Rare is the recipe that is as equally good in the summer as it is in the winter. Usually a dish preferences one or the other.
Burgers are better in the summer because you can grill them on your back patio.
Meatloaf is better in the winter because it’s hearty, warm, and dense.
Salads are better in the summer because they are fresh and light.
Casseroles are better in the winter because they are thick and filling.
It’s not that a dish can’t be served in either season (especially with our globalized market), it’s just that most dishes tend to taste better in one season or the other.
Not so with this tomato basil soup recipe.
It’s pretty darn good in the summer, winter—whenever you want it.
In the summer this creamy tomato basil soup can be made with fresh, garden ingredients.
Now, not everyone has a garden in their backyard. Some of us fashion ourselves more suited to “getting our hands dirty” in the kitchen than in a dirt pile. (Yes, I mean me.)
However, if you’ve never tried planting basil, do it. Seriously. Basil is super easy to plant and grow. Fresh basil means fresh tomato basil soup… YUM!
The soup already has some incredible depth in its array of flavors. But using fresh ingredients takes this dish from superb to outstanding. If you have tomato plants in your backyard, even better!
Even those of us who “don’t really think gardening is our thing” will be able to find fresher ingredients in the summer. Just check your local market!
This creamy tomato basil soup isn’t just good for the summer, it’s a spectacular winter dish as well.
We all know that soup serves well in the winter (who doesn’t want a bellyful of hot soup on a snowy winter night?!), but this recipe is especially nice for warming up cold hands and bodies. It has just a little bit of kick—not enough to be spicy, but enough to get your blood pumping again after a winter freeze.
( Tip: Consider adding an extra 1/2 teaspoon of sugar in the winter. Tomatoes won’t be as fresh in the winter, which means they’ll lose a little of their sweetness.)
Those who follow my site know that I generally offer some recommendations about how to serve a dish.
With this roasted tomato soup recipe, I want to advocate a little more strongly. Serve this soup with a crusty, homemade bread. I can’t get enough of this combination.
A good, warm homemade bread dipped into this delicious soup is just… wow.
Typically, I’ll make the soup the day before, and keep it chilled in the fridge. I make the homemade bread on the day of, and warm up the soup. I top the soup with a little grated parmesan (or not if my bread already has cheese in it).
Of course, the old classic still works. A warm grilled cheese sandwich is a wonderful, simple addition to this easy tomato basil soup.
This is a really versatile recipe too.
It can work as an appetizer, or the main dish. It makes a wonderful light lunch time meal, but is filling enough to serve as a full-on dinner. It’s thick enough to serve over pasta—my family loves using it as a red sauce—and thin enough to dip breads and sandwiches in.
Plus, it freezes well. I love making a double batch and freezing half.
Then I have a quick meal ready whenever I need it! Having frozen soup around is also great for when I need to bring someone a meal.
A friend of mine was sick just last week and I brought her a tub of this fantastic soup.
Stock: Homemade chicken stock is way, way better than store-bought stuff. It will add a pretty significant amount of cook time, but the results are wonderful. Check out my recipe for homemade chicken stock here.
If you don’t have chicken stock available, water will work. Just be aware that this will produce a much less flavorful soup.
It’s pretty darn easy to make this recipe vegetarian. Simply using a vegetarian stock (or water) in place of the chicken stock will make a perfect vegetarian alternative for those so inclined.
If you prefer a thinner soup (this is a chunky tomato basil soup), use chicken stock to thin out the recipe a little.
Food Mill: Wanna know a (not so) secret? I love my food mill. It’s a little old-fashioned, but coming back into style.
This recipe especially benefits from having a food mill. Don’t bother skinning the tomatoes—the mill will do it for you. It should take out most of the tomato seeds as well!
If you want a chunkier, denser soup than the recipe produces, only pass 1/2 or 1/3 of the dish through the food mill.
If you don’t happen to have a food mill you can use a Stick Blender or blender.
Using a little heavy cream with this recipe can make an excellent tomato basil bisque. This will be a little creamier, and a little heavier than the soup is.
To make that tomato basil bisque vegan, substitute coconut milk for heavy cream.
Those who love spice can add extra red pepper flakes to really heat this soup up. Be careful though! I wouldn’t add too much extra until you’ve tried the original recipe. The simmering process really spices up the ingredients. Too many additional red pepper flakes could make this recipe to spicy for your taste!
If I could only make two suggestions for this recipe, it would be to use real butter and fresh basil. Those ingredients really make the dish.
This is a pretty straightforward recipe to follow. It takes about two hours to get everything to cook right, but it’s an easy two hours.
Don’t skimp on the simmering time. You may be tempted to pull the pot off early to save some precious minutes, but this might ruin the recipe. The soup needs to simmer long enough to allow the sugar and salt to fully dissolve.
If you’re in the experimental mood, try these additions and variations:
- Top with some shredded mozzarella cheese
- Top with crumbled cooked bacon
- Add a chopped jalapeno pepper or habanero pepper when you saute the onion.
- Finish with a dollop of sour cream on the top of the soup.
What else can you create? Let me know in the comments.
Yes, the quantity of basil in this recipe, 4 cups, is correct. While you can reduce the overall amount, I think the current balance is perfect.
To make a more healthy tomato basil soup, cut back on the salt and oil.
More Soup Recipes to Try!
Chicken Tortellini Soup -One dish dinner loaded with juicy chunks of chicken, tender tortellini, veggies and a bit of sausage.
Easy Potato Soup – Comfort food, warm, quick, and easy to make!
Lasagne Soup – Rich tomato base soup loaded with Italian sausage, pasta, mushroom, and spinach!
Vegetable Beef Soup – This is loaded with tender chunks of beef, incredibly rich broth, and all the right veggies!
Creamy Chicken and Wild Rice Soup– Lusciously creamy and loaded with chunks of chicken, great veggies and wonderful wild rice mix!
Tomato Basil Soup
- Ripe Roma Tomatoes, Cut in Half - 3 Pounds
- Olive Oil - 1/4 Cup Plus 2 Tablespoons
- Salt - 1 Tablespoon
- Pepper - 1 1/2 Teaspoon
- Yellow Onion, Chopped - 2 Cups
- Garlic, Minced - 1 Tablespoon
- Butter - 2 Tablespoons
- Crushed Red Pepper Flakes - 1/4 Teaspoon
- Plum Tomatoes, With Their Juice - 1 (28 Ounce) Can
- Fresh Basil Leaves - 4 Cups
- Fresh Thyme Leaves - 1 Teaspoon
- Chicken Stock - 1 Quart
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- Mix together the cut tomatoes, 1/4 cup of olive oil, salt and pepper. Arrange the tomatoes in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Cook in a preheated oven for 45 minutes or until nicely browned.
- Saute the onion, garlic and red pepper flakes in the remaining 2 Tablespoons of olive oil and butter, over medium heat, in a large 8 quart stockpot, until the onions begin to brown. Stir in the canned tomatoes, basil, thyme and chicken stock. Stir in the roasted tomatoes, including any juices that have accumulated on the baking sheet. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered for 40 minutes. Pass through a food mill fitted with the coarsest blade or blend with a stick blender. Adjust seasonings and serve.