Cool weather brings on the craving for cozy comfort foods like steaming bowls of soups, stews, chiles, and chowders. Creamy tomato soup is the perfect seasonal soup to transition from the bright tomato flavors of late summer into the crisp evenings of October. The secret to creamy tomato soup isn't in the preparations, but in the ingredients.
What Makes This Creamy
Heavy cream is the best way to get that classic creamy flavor we know and love. In its place I have tried, to no avail, every other dairy for creamy tomato soup: half-and-half works in a pinch, milk makes the soup too thin, and yogurt is too acidic. Once I even tried almond milk (too sweet). Coconut milk will produce a creamy soup, but it will strongly alter the flavor as well; start with half the amount if you're using it in place of the cream.
Choose Canned Tomatoes
Decent fresh tomatoes are hard to find after September, so a reliable tomato soup (one that can be enjoyed year-round) starts with canned tomatoes. This recipe calls for crushed tomatoes, which may seem unusual for a soup headed to the blender anyway, but whole tomatoes require more blending and diced tomatoes often contain additives that keep their shape. Up the tomato flavor ante by adding just a tablespoon of tomato paste to the pot of soup, too.
Thickening the Soup
Tomato soup can be a bit thin, especially with the addition of cream at the end of cooking, so flour is added to the sautéing aromatics to thicken the soup. If wheat is an issue for you or your fellow diners, feel free to skip it.
A gluten-free alternative: Here Is My Favorite Gluten-Free Way to Thicken a Soup
How To Make Creamy Tomato Soup
What You Need
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 large yellow onion, diced
1 medium carrot, peeled and diced
1 medium celery stalk, diced
2 cloves garlic
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 cup heavy cream
- Sauté the aromatics: Melt the butter in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onions, carrot, celery, and garlic. Cook, stirring frequently, until the vegetables are softened, about 8 minutes.
- Add the flour: Add the flour and cook until the mixture no longer appears dry. Remove from the heat.
- Purée: Add the tomatoes, broth, and sautéed aromatics into a blender and purée until smooth. Return the purée to the pot.
- Cook: Cover and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the soup comes to a simmer and thickens slightly, about 20 minutes.
- Serve: Remove the soup from the heat and whisk in the heavy cream. Serve immediately.
- Storage: Leftover soup can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 5 days or frozen for up to 3 months.
- Reheating: Reheat leftovers over low heat to avoid separating the cream.