How to Make Creamy Tomato Soup Without the Cream: 3 Brilliant Tips

We're deep in it. Soup season, that is. And in my opinion, there's not much more comforting than a steaming bowl of creamy tomato soup. But is there a way to achieve that blissful flavor without the heavy cream?

Over Christmas, my family ate at a great Italian restaurant in the Bay Area and I ordered tomato soup to start. It was the most luxurious, creamy tomato soup I've ever had and I asked about the recipe. Our waiter explained that it actually didn't have any cream at all, but instead the chef whisked in olive oil at the end which created an interesting emulsion and tricked the senses into thinking it was a much creamier soup than it really was.

When I came home, I did a little research to see what other ways and approaches people used to achieve the feeling of a cream-based soup without the cream. I'm here to report that I've tried each of the tips below, and they all work brilliantly.

Three Tips for Making Tomato Soup Creamy (Without Cream)

1. Puree Bread Chunks: Adding bits of bread to a traditional tomato soup base and pureeing them gives the soup a thick, almost creamy texture. I like this recipe from Serious Eats.

3) Whisk in Olive Oil: While I haven't found a specific recipe that uses this approach, I tried exactly what our waiter instructed and the soup was delicious. I will say that it was tough to create a perfect emulsion because the oil wanted to separate from the soup, so I usually added a few chunks of bread and oil and this seems to work perfectly.

3. A Glug of Coconut Milk: Sure, coconut milk certainly has its fair share of fat, so if eliminating fat is the goal, this likely won't be the approach you choose (although low-fat coconut milk works great here, too). But I love the silky texture and mellow flavor that even half a can of coconut milk relays to a tomato soup recipe. My current favorite version is 101 Cookbooks' Simple Tomato Soup.

Do you have any great tips for reaching creamy tomato soup bliss without the cream?

Related: Blogging Cook's Illustrated: Creamy Creamless Tomato Soup

(Image: Dana Velden)