Served piping hot with a golden-brown grilled cheese sandwich, classic tomato soup conjures up memories of the crisp fall days of our youth. Most of us probably enjoyed the canned stuff as kids, but making a flavorful tomato soup from scratch isn’t much harder than opening a few cans of tomatoes, sautéing some aromatic vegetables, and blending it all together.
Canned Tomatoes Are Best
While fresh ripe summer tomatoes can make a lovely tomato soup, when it comes to mastering classic tomato soup, canned is best. Canned tomatoes provide a consistent soup whether you’re making it October or January. You can use whole canned tomatoes or even canned diced tomatoes for making this soup in a pinch, but I’ve found crushed tomatoes have the right amount of acidity and flavor and don’t require as much blending time.
Classic tomato soup also gets a potent dose of concentrated tomato flavor from tomato paste. While the amount is small, you really shouldn’t skip or substitute this for any other tomato product. Keep both canned tomatoes and tomato paste on hand for tomato soup anytime.
Blend First, Then Cook
Blending hot soup is a deceptively tricky kitchen task. Whether you’re trying to move hot soup into a blender jar or trying to get a smooth soup with an immersion blender, hot soup ends up splattered everywhere. Beyond being a mess, blending hot soup can also be a little dangerous. Instead, blend the tomatoes and sautéed aromatics before cooking. This step might seem unnatural at first, but sautéing the onions and garlic before blending it ensures the bite of those aromatics is cooked out without overcooking the soup.
This recipe calls for a bit of flour to thicken the soup, but feel free to skip it if wheat is an issue for you. The soup won’t thicken quite as well, but it will still be full of flavor.
How To Make Classic Tomato Soup
What You Need
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 large sweet onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 (28-ounce) cans crushed tomatoes
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 tablespoon orange juice
2 bay leaves
Dutch oven or large pot
Measuring cups and spoons
Blender or immersion blender
- Sauté the aromatics: Melt the butter in large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onions, garlic, and 1/2 teaspoon salt, and cook, stirring frequently, until the onions have softened, about 8 minutes.
- Add the flour: Add the flour and cook until it no longer appears dry. Remove from the heat.
- Purée: Pour the crushed tomatoes into a blender. Add the sautéed onions and garlic and purée until smooth. Return the purée to the pot.
- Add the seasonings: Add the tomato paste, orange juice, and bay leaves. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the soup comes to a simmer and thickens slightly, about 20 minutes.
- Serve: Remove the bay leaves and season with additional salt and freshly grated nutmeg as desired.
- Storage: Store leftover soup in the refrigerator for up to 5 days or freeze for up to 3 months.
- Flour: This recipe calls for a bit of flour to thicken the soup, but feel free to skip it if wheat is an issue for you. The soup won’t thicken quite as well, but it will still be full of flavor.