My velvety smooth tomato soup recipe is never too acidic, thanks to a secret ingredient that you already have in your pantry. This one-pot recipe spends just 30 minutes on the stove, making it ideal for weeknight dinners or snow day lunches. Includes step-by-step photos and a video tutorial.
The Coziest, Most Perfect Homemade Tomato Soup Recipe
My tomato soup recipe is quick and easy to make, packed full of tomato flavor, and beautifully balanced, thanks to a few key ingredients we’ll discuss below (including one that might surprise you!). It joins the ranks of some of my favorite soup recipes, and is a simple, classic family favorite.
Why You’ll Want to Try This Recipe:
- Dinner on your table — quickly and easily. A one-pot dish that can be on the table in under an hour (and most of that time is just letting things simmer so the flavor can develop). Yes, please!
- Never too acidic. Many tomato soup recipes have a reputation for being too acidic and unpleasant, but not this one. Thanks to carefully balanced ingredients and a sneaky secret ingredient that I guarantee you already have on hand (more on that below!) yours will always be beautifully flavored and never too acidic.
- Uses basic ingredients that are available year round. I opt for canned tomatoes, which means it’s perfect for these cold-weather nights when juicy summer tomatoes are a distant memory. I know you may be tempted to use fresh tomatoes, but I have several very good reasons for not do so, which you can see in the FAQ section below.
- A solid, proven tomato soup recipe ★★★★★. Since I first shared this recipe over two years ago, it’s received nothing but 5-star reviews. Readers have called this one “awesome”, “a regular family request”, “simply incredible” and “genius”. Yes, I’m blushing, and I can’t wait to hear what you think!
Let’s dive in!
What You Need
Every ingredient in this tomato soup recipe was meticulously chosen to create a balanced symphony of flavor in every spoonful. Sounds dramatic, yes, but once you taste it you’ll see what I’m talking about. While I do mention a few substitutions for convenience, it’s best to stick with the recipe as written for the best results.
- Butter. This is the base of our smooth, flavorful soup. Stick with unsalted because ideally we control the salt ourselves.
- Onion & garlic. For depth of flavor and some natural sweetness, we’ll start this soup out with some sautéed onion and garlic.
- Flour. A small amount of flour makes for a simple roux base and contributes to the velvety smooth flavor and consistency.
- Chicken broth. Or use homemade chicken stock! You can use low-sodium or regular, you’ll just need slightly more or less salt depending. For a vegetarian option, substitute vegetable broth.
- Tomatoes. Use canned, whole peeled tomatoes. San Marzano are a great choice, but I can’t always find them.
- Basil. I recommend fresh basil for optimal flavor. Shred your basil so it’s in fine strands that easily blend into the soup.
- Sugar. Adding sugar doesn’t make this soup sweet; instead, it counteracts the acidity of the tomatoes and is essential for a balanced flavor. I use this trick in many tomato-based recipes, including my popular baked ziti!.
- Cream. Just a splash makes this soup velvety smooth without being too creamy or heavy (if you’re looking for a creamy soup recipe, check out my potato soup!). Substituting milk could make your soup curdle, so stick with cream for this one.
- Baking soda. It may be unexpected, but this ingredient is a key player in any good tomato soup recipe. While cream and sugar are great tools for counteracting acidity, too much can throw off the delicate balance of flavor and even overpower the robust tomato flavor that we actually want! A pinch of baking soda balances things beautifully. I picked up this technique from Cooks Illustrated (sorry, no direct link since it’s behind a paywall!) and I’ve never looked back.
SAM’S TIP: Some tomato soup recipes call for carrots, which can help sweeten the soup and detract from the acidity of the tomatoes. Personally, I don’t care for this method or the flavor they impart in the soup (I left them out of my butternut squash soup for the same reason), and instead I opt for a combination of onions, a pinch of sugar, and baking soda instead.
This is just an overview of the ingredients I used and why. For the full recipe please scroll down to the bottom of the post!
How to Make Tomato Soup
- Melt butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add onions and cook until softened, then add garlic and cook until fragrant.
- Sprinkle flour over the garlic and onions and cook, stirring constantly, until smooth. Cook a minute longer while stirring, this toasts the flour and develops the flavor.
- Crush the tomatoes (use your hands before adding them or just crush in the pot with your spoon) and stir them (and all their juices!) into the soup.
- Stir in the seasonings and bring to a boil, then reduce your heat and simmer to let the flavor develop.
- Use an immersion blender (⬅️added an affiliate link for mine, I love it!) to puree the soup until completely smooth.
- Add the cream and baking soda. The soup will foam and lighten in color — it should be looking gorgeous about right now. Always check seasonings and taste-test before serving. If the soup tastes bland at all, a bit more salt will do the trick, that doesn’t just apply to this tomato soup recipe but just about anything you’ll ever find yourself cooking.
SAM’S TIP: If you don’t have an immersion blender, just puree the soup in batches using a traditional blender and then return it to the pot to finish.
Frequently Asked Questions
While this is controversial, the truth is that some recipes should always be made with fresh tomatoes (like bruschetta or salsa), while others (like homemade pizza sauce or marinara sauce) do better with canned tomatoes. I prefer using canned tomatoes, and here’s why:
Canned tomatoes are more uniform in flavor and will give you more consistent results. Fresh tomatoes will almost always yield a watery soup, even if they taste delicious straight off the vine, and truly excellent tomatoes are usually only available a few months out of the year. Your results and flavor will vary significantly with fresh tomatoes. If you opt to use them anyway, you should roast and peel them first.
In summary: for consistency, texture, flavor, and ease, I recommend canned tomatoes for tomato soup.
They aren’t my first choice in this tomato soup recipe as they don’t break down as easily, typically have more additives than the whole-peeled variety, and don’t generally taste as good, but in a pinch you can substitute an equal amount of crushed tomatoes.
Dried basil isn’t ideal for best flavor, but in a pinch you could use a Tablespoon of dried basil in place of the fresh.
If you reduced the amount or eliminated the baking soda, sugar, or cream, or if you cooked your soup in a reactive (aluminum, cast iron, or copper) pot, your soup may become acidic.
Always make sure you’re using a non-reactive pot when cooking tomatoes, and taste-test, adding more baking soda (very sparingly!), sugar, or cream if your soup needs it.
SAM’S TIP: A non-reactive pot is absolutely essential for this tomato soup recipe, or it will turn out bitter and metallic-tasting. Avoid cast iron (enameled cast iron is fine, black/non-enameled is not), copper, aluminum, or non-stainless steel. Instead, opt for an enameled cast iron, ceramic, or stainless steel.
What can I serve with tomato soup?
- For a complete meal: Serve with a side salad and grilled cheese or a crusty bread (artisan bread or sourdough are great homemade options).
- Top it off with a sprinkle of fresh grated parmesan, fresh herbs, a dollop of sour cream, cheese crackers or sourdough crackers, croutons, or even crumbled bacon.
- Just add bread! Serve in a homemade bread bowl or with a side of breadsticks or garlic knots for dipping.
Tomato Soup Recipe
- 4 Tablespoons unsalted butter
- 3 cups (400 g) sweet or yellow onion diced (about 2 medium-sized onions)
- 1 ½ Tablespoons (10 g) minced garlic about 5 cloves
- 1 ½ Tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 2 28 oz (793 g) cans whole peeled tomatoes I like to use Cento or other brands of San Marzano when I can find them
- 2 cups (473 ml) chicken broth
- ¼ cup finely sliced basil
- 2 Tablespoons granulated sugar
- ¼ teaspoon table salt
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
- ⅓ cup (80 ml) heavy cream
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- Shredded or grated parmesan cheese for topping
- Large non-reactive soup pot such as stainless steel or enameled Dutch oven. Avoid reactive metals such as non-enameled cast iron, copper, or aluminum which will make the soup taste metallic.
- Place butter in a large pot over medium heat and cook until melted.4 Tablespoons unsalted butter
- Add diced onion and cook, stirring frequently, until softened (about 5-8 minutes).3 cups (400 g) sweet or yellow onion
- Add garlic and cook until fragrant (about 30 seconds).1 ½ Tablespoons (10 g) minced garlic
- Sprinkle flour into the pot and use a spatula to stir until no lumps remain. Continue to cook another 30-60 seconds, while stirring.1 ½ Tablespoons all-purpose flour
- Add tomatoes and their juices, crushing and smashing them with your spatula and scraping the bottom of the pot as you add them until no large pieces remain.2 28 oz (793 g) cans whole peeled tomatoes
- Stir in chicken broth, basil, sugar, salt and black pepper and stir well.2 cups (473 ml) chicken broth, ¼ cup finely sliced basil, 2 Tablespoons granulated sugar, ¼ teaspoon table salt, ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
- Bring soup to a boil. Once boiling, reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for 20-30 minutes to allow the flavors to develop.
- After simmering, use an immersion blender to puree the soup until completely smooth (alternatively, puree the soup in batches using a traditional blender and then return to the pot).
- Stir in cream and baking soda, stirring until smooth, cohesive in color, and not foamy. Taste-test and add salt and pepper as needed.⅓ cup (80 ml) heavy cream, ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- Portion into bowls and serve topped with grated parmesan cheese. This soup is excellent for dipping grilled cheese or just served with a side salad and some crusty artisan bread!Shredded or grated parmesan cheese
TomatoesThis recipe was specifically written for canned whole tomatoes, as fresh tomatoes simply do not guarantee the same flavor and results (you can see my post for more information on this). Crushed tomatoes may be substituted in a pinch but are not my preference.
Heavy creamHeavy cream, whipping cream, double cream, or heavy whipping cream will work well in this recipe. I don’t recommend using whole milk or anything with less fat as it could cause the soup to curdle. While I have not tried this recipe with full-fat coconut milk, I suspect it could work as a non-dairy alternative.
Baking sodaA tiny pinch of baking soda works wonders to mellow the taste without diminishing the distinct tomato flavor.
StoringStore in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. This recipe also freezes well and will keep frozen for several months.
Nutritional information is based on third-party calculations and should be considered an estimate only. Actual nutritional content will vary based upon brands used, measuring methods, cooking method, portion sizes, and more.