5 Things We Do for Better Tomato Soup

published Oct 16, 2016
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(Image credit: Lauren Volo)

Rich tomato soup is a classic recipe rivaled only by maybe chicken noodle or matzo ball in nostalgia. While you might have a go-to recipe, there are always things you can do to soup to boost the flavor. For tomato soup in particular, here are a few things you can do to make it better every time.

(Image credit: Lauren Volo)

1. Add herbs.

This probably isn’t a surprise, as basil and tomatoes are a delicious duo. But think beyond basil — rosemary and thyme can add earthiness; chives and parsley showered on top add a fresh finish; even freshly chopped mint (maybe with some feta cheese) can add a refreshing pop of flavor to every spoonful.

(Image credit: Christine Han)

2. Stir in butter, cream, or coconut milk.

I always like to add a splash of something creamy to my tomato soup; it adds a richness and mouthfeel you’ll never get with tomatoes alone. Cream may be the first thing that comes to mind, but butter and coconut milk can be just as good. A small pat of butter stirred into the pot at the end of cooking can make the smooth soup feel luxurious without being overly indulgent. You might taste a whisper of coconut, but coconut milk can have a very similar effect.

(Image credit: Faith Durand)

3. Use tomato paste for intensity.

For the most intense tomato flavor, include a couple tablespoons of tomato paste. To get the most out of it, add it to the pan when aromatics like onion and garlic are softened, but before adding the tomatoes. Let the paste cook, stirring frequently, for a few minutes, or until it starts to darken in color. Be sure to scrape the bottom of the pot with a wooden spoon once you’ve added the tomatoes and any liquid to get all the caramelized brown bits of flavor off the bottom and incorporated into the soup.

(Image credit: Christine Gallary)

4. Use canned tomatoes for consistency.

For the most consistent flavor, it’s best to use canned tomatoes. They’re canned while fresh, which makes them much better options than the mealy tomatoes available during the off season.

(Image credit: Dana Velden)

5. Don’t forget a drizzle before serving.

This is the last opportunity to add any more flavor to the soup — a drizzle, dollop, or stir-in can change the whole dynamic. If you want a soup that’s extra creamy, stir in crème fraîche, sour cream, or Greek yogurt. A spoonful of pesto adds herbs, garlic, cheese, and sometimes a nutty element. Even a dash of balsamic vinegar can add a sweet and tart moment.