Creamy tomato basil bisque is a smooth, rich soup loaded with fresh tomatoes and just the right amount of basil and parmesan. It’s a taste of summer that is perfect for a rainy afternoon. In this post I cover different kinds of tomatoes to use, whether you should take the time to seed or peel them, and how I save the leftovers so that I can enjoy the taste of fresh summer tomatoes all year long. Read on for my tips and tricks, or scroll down to the recipe and start cooking!
When it comes to making homemade soup, creamy tomato basil bisque is by far one of my favorites. The sweet acidity of the tomatoes, the tang of the vinegar, and nutty parmesan cheese combine as a match made for my taste buds dreams. It’s a perfect way to use end of summer tomatoes and can be canned or frozen for longer storage. Serve it cold on a hot summer day or serve it hot on a cold, wet day.
Through the years I’ve tried a dozen or so different ways to make tomato soup. I’ve roasted the tomatoes, I’ve blanched and peeled the tomatoes, and I’ve tossed them in whole, skins and seeds in all. In the quest for rich tomato goodness I’ve used the slow cooker, the stove top, and even the oven. I’ve figured out what works, what’s worth the effort, and what at the end of the day doesn’t matter so much.
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.
So Many Opinions…
In the world of tomato soups, there seems to be many opinions about how to do it right. So I tried quite a few of them. The thing I found to be true is that while many of them are right, none of them are wrong. It all comes down to personal preference.
Since this recipe is for creamy tomato basil bisque, I’m going to focus on what gives the creamiest results and you can decide if it’s worth the extra effort.
In my research I’ve learned that how you cook it (slow cooker, stovetop, oven) matters less than how long you cook it. As the tomatoes cook down, they take on a richer, almost meaty flavor and develop a deeper color.
You don’t necessarily need to cook it forever to achieve delicious results, so choose a method that works with your schedule and lifestyle. I’ve had great results making it in a low oven on a freezing cold day and with a slow cooker. However, my go to method is the stovetop. Allow time for it to simmer at least an hour to let the flavors develop, but if you can make it early and let it simmer longer the flavors will be that much richer.
To get the absolute creamiest soup use fresh, peeled and seeded, Roma tomatoes.
Don’t have a surplus of Roma tomatoes? Use whatever you have on hand. The reason I like the Roma tomatoes best is because they have a meaty texture and they seem to have fewer seeds. Since you get the creamiest soup when you remove the seeds (more on that in a minute), a tomato with fewer seeds makes sense.
This summer I was gifted a surplus of cherry tomatoes – thank you Monica! I used them in this soup without peeling or seeding, because small tomatoes are a pain to peel and seed and you lose a lot of volume by discarding the seeds from cherry tomatoes. The results, while not perfectly creamy, were so much better than anything you can get out of a can.
Peeling the Tomatoes
Removing the tomato skins is a matter of personal preference. A bisque should be completely smooth and creamy. There is no better way to achieve the creamiest soup than by removing the skins.
Peeling a tomato doesn’t have to be difficult, but it is much easier if you blanch your tomatoes. Blanching simply means that you heat them up, then rapidly cool them off.
Start by scoring the tomatoes. Using a paring knife, pierce the skin at the bottom of the tomato to create an X. This will give the skins a breaking point, allowing the skins to fall off after the tomatoes are blanched.
Bring a small pot of water to a boil and set up an bowl of ice water next to it. Working with 3- 4 tomatoes at a time, place the tomatoes into the boiling water for less than a minute, about 45 – 60 seconds. Then immediately place them in the ice water for a minute or two to cool.
Remove the tomatoes from the ice bath and gently peel back the skins. They should come away quickly and easily, leaving you with whole peeled tomatoes.
If you don’t want to take the effort to remove the skins, you can still make a creamy soup, it just won’t be the creamiest or smoothest. If you opt to leave the skins on make sure you chop the tomatoes after you seed them to make easier work for your blender. Even with the skins left on, you’ll get soup that is tastier than anything store bought.
Removing the Seeds
This is a question that seems to be asked a lot. While the answer is usually to remove the seeds, the reason given by most people isn’t quite right. Many resources say to remove the seeds because they are bitter but I cannot at all agree with this statement. I find the seeds to be tannic and loaded with flavor, flavor that you shouldn’t discard unless necessary. (I leave the seeds in for my Homemade Spaghetti Sauce.)
That said, I do agree with removing the seeds for this soup because our goal is CREAMY tomato basil bisque. When left in, as I witnessed with the cherry tomato version this summer, the seeds add a bit of crunch in an otherwise smooth soup. My stick blender isn’t strong enough to break them up and they have a tendency to stick in your teeth.
If you are using a high powered, top of the line blender, please try this soup with the seeds and report back! I don’t have a high powered blender and much prefer the ease of use of a stick blender when making soups. Again, it all comes down to personal preference and when looking for the ultimate in creamy soup, you need to take the time to remove the seeds.
After your peel the tomatoes, slice them in half and scoop out the seeds with a spoon. It’s quite simple to do and it’s worth the extra step.
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Creamy Tomato Basil Bisque Recipe
This rich creamy tomato basil bisque is loaded with delicious tomato flavor with a tangy flavor and smooth texture. It’s a great way to use up a surplus of roma tomatoes and can be canned or frozen to come back to all fall and winter long. It makes a great first course for a dinner party but it also makes a delicious lunch.
Leftover soup can be refrigerated in an airtight container for 3 – 5 days. For longer storage you can freezer it, or use proper canning techniques for shelf stable storage.
If you like this recipe please give it a five star rating!
- 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
- 4 1/2 cups vegetable stock
- 1 TBSP balsamic vinegar
- 2 bay leaves
- 1/2 cup fresh basil - chopped
- 1 cup cream
- 3 TBSP cornstarch
- 1 ounce of parmesan, about 3/4 cups freshly grated
- Score, blanch, and peel the tomatoes. Cut in half, scoop out and discard the seeds. Chop the peeled and seeded tomatoes.
- Roughly chop onion and garlic.
- 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, vegetable stock, vinegar, and bay leaves. Stir to combine.
- Bring to a boil over high heat.
- 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.
- Make a cornstarch slurry by mixing the cornstarch with the cold whipping cream, stirring to dissolve completely. Julienne the basil and chop the oregano.
- Add the cornstarch slurry, grated parmesan, and basil into the soup. Stir to combine. Cover and allow to cook on low an additional 15 minutes.
- Serve garnished with additional parmesan or a drizzle of cream and a sprig of fresh basil.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 6 Serving Size: 1.5 cups
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 308