Creamy Tomato Soup with Basil

Creamy Tomato Soup with Basil:

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Elizabeth David, the author of Italian Food, says of tomato soup, “In the summer this soup can be eaten iced, accompanied by hot crostini.” (crostini are “little toasts” bread toasted and spread with olive oil, not to be confused with bruschetta, cooked in the oven and rubbed with fresh garlic and olive oil- oh the beautiful subtle details!).

My earliest memories of tomato soup come from a can of Campbell’s. For most of my youth and young adult years, Campbell’s WAS soup. I remember my mother had a copy of the coveted “Campbell’s Creative Cooking with Soup” from whence came our family classics, Tuna Noodle Casserole and the ever-popular, Cream of Mushroom Soup on Biscuits. It wasn’t until I grew up, had kids of my own and was gifted Molly Katzen’s Enchanted Broccoli Forest and the Moosewood Cookbook that I began my foray into the world of homemade soups. Molly Katzen taught me the very basics of soup-making. First add a fat such as olive oil or butter, next the aromatics – onion and/or garlic. Once those are sizzling, add the carrots, celery, potatoes, and herbs. After a good simmer, add the softer veggies, like zucchini or bell pepper. Finally add broth/tomato sauce. Viola! Soup!

I love the idea of a soup formula on which to build and create! In the Moosewood Cookbook, Molly’s spicy tomato soup follows her basic formula while using butter, dill, and mayonnaise or sour cream for the creaminess.

So after studying several of my favorite versions of tomato soup (Campbell’s notwithstanding) I landed on this rendition of Quick Tomato Soup from the Joy of Cooking. We make a roux with butter and flour as the thickener. For one version, I tried using vegan butter and it tasted great.

Oh, and by the way, don’t forget the grilled cheese sandwiches!

Creamy tomato Soup

Creamy Tomato Soup with Basil

with Video
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 1 hr
Course antipasto, Appetizer, contorno, soup course
Cuisine American, Italian
Servings 4


  • 4 large tomatoes or 28 oz can whole tomatoes
  • ½ medium onion, chopped
  • ½ cup celery and greens, chopped
  • 2 cups water or broth
  • 2 Tbsp. butter
  • 2 tbsp. flour
  • ¼ tsp. paprika
  • ½ tsp. sugar
  • 10 basil leaves, torn or chiffonade (stacked, rolled like a cigar, and cut into ribbons)
  • salt to taste


  • If using fresh tomatoes, cut in fourths, remove the cores, and cook in a large pot on the stove for about 20 minutes, partially covered, until tomatoes break down. Don't worry about removing the seeds or skins now because we will be straining this tomato broth later. For now, we want to retain all of the flavors.
    If using canned tomatoes, put in a large pot over the stove and heat for a few minutes.
  • Using a hand-mixer or put in a blender in batches, puree the tomatoes. Add onion, celery, and a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil and simmer for 30 minutes, covered.
  • To make the roux- Heat a soup pot, melt the butter and a bit at a time, add the flour, whisking all the while to prevent lumps. Keep at very low heat. Once the flour is incorporated, turn up the heat to medium and begin whisking in the water (or broth). Keep whisking and adding water.
    Once all of the liquid is added, let the mixture simmer gently, uncovered, over medium heat while stirring occasionally. Keep an eye on it, and after about 8 – 10 minutes, the mixture will be thickened, about the consistency of thin gravy. Stir in the paprika, the sugar, and a pinch of salt.
  • Remove the tomato broth from the heat and pour it through a strainer or sieve. Discard skin seeds and soft vegetables.
    Add the tomato broth to the roux, stir, bring to a simmer for 5 minutes.
    Serve immediately with a garnish of fresh basil.


Want more simple soups? …
Pumpkin Puree with Sauteed Mushrooms
Ribolitta – Florence classic

Buon appetito!
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