Creamy tomato basil bisque is loaded with rich tomato flavor and just the right amount of basil and parmesan. Perfect for a rainy, spring afternoon.
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When it comes to making homemade soup, creamy tomato basil bisque is by far one of my favorites. The acidity of the tomatoes, the tang of the vinegar, and smooth, creamy parmesan cheese combine for a match made for my tastebud’s dreams. With all the dreary spring rain we’ve been having out here in Napa, this soup is just what I’ve been craving.
I’ve tried a dozen or so different ways to make tomato soup over the years. I’ve roasted the tomatoes, I’ve blanched and peeled the tomatoes, and I’ve tossed them in whole, skins and seeds in all. I’ve used the slow cooker, the stove top, and even the oven in my quest for perfect tomato goodness. I’ve figured out what works, what’s worth the effort, and what at the end of the day doesn’t matter so much to my tastebuds.
What I’ve come up with is my ideal version of creamy tomato basil bisque. The fresh tomato flavor is balanced with basil, parmesan, balsamic, and cream. Pair it with my kale grilled cheese sandwich for a delicious weekend lunch.
I learned that how you cook it (slow cooker, stovetop, oven) matters less than how long you cook it. The tomatoes cook down a bit and take on the richer flavor and color. The slow cooker is great if you want to make it in advance and keep it warm all day, but you don’t necessarily need to cook it forever to achieve delicious results.
I found that I prefer the flavor of fresh tomatoes in this soup over roasted tomatoes. Roasting the tomatoes causes them to take on a meatier texture, which is great in some applications, but not necessary for this creamy tomato basil bisque. This version allows you to sub in canned tomatoes if necessary and not roasting the tomatoes saves about an hour of your time.
I do agree with removing the majority of the seeds, but not because they are bitter. When I taste tomato seeds, I don’t taste anything bitter. The seeds aren’t adding anything negative to the flavor of the soup, but they aren’t really adding anything positive either. I take them out because I don’t like the way they look. If you like them, by all means leave them in.
The skins on the other hand are a different matter entirely. The skins can create an unpleasant texture if left in big chunks. As a bisque, the soup should be fully blended until smooth. I use a stick blender, so that I don’t have to worry about the cooling and reheating the soup, and it does a great job of making those skins disappear. If you are using a high powered blender or food processor the skins should not pose a problem.
If you are a rebel and want to make this soup into a chunky version of tomato basil soup by skipping the pureeing step, you may want to peel the tomatoes. The easiest way to peel them is to score the skins, then drop the tomatoes in boiling water for 30 seconds. Next, scoop them out using a slotted spoon or mesh sieve and place them in an ice water bath. The skins should slide right off and you won’t have to worry about skins in your not so creamy tomato basil (not a bisque) soup.
The instructions for this bisque are fairly simple and straightforward. Start by removing the tops of the tomatoes, cut them in halves or quarters, remove the seeds, then rough chop the tomatoes. You should have about 8 cups of chopped tomatoes from the original three pounds. You can also sub in diced canned tomatoes if you cannot get fresh tomatoes. I recommend Hunt’s plain, no-salt added tomatoes. If you use the original with salt, you will need to reduce the added salt.
Roughly chop up half of an onion, 4 cloves of garlic, enough basil to fill 1/2 a cup and enough oregano to fill 1/4 of a cup. They don’t have to be pretty, as they will be pureed, but you can use this opportunity to work on your chopping skills. Locate your olive oil, salt, pepper,vegetable stock, balsamic vinegar and bay leaves.
I like to use my 6 quart dutch oven for this creamy tomato basil bisque. Start by heating the pan on the stove over a medium flame. Once it’s hot, add the olive oil and heat an additional minute. Stir in the onions. Give them 5 minutes to cook, stirring occasionally.
When the onions are fragrant and starting to turn a translucent golden color add the garlic and cook 1 minute longer. Then add the salt, pepper, tomatoes, basil, oregano, vegetable stock, and vinegar. Stir to combine.
Bring to a boil over high heat. Add the bay leaves on top, cover, drop heat to low and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
After 30 minutes, remove the bay leaves and puree the soup using your stick blender. You can also allow the soup to cool, then puree using a standard blender or food processor. Use caution when adding hot soup to a glass or plastic blender or food processor as it may cause the container to break or shatter.
Puree the soup until smooth. Mix the cornstarch with the cold cream, stirring to dissolve completely. Then add the cream and cornstarch, along with the grated parmesan into the soup. Stir to combine. Cover and allow to cook on low an additional 15 minutes.
Serve garnished with additional parmesan and a kale grilled cheese sandwich. Enjoy!
Have you ever made tomato soup from scratch? What’s your favorite kind of homemade soup? Let me know in the comments below!
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Creamy Tomato Basil Bisque
Creamy Tomato Basil Bisque
- 2 TBSP olive oil
- 1/2 large onion 1 cup chopped
- 4 large cloves garlic about 2 TBSP chopped
- 1 TBSP salt
- 2 tsp pepper
- 3 lbs roma tomatoes 8 cups chopped
- 1/2 cup fresh basil - chopped
- 1/4 cup fresh oregano - chopped
- 3 1/2 cups vegetable stock
- 3 TBSP balsamic vinegar
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 cup cream
- 3 TBSP cornstarch
- 2 ounces of parmesan about 1 1/2 cups freshly grated
Removing the tops of the tomatoes, cut them in halves or quarters, remove the seeds, then rough chop the tomatoes.
Roughly chop onion, garlic, basil, and oregano.
Heat the pan on the stove over a medium flame. Once it's hot, add the olive oil and heat an additional minute.
Stir in the onions. Cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. When the onions are fragrant and starting to turn a translucent golden color add the garlic and cook 1 minute longer.
Add the salt, pepper, tomatoes, basil, oregano, vegetable stock, and vinegar. Stir to combine.
Bring to a boil over high heat.
Add the bay leaves on top, cover, drop heat to low and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
After 30 minutes, remove the bay leaves and puree the soup until smooth, preferably using a stick blender.
Mix the cornstarch with the cold cream, stirring to dissolve completely.
Add the cream and cornstarch, along with the grated parmesan into the soup. Stir to combine. Cover and allow to cook on low an additional 15 minutes.
Serve garnished with additional parmesan or a kale grilled cheese sandwich. Enjoy!