Tomato Bisque from "From Freezer to Table" Cookbook. Order at FromFreezerToTable.com today.

Tomato Bisque

By Rachel Tiemeyer
November 22, 2021

This comforting, hearty Tomato Bisque soup recipe is full of nutrition and rich flavor. It will win over kids and adults alike, especially with a grilled cheese on the side for dipping.

Tomato Bisque: A Panera Bread fake-out recipe. Freezer Friendly, healthy dinner idea!

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Anyone a big fan of Panera’s Creamy Tomato Soup? I may have created a recipe as good or better. That’s a bold claim, I know. It began with this recipe from Food & Wine. But, then I added a few healthy spins to it–ones that did not sacrifice taste in any way I assure you!

The result was a huge home run with my entire family and a few of our friends on New Year’s Eve. I’m talking picky little kids and foodie adults, people. There are few recipes in my repertoire that I can honestly say that about.

My kids affectionately called it “ketchup soup,” in honor of their favorite condiment. My husband and I just call it a soup worthy of a special occasion or any night. This would be a great Packed Lunch Idea for Kids.

Instant Pot tomato soup in a white bowl

Ingredients in This Recipe

You’ll find that this tomato bisque soup recipe packs in so many fresh, interesting flavors but all the ingredients are easy to find. Here’s what you’ll need:

Produce:

  • 2 onions
  • 2 carrots
  • 2 celery ribs
  • 4-6 garlic cloves

Dairy:

  • Half and half
  • Butter

Dry/Canned Goods:

  • 2 quarts (8 cups) low-sodium chicken stock or broth (or make your own)
  • 2 (28-ounce) cans diced fire-roasted tomatoes
  • 1 small can or tube of tomato paste

From Your Pantry:

  • Whole wheat flour (sub: all purpose flour) – just 2 tablespoons
  • Olive oil
  • Sugar (I used unrefined raw sugar)
  • Red pepper flakes
  • Salt and pepper

Optional Toppings for Serving:

  • Hot sauce
  • Croutons
  • Freshly grated Parmesan cheese

How to Make Tomato Bisque

While this tomato soup isn’t difficult to make, it does require a few steps. The good news is you will only use one pot!

Step 1: Saute the Aromatics

Heat the oil in a large stock pot and saute the onion, carrots, and celery (known as the “aromatics”–because they make your kitchen smell AMAZING and build flavor as they cook). You’ll season during this step with garlic, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes. To thicken the soup some, add in some flour and cook for a minute or two.

Step 2: Add More Soup Ingredients and Cook the Soup

Stir in the chicken stock, tomatoes, tomato paste, sugar, 3/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper, stirring and scrapping the bottom of the pan for any browned bits (these add flavor). Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer and cover partially. Cook for about 15-20 minutes, or until all the vegetables are very tender, stirring and scraping the bottom occasionally.

Step 3: Puree the Soup

Use an immersion blender to puree the soup in the pot until fairly smooth. (Or, you can transfer the soup in batches to a large blender. Please be careful during this step! Don’t fill the blender full. Cover the lid with a towel and hold securely while blending so the lid doesn’t pop off. Carefully, return the puree to the saucepan.)

Step 4: Finish Off the Soup

Now’s the time to make this a creamy, perfectly seasoned bisque. Stir in the butter and half and half. Taste and then season the soup with salt, pepper, and hot sauce to your preference. Ladle the soup into bowls and garnish with croutons and fresh shredded Parmesan cheese, if desired.

Can You Freeze Tomato Soup?

Yes, it’s easy and works well. I’ve tested and frozen this soup probably well over 100 times. I make it at least twice a month and freeze it in 1 1/2 cup portions for my kids’ lunches. They are so spoiled, I know! But, I feel good about sending them a bowl full of vegetables. 😉

How to Freeze Tomato Soup

Simply fully cook the soup and allow it to cool completely. I usually let it sit on the stove for about an hour (you can safely leave it out for 2 hours at room temp) and then dish it out into either individual 2-cup Pyrex bowls with lids or into these Anchor Hocking Freezer Containers (I love these!). Label them and freeze for up to 3 months.

How to Reheat From Frozen

Thaw in the refrigerator or using the defrost setting in the microwave. Warm over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally.

Frozen tomato soup in bag and in jars in the freezer

A Few Things to Know About This Tomato Bisque Soup Recipe

Here are a few things you may want to know before making this soup:

  • I wrote the recipe for a crowd or for your family to have enough to freeze for later. If you want just enough for one family meal, just simply cut it in half.
  • Seasoning all along the way is key to deep flavor. Season with salt and pepper when you saute the veggies, season again when you add the liquids, and finally season at the end after tasting. But, don’t get too heavy-handed at the get go!
  • We also loved the kicked-up addition of the hot sauce at the end. I just left it out of the kids’ bowls.
Tomato Bisque from "From Freezer to Table" Cookbook. Order at FromFreezerToTable.com today.
A version of this recipe is also in our first cookbook, From Freezer to Table.
Photo credit: Mitch Mandel/Rodale Images.

What to Serve with Tomato Bisque Soup

Add a grilled cheese like our Gourmet Grilled Cheese or some crusty bread from a bakery alongside this soup, and you’ve got the perfect winter comfort food. Plus, you’ll have just fed your family a bowl full of vegetables!

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Tomato Bisque from "From Freezer to Table" Cookbook. Order at FromFreezerToTable.com today.

Tomato Bisque

  • Author: Thriving Home
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 23 minutes
  • Total Time: 28 minutes
  • Yield: 810 servings 1x
  • Category: Soup
  • Method: Stove Top
  • Cuisine: American

Description

This comforting, hearty bisque is full of nutrition and rich flavor! It will win over kids and adults alike!


Ingredients

  • 4 tablespoons olive oil or avocado oil
  • 2 medium onions, chopped
  • 2 medium carrots, chopped
  • 2 celery ribs, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1/81/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 6 tablespoons whole wheat flour (sub: all purpose flour)
  • 8 cups (2 quarts) low-sodium chicken stock or broth (or vegetarian broth)
  • 2 (28-ounce) cans fire-roasted diced tomatoes, juices and all
  • 6 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 4 teaspoons sugar
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1/23/4 cup half and half
  • Hot sauce, to taste (optional)
  • 1 cup croutons, for garnish (optional)
  • Freshly grated Parmesan cheese (optional)

Instructions

Make It Now:

  1. In a large stockpot, heat the oil over medium high heat until shimmery.
  2. Add the chopped onion, carrot, celery, and garlic. Then, add the red pepper flakes and season lightly with salt and pepper. Stir occasionally until the vegetables are just beginning to brown, about 5 minutes.
  3. Sprinkle the flour over the vegetables and stir for 1-2 minutes, or until flour is fully incorporated.
  4. Stir in the chicken stock, tomatoes, tomato paste, sugar, 3/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper, stirring and scrapping the bottom of the pan for any browned bits (these add flavor).
  5. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer and cover partially. Cook for about 15-20 minutes, or until all the vegetables are very tender, stirring and scraping the bottom occasionally.
  6. Use an immersion blender to puree the soup in the pot until fairly smooth. (Or, you can transfer the soup in batches to a large blender. Please be careful during this step! Don’t fill the blender full. Cover the lid with a towel and hold securely while blending so the lid doesn’t pop off. Carefully, return the puree to the saucepan.)
  7. Stir in the butter and half and half. Taste and then season the soup with salt, pepper, and hot sauce to your preference.
  8. Ladle the soup into bowls and garnish with croutons and fresh shredded Parmesan cheese, if desired.

Freeze For Later: Full cook and fully cool. Freeze in a freezer container or bag (or in individual servings in mason jars, leaving at least 1 inch of head space) and seal well.

Prepare From Frozen: Thaw in the refrigerator or using the defrost setting in the microwave. Warm over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally.

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48 replies
  1. Margarita says:

    My husband doesn’t like tomato soup (he describes it as “hot ketchup”) and he absolutely loved this recipe. He was hesitant to even try it, and he ended up eating 2 bowls. I just added a little basil (freeze dried is all I had on hand) but otherwise followed the recipe to the T.

    Reply
    • Rachel Tiemeyer says:

      Hot ketchup. That’s hilarious and an apt description of a lot of the canned junk. 😉 I’m so happy to hear he liked this one! Great idea to add basil. I do that in the summer.

      Reply
  2. Iris says:

    Filling and delicious! Couldn’t get fire roasted tomatoes, used regular diced canned tomatoes, turned out fine. Will I make it again? You bet!❤

    Reply
  3. Stacey Nienaber says:

    Could you use canned coconut milk instead of half and half? We try to go dairy free as much as we can. Thanks!

    Reply
  4. Jodie says:

    One of my family’s favorite soups. Delicious, easy, and makes a ton! Having family-sizes portions in the freezer is such a help.

    Reply
  5. Mandy says:

    I don’t see where you add bay leaves only remove them. Does the recipe call for bay leaves? There are a lot of ingredients, maybe I keep skipping over it.

    Reply
    • Rachel says:

      Thanks for catching that. I removed the bay leaves from the ingredients a while back (because they don’t make a taste difference) but missed it in the ingredients. I just updated the recipe. Thanks again!

      Reply
  6. Anonymous says:

    Just out of curiosity, could I use regular crushed tomatoes? I couldn’t find fire-roasted tomatoes. This sounds like an amazing recipe and I can not wait to try it!!!

    Reply
  7. Natalie says:

    There aren’t words for how much I love this soup! I made a double batch to divide up and deliver some to a family that just adopted a baby and of course, for us to eat tonight. For the double batch I used 1 c. 1/2 and 1/2 and 4 T of butter to cut down on the saturated fat and it’s plenty rich. Yum!

    Reply
    • Rachel says:

      Natalie, oh I love that you love this soup too. I always make a ginormous (sp?) batch and freeze half. Glad you could bless others with it too. And I agree…it’s easy to cut down on the fat since there’s so much flavor going on in this soup.

      Reply
  8. Julie says:

    This soup was very good! I used three pounds of fresh tomatoes (cut them in half and put them in the blender w/ a little water) instead of canned. My guest said it was “like Panera’s, but better” Thanks for the recipe! I will be making it again.

    Reply
    • Rachel says:

      Oh happy day! I’m so glad to hear you say that. Sometimes I wonder if it’s just me (and my parents who always say stuff like that because they’re my parents, right?) who think it’s that good. Glad you enjoyed it!

      Reply
  9. tina says:

    Girl please and thank you! I am huge fan of this soup at Panera b/c I believe it is g-free & I have been looking for a good tomato soup recipe…thank you thank you!

    Reply
    • Rachel says:

      Awesome, Tina. Yes, I think you can easily make this GF. It does have flour in it, but surely you can sub with some GF-friendly flour (or maybe just leave it out?). I hope you enjoy it as much as we do!

      Reply
      • Devin says:

        It better! We’ll just see how long it takes to recruit. It only took me about 5 months to find enough people in San Antonio, but it took me almost 2 years here. Hopefully, there will be lots of ladies ready to save money and time :)! And we’ll have better access to better food. I’m on a FC Mission…spreading it all around!

        Reply
    • Carolina says:

      Hi! I’m wondering how and when to freeze this soup, right after pureeing and adding the half and half or after it’s fully made? Thank you!

      Reply
      • Rachel says:

        Thanks for reminding me that I need to add freezer meal instructions (coming soon!). Freeze after it’s completely done and cooled. I’ve done it this way many times and it works perfectly!

        Reply
        • Anonymous says:

          Just a friendly reminder that the freezer tips are not up yet. Soups are pretty simple though, just place cooled soup in freezer bags and lay them in your freezer. Good for a solid three months

          Reply
          • Rachel says:

            Thanks for the reminder! I just added them, and I’d contend that it will stay good for much longer than 3 months if sealed really well at the back of the freezer. At least, that’s been the case for me many times. 😉