Classic Tomato Soup

Pantry Tomato Soup

Winter is in full force, which means it’s officially soup season. So, today, we’re kicking off a month of tasty soups, starting with this straightforward tomato recipe from Alexandra Stafford of Alexandra’s Kitchen. Here’s how to make it…

Classic Tomato Soup (adapted from Bon Appetit)
By Alexandra Stafford of Alexandra’s Kitchen

This recipe is incredibly simple, calling for nearly all pantry items: onions, garlic, tomato paste and canned peeled tomatoes. Heavy cream adds a necessary touch of richness and balances the acidity and sweetness of the tomatoes. Serve the soup with lots of freshly cracked pepper and shaved parmesan and bread, of course.

Recipe: Classic Tomato Soup
Serves 4

You’ll need:

2 tbsp unsalted butter
A few sprigs of fresh thyme
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 28-oz can whole peeled tomatoes
1 tsp sugar, optional
1/4 cup (or more) heavy cream
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Shaved Parmigiano Reggiano for serving
Fresh bread for serving

Melt butter in a large heavy pot over medium heat. Add thyme, onion and garlic. Season with salt. Cook until onion is completely soft and translucent, about 10 to 12 minutes. Increase heat to medium-high; add tomato paste. Continue cooking, stirring often, until paste has begun to caramelize in spots (about 5–6 minutes). It will begin to stick to the bottom of the pan.

Add tomatoes with juices and 4 cups water to pot. Increase heat to high; bring to a simmer. As the plum tomatoes rise to the surface while the soup simmers, use kitchen shears or a knife to cut them up. (You’ll purée it later, but somehow I think cutting them up, helps them cook down better.) Reduce heat to medium. Simmer until flavors meld and soup reduces to about 1 quart, 45 minutes or so. Remove soup from heat; discard thyme sprigs. Working in small batches, purée soup in a blender until smooth or purée with an immersion blender.

Stir in 1/4 cup cream. Taste and adjust as needed. I like adding the teaspoon of sugar, and I add at least a teaspoon of kosher salt (probably 1.5 teaspoons, but I like salt, so season to taste). I like lots of fresh cracked pepper, too. Simmer soup until flavors meld, about 5 to 10 minutes longer. Taste again, and add more cream, if desired.

Ladle soup into bowls and top with shaved Parmigiano Reggiano cheese. Serve with more pepper on the side and slices of crusty bread.

Thank you so much, Alexandra!

P.S. More recipes, including lemony white bean soup, and sweet potato minestrone.

(Recipe and photos by Alexandra Stafford. Thanks to Stella Blackmon for helping with this series.)

  1. caroline h says...

    Made this tonight and it was amazing! Sub. 2 cups chicken broth for 2 cups water. (ended up being 2 cups water + 2 cups chicken broth)
    Other than that – followed the recipe exactly. Served with green salad and a cheese board!

  2. Caroline says...

    I made this last night and it was delicious. I topped it with croutons, fresh parsley, and a drizzle of olive oil (and of course, plenty of parm). I also added chicken broth instead of water for a little extra richness. Thanks for sharing such a great, easy recipe!

  3. brianna says...

    I love tomato soup – I grew up on Campbell’s canned soup, so I’m eager to try this grown up version.

  4. Michelle says...

    Lovely recipe! Made it last night following the recipe pretty much to a T, just waited to add the thyme until the onions and garlic were already caramelized. Also added some fresh basil at the end off the heat. I found it serves only 2 as a main, or maybe 3 as a side.

  5. I love tomato soup especially on a cold and snowy day like today. I will definitely try this recipe! :)
    x Tali

  6. Yuki says...

    I’ve made this soup a dozen times since the recipe first came out. It’s an amazing soup! I usually up the heavy cream a bit, but otherwise comes out perfect anytime :) perfect for the cold weather.

  7. Thank you for making me hungry :) I think I may have to make tomato soup and grilled cheese for lunch today….perfect for this snowy day!

  8. Annelies says...

    Hi, good to have you all back! I wanted to comment on the update on your sister, but it seems the comment box doesn’t appear there. I tried in different browsers and was wondering if it is a general problem. I love to read the comments and it’s such a wonderful love story. I’m so happy for your sister. Love is a strange and beautiful thing and it’s nice to see it happen in such amazing ways. I wish them a long and happy life together.

    • Stella Blackmon says...

      Sorry about the comment trouble — just fixed! xo

  9. Tomato soup is my favorite. I will definitely have to try this recipe soon. :)

  10. Alex says...

    So interesting! No stock or broth? I’m curious what makes this a soup versus a sauce? Is there really any difference?

    • Alex says...

      Never mind. I had initially just looked at the ingredients but now I’ve read the whole thing and I see the 4c of water. Oops! Looks delicious… and I bet it would be an awesome sauce without the water :)

    • Susie says...

      I thought the same thing!?

  11. I have never put freshly shaved Parmesan into my tomato soup. Clearly I have been missing out.

  12. Emily says...

    Made last night for dinner. Can confirm it is delicious!

  13. Darien says...

    Ah, knew this was an Alexandra Stafford recipe immediately just from spotting the peasant bread peeking out in the corner! Thank you for the delicious recipe – will have to try it out soon since your recipes have yet to fail me.

    • Awwww, thanks! Your comment made me laugh :) :) :)

  14. Megan says...

    This looks so delicious and easy to make–perfect for our so-called NYC “bomb cyclone” situation. I hope the recipe works with a food mill instead of a blender! I bought one a couple years ago to make soup and have used it maybe three times. Excited to dust it off!

    • I think it will! I haven’t tried, but I love my food mill for various other things including fresh tomato sauce, so I imagine it will work here — the soup may not be silky smooth, but that wouldn’t bother me.

  15. Joanna, totally unrelated to soup, but I just saw an article about your sister in the Washington Post! I read and loved your brother-in-law’s book and Lucy’s epilogue and am so glad she’s found happiness. xo

  16. HeatherJ says...

    One of the best things I ate this past month was a friend’s homemade tomatoe soup with BLUE CHEESE! Going to be trying it with this ?

    • Yum! I also had a bowl of tomato soup last winter at a cafe that arrived with a blob of burrata in the center. So good.

  17. Kate A. says...

    Hi ALexandra, this recipe looks delicious thank you for sharing! Would a good processor work to purée the soup, I don’t have either of the other options you mentioned.

    • Yes, absolutely! A blender or food processor would work great.

  18. Sophie says...

    Absolutely love tomato soup! I usually serve it with grilled cheese to please my inner 5-year old. Recently I’ve been adding shredded zucchini, salted and left to sit for 10 min. before squeezing out the excess water, to my grilled cheese. Total game changer!

  19. Kathy says...

    But what kind of grilled cheese do I make with it? (Do people eat tomato soup without grilled cheese? Is that a thing?)

    • Denise says...

      No way. It’s not a thing. No one eats tomato soup without grilled cheese. How insane would that be?!

    • Rachael says...

      I just realized that I’m essentially eating the adult version of grilled cheese whenever I make tomato soup—I always bake baguettes, then slice them when they’re still hot and slide in a fat wedge of Brie so it gets all nice and melty. ?

  20. Karen says...

    I make a similar recipe, though I include bacon pieces, carrots, and celery (extra veggies for the kiddos!). I also make a concentrated soup, so I don’t add any chicken stock at first – I proceed with the soup minus the stock, puree it with a hand-blender and then strain it (yes, it’s kind of a pain! but I get three batches at once). Nice and compact for freezer. When re-heating, just thaw overnight, add stock (cream too, if you want).

    • Stephanie says...

      This is such a great idea!! Thanks!

  21. Kelly says...

    So funny, over the holiday weekend I ordered tomato soup at dinner and it was so good I cooked up a pot myself yesterday!

    The featured recipe looks great, but for an even easier recipe, try this one — I literally made yesterday and it was delicious!! (But definitely splurge on San Marzano tomatoes.)

  22. Carrie says...

    This sounds amazing! I’m going to try this with a hint of basil oil.

    • A drizzle of basil oil sounds amazing!