the tomato juice to equal 3 1/2 cups total. Set tomatoes and liquid aside.
  3. In a 4- or 5-quart pot set over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the onion and cook until translucent, about 3-5 minutes. Add about 2/3 of the drained tomatoes, the bay leaf and the brown sugar. Cook for about 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes are sizzling and fragrant. The mixture will be thicken as it cooks.
  4. Stir in the tomato paste and the flour. Cook, stirring constantly, for 1-2 minutes.
  5. 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.
  6. Remove from the heat and discard the bay leaf. Puree the soup until smooth (using an immersion blender or transferring the soup in batches to a regular blender). Stir in the cream, if using, and season to taste with salt and pepper, if needed.

Notes

Baking Soda: the baking soda cuts the acidity of the tomatoes and mellows out the flavor.

Make Ahead: this soup can be made up to three days in advance and refrigerated in a covered container. Warm over medium-low heat to serve. It also freezes really well!

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Recipe Source: adapted from Cook’s Country Feb/Mar 2011
Recipe originally published Oct 2012; updated Oct 2020 with new photos, recipe notes, etc.

Classic Tomato Soup

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