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This comforting, hearty Tomato Bisque soup recipe is full of nutrition and rich flavor. I’ve made (and frozen) this soup for my own family well over 100 times over the years! I can assure you it will win over kids and adults alike, especially with a grilled cheese on the side for dipping.
About This Recipe
Anyone a big fan of Panera’s Creamy Tomato Soup? My family and friends tell me this recipe is better. That’s a bold claim, I know. It began with this recipe from Food & Wine. But, then I added a few healthier spins to it–ones that did not sacrifice taste in any way I assure you!
The result has been a huge home run with my entire family, many of our friends, and our Thriving Home readers. I’m talking picky little kids and foodie adults enjoy this soup. There are few recipes in my repertoire that I can honestly say that about.
What is Tomato Bisque?
You may be wondering: what’s the difference between tomato soup and tomato bisque? Fair question. A bisque is historically a French soup that uses shellfish to create a broth and to thicken the soup. However, a modern twist on a bisque is a thicker, pureed vegetable soup with cream in it. Tomato Bisque falls into this modern category. Unlike tomato soup, it is thicker and includes cream or half and half.
You’ll find that this tomato soup recipe packs in so many fresh, interesting flavors but all the ingredients are easy to find.
Here’s what goes into it:
- 2 onions
- 2 carrots
- 2 celery ribs
- 4-6 garlic cloves
- Half and half (Dairy-free sub: I’ve tested with plain almond milk and it works.)
- Butter (Dairy-free sub: I’ve tested with ghee or omiting the butter and it works.)
- 2 quarts (8 cups) low-sodium chicken stock or broth (or make your own)
- 2 (28-ounce) cans diced fire-roasted tomatoes (SO good!)
- 1 small can or tube of tomato paste
From Your Pantry:
- Whole wheat flour (sub: all-purpose flour or gluten-free all-purpose flour)
- Olive oil
- Sugar (I used unrefined raw sugar or coconut sugar.)
- Red pepper flakes
- Salt and pepper
Optional Toppings for Serving:
- Hot sauce
- Freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- Fresh basil, julienned
A Few Things to Know Before Making This Recipe
Before you get going, I need to tell you a few important things about my favorite soup here:
- 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. I’ll have you 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.
How to Make Tomato Bisque
Now that you have the big picture, I’ll walk you through each step with some process shots. While this tomato soup recipe does require a few steps, the good news is that it’s not difficult and you’ll only use one pot!
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. (For gluten-free version, just use gluten-free all-purpose flour or completely omit this ingredient and add 1-2 cups less chicken broth.)
Add More Ingredients & Cook
Stir in the chicken stock, tomatoes, tomato paste, sugar, salt and 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.
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.)
Finish Off the Bisque
Now’s the time to make this a creamy, perfectly seasoned bisque. Stir in the butter and half and half. (If you want to make this dairy-free, use plain almond milk and either omit the butter or use lactose-free ghee or vegan “butter”.)
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 Bisque?
Yep, it’s easy and works well to freeze tomato bisque.
I’ve tested and frozen this soup probably well over 100 times. I make it at least twice a month and freeze it in small portions for my kids’ lunches. They are so spoiled, but I feel good about sending them a bowl full of vegetables. 😉
Here’s how to freeze it:
To Freeze: Fully cook the soup and allow it to cool completely (you can safely leave it out for 2 hours at room temp). Then dish it out into mason jars (leave 1 inch of a head space!), individual 2-cup Pyrex bowls with lids, or into reusable freezer bags. Seal and freeze.
To Prepare From Frozen: Thaw in the refrigerator or using the defrost setting in the microwave. Warm in a pot on the stovetop over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally (or in the microwave in 30 second increments).
What to Serve with Tomato Soup
- Add a grilled cheese on the side, like our Gourmet Grilled Cheese or serve with some crusty bread from a bakery.
- Top with Homemade Croutons, fresh julienned basil, and fresh Parmesan cheese.
- Want a salad, too? Try our simple and delicious Wilted Lettuce Salad.
More Healthy Soup Recipes
Here are some other popular and healthy soup recipes you’re sure to love!
Did you make this? Snap a photo and tag us on Instagram at @thrivinghome so we can see your creations and cheer you on!
This comforting, hearty tomato bisque is full of nutrition and rich flavor. It will win over kids and adults alike!
- 4 tablespoons olive oil or avocado oil
- 2 medium onions, diced
- 2 medium carrots, diced
- 2 celery ribs, sliced
- 1/8–1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 6 tablespoons whole wheat flour (sub: all purpose flour or gluten-free 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 (dairy-free sub: lactose-free ghee or vegan butter)
- 1/2 – 3/4 cup half and half (dairy-free sub: plain almond milk)
- Optional toppings: Hot sauce, homemade croutons, freshly grated Parmesan cheese, fresh julienned basil
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Make It Now:
- Saute Aromatics: In a large stockpot, heat the oil over medium high heat until shimmery. Add the onion, carrot, and celery. 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. Stir in the garlic for 30-60 seconds more.
- Cook Flour: Sprinkle the flour over the vegetables and stir for 1-2 minutes, or until flour is fully incorporated.
- Add More Ingredients: 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).
- Cook Soup: Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer and cover partially with the lid. Cook for about 15-20 minutes, or until all the vegetables are very tender, stirring and scraping the bottom occasionally.
- Blend Soup: Remove from the heat. 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 pot.)
- Finish Off: Stir in the butter and half and half. Taste and then season the soup with salt, pepper, and hot sauce to your preference.
- Serve: Ladle the soup into bowls and garnish with croutons, fresh shredded Parmesan cheese, and fresh basil, if desired.
Freeze For Later: Full cook and fully cool the soup. 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.
Gluten-free version: Use gluten-free all purpose flour in place of the wheat flour. Or you can omit the flour and use about 1-2 cups less broth. Also, use gluten-free croutons for the topping or omit that ingredient.
Dairy-free version: Use vegan butter or lactose-free ghee in place of the butter. Use plain almond or oat milk in place of the half and half. Omit Parmesan cheese as a topping.
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