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This easy Tomato Basil Soup recipe is a light, healthy, and delicious vegetarian dinner or weekend lunch that’s ready for the table in about 30 minutes. Sweet and creamy, it’s the perfect companion for a toasty grilled cheese sandwich or a loaf of crusty bread. Best of all, the flavorful tomato soup starts with canned tomatoes, so you can enjoy it year-round!

Overhead image of hands eating a bowl of homemade tomato basil soup.

Homemade Tomato Basil Soup

A roasted tomato soup with summer’s fresh plum tomatoes or roma tomatoes is such a treat; however, it’s not always realistic. After all, we love to enjoy a bowl of creamy tomato basil soup year-round — even when we don’t have loads of sweet red tomatoes hanging on the vine. Instead, this quick and easy recipe takes advantage of convenient canned tomatoes for a flavorful, delicious pot of soup in about 30 minutes. Serve it with a grilled cheese sandwich on the side and you can’t find an easier, faster, or more family-friendly weeknight meal!

Pouring vegetable broth into a pot

The Difference Between Tomato Soup and Tomato Bisque

Tomato soup is broad term that refers to any soup in which tomatoes are the primary ingredient. Tomato bisque is a type of tomato soup. While some tomato soups are made with a thin, tomato-based broth, tomato bisque is smooth, creamy, and highly seasoned. In either case, tomatoes are the star of the show! This easy tomato basil soup recipe is similar to a bisque, thanks to the pureed texture and the splash of cream that you add at the end.

Pureeing soup with an immersion blender

Ingredients

This is just a quick overview of the simple ingredients that you’ll need for a pot of tomato basil soup. As always, specific measurements and complete cooking instructions are included in the printable recipe box at the bottom of the post.

  • Olive oil: to sauté the vegetables.
  • Onion and garlic cloves: add savory flavor to the soup.
  • Bay leaves: help the soup taste like it’s been simmering all day long!
  • Canned tomatoes: a nice shortcut when you don’t have fresh tomatoes available. You don’t even need to drain the cans, since the juices go into the pot as well!
  • Vegetable broth: the liquid base of the soup. You can use chicken broth if you’re not worried about keeping it vegetarian.
  • Brown sugar: in order to achieve great tomato flavor, it’s important to balance acidity and sweetness. Too much acid or too much sugar yields a soup that tastes one-dimensional. The right amount of sugar perfectly balances the acidity of the tomatoes.
  • Kosher salt and black pepper: to enhance the other flavors in the soup.
  • Heavy cream or half-and-half: just a little bit added at the end gives the soup a more velvety, rich mouthfeel, while still keeping it light and fresh. If you like a really creamy tomato soup, add even more cream.
  • Basil: for bright Italian flavor. Fresh herbs are always best, but you can substitute with about 1 tablespoon of dried basil, if necessary.
Pouring cream into a pot of soup

How to Make Tomato Basil Soup

A homemade tomato basil soup with canned tomatoes tastes like it’s been simmering all day on the stovetop — but it’s ready in about 30 minutes!

  1. Sauté onion in a Dutch oven or other large, heavy-bottomed pot until tender (about 3-5 minutes); add the garlic and cook until fragrant.
  2. Add bay leaves, tomatoes, broth, and brown sugar.
  3. Bring to a boil, then simmer on low for 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and discard bay leaves.
  4. Purée soup with an immersion blender or with a regular blender (in batches).
  5. Stir in cream and basil, and then season with salt and pepper to taste.
  6. Ladle into bowls and serve!
Square side shot of bowls of easy tomato basil soup recipe on a wooden table.

How to Dress Up Tomato Basil Soup

Keep it simple with a garnish of extra fresh basil leaves. You can also finish the soup with homemade garlic croutons, a heavy grating of fresh Parmesan cheese, a swirl of cream, or small cubes of grilled cheese sandwiches (like grilled cheese croutons).

What to Serve with Creamy Tomato Basil Soup

There’s no more classic combination than grilled cheese and tomato basil soup! It’s a simple, hearty, and satisfying lunch or dinner that appeals to both kids and adults. I like to make a loaf crusty bread or purchase sourdough, which is ideal for thick, toasty, grilled cheese sandwiches.

Serve a bowl of the warm soup with any of these other easy sides, too:

Hands holding a white mug full of the best easy tomato basil soup recipe

Storage

Make the soup in advance, allow it to cool completely, and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

To Freeze

If you want to prepare the soup well in advance and store it in the freezer, do not add the cream. Allow the soup to cool completely, package in airtight containers or Ziploc freezer bags, and freeze for up to 3 months. Add the cream to the warm soup just before serving.

To Reheat

Thaw frozen soup in the refrigerator overnight. Place the soup in a saucepan or pot and reheat on low, just until warmed through. Add the cream at the end. Do not let the soup boil.

Side shot of two bowls of tomato basil soup on a dinner table.

Recipe Variations

  • Fresh basil is always best, but you can substitute with 1 tablespoon of dried basil if necessary.
  • If you’re not looking for a vegetarian soup, feel free to substitute chicken broth for the vegetable broth.
  • Canned full-fat coconut milk is a nice, creamy, dairy-free alternative to the heavy cream or half-and-half.
  • For a richer, creamier soup, add more heavy cream at the end.
Close overhead shot of a spoon in a bowl of tomato soup with parmesan cheese and fresh basil on top.

Tips for the Best Tomato Basil Soup Recipe

  • Use high quality canned tomatoes for the best results (cheaper varieties are full of water and won’t provide as much rich flavor).
  • Start with room temperature cream (rather than cold cream). Room temperature cream or half-and-half is less likely to separate or curdle when added to the hot soup.
  • Don’t use milk in lieu of the cream or half-and-half. Milk doesn’t have enough fat to yield the same rich, creamy flavor and texture.
  • Don’t omit the sugar. It’s important to use sugar in tomato recipes in order to balance the acidity of the tomatoes. The end result is a more complex, richer tomato flavor.
  • The total amount of seasoning necessary will depend on the saltiness of your broth. Taste the soup as you’re cooking it and season with salt and pepper as you go. This is a matter of personal preference, so you can make your soup as salty (or not) as you like.
Close up side shot of two bowls of creamy tomato basil soup on a table.

More Easy Soup Recipes to Try

Overhead image of hands eating a bowl of homemade tomato basil soup.

30-Minute Tomato Basil Soup

5 from 6 votes
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 20 minutes
0 minutes
Total: 30 minutes
Servings 8 cups
Calories 113 kcal
This easy Tomato Basil Soup recipe is a light, healthy, and delicious vegetarian dinner that comes together quickly on busy nights!

Ingredients
  

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • ½ cup chopped onion
  • 2 teaspoons minced or pressed fresh garlic (about 2 large cloves)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3 (14.5 oz) cans diced tomatoes, not drained
  • 2 cups vegetable broth (or sub with chicken broth)
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper, to taste
  • ½ cup cream or half-and-half, at room temperature
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh basil (or use about 1 tablespoon of dried basil in a pinch)

Instructions

  • In a large pot, heat olive oil over medium-low heat. Add onion and sauté until tender, about 3-5 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 more seconds.
  • Stir in bay leaves. Add tomatoes, broth, and brown sugar.
  • Bring the soup to a boil, and then reduce the heat to low. Simmer (uncovered) over low heat for about 15 minutes.
  • Remove the bay leaves from pot.
  • Use an immersion blender (or a regular blender in batches) to puree the soup until it reaches the desired consistency. You can leave some chunks of tomatoes, or make it completely smooth.
  • Stir in the cream and basil until well combined. Serve warm.

Notes

  • Use high quality canned tomatoes for the best results (cheaper varieties are full of water and won’t provide as much rich flavor).
  • Start with room temperature cream (rather than cold cream). Room temperature cream or half-and-half is less likely to separate or curdle when added to the hot soup.
  • Don’t use milk in lieu of the cream or half-and-half. Milk doesn’t have enough fat to yield the same rich, creamy flavor and texture.
  • Don’t omit the sugar. It’s important to use sugar in tomato recipes in order to balance the acidity of the tomatoes. The end result is a more complex, richer tomato flavor.
  • The total amount of seasoning necessary will depend on the saltiness of your broth. Taste the soup as you’re cooking it and season with salt and pepper as you go. This is a matter of personal preference, so you can make your soup as salty (or not) as you like.
  • Fresh basil is always best, but you can substitute with 1 tablespoon of dried basil if necessary.
  • If you’re not looking for a vegetarian soup, feel free to substitute chicken broth for the vegetable broth.
  • Canned full-fat coconut milk is a nice, creamy, dairy-free alternative to the heavy cream or half-and-half.
  • For a richer, creamier soup, add more heavy cream at the end.

Nutrition

Serving: 1cupCalories: 113kcalCarbohydrates: 11gProtein: 2gFat: 7gSaturated Fat: 4gCholesterol: 20mgSodium: 463mgPotassium: 316mgFiber: 2gSugar: 8gVitamin A: 564IUVitamin C: 15mgCalcium: 65mgIron: 2mg
Keyword: easy tomato basil soup recipe, homemade tomato basil soup, tomato basil soup
Course: Dinner, Lunch
Cuisine: American
Author: Blair Lonergan

This recipe was originally published in December, 2017. The photos were updated in February, 2022.

blair

Hey, I’m Blair!

Welcome to my farmhouse kitchen in the foothills of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains. Inspired by local traditions and seasonal fare, you’ll find plenty of easy, comforting recipes that bring your family together around the table. It’s down-home, country-style cooking!

Read More

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Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Blair:

    I’ve just put it in the crock pot. I’ll heat it tomorrow and add the cream for Christmas dinner. Smells great!

    Ed

  2. Thanks for basil soup and healthy easy pumpkin soup recipes..will use them both during NEXT cold snap here in Houston!

  3. I love your recipes. I am living with someone who has an allergy to onions and garlic. Do you have any suggestions for substitutions? Thanks!

  4. 5 stars
    Thanks for the awesome tomato soup recipe! One change, I thought I had cream at home, but alas I did not. However, I did have sour cream, and used that as a substitute. Amazing!

    1. How much sour cream did you use? I also just realized I have no half and half or cream, but do have sour cream!

      1. Hi, Mary! I would just add it gradually, to taste. A little dollop if you don’t want it too creamy, or more to make it creamier. Start with a little bit, give it a good stir/taste, and then add more if necessary. Hope you enjoy!

        1. 5 stars
          So I made it with a couple spoonfuls of sour cream and it was SO good!!! Thank you! This will be in my regular recipe rotation for life!

          1. Awesome! I’m so glad that it was a hit, Mary. Thanks for coming back here to let us know. 🙂

  5. 5 stars
    Excellent and quick. I followed the recipe (although the bay leaf got chewed up in the blender – eek!) Daughter had oral surgery and could only eat cold foods and was tired of ice cream. Wanted ‘Panera’ tomato basil soup, but I offered to make instead. Success!

    1. Absolutely! I recommend canned coconut milk rather than refrigerated coconut milk beverage, since the canned version is much thicker and creamier. Enjoy, Candi!

    1. Hi, Susan! I think you could add the pasta sauce directly to the soup as is. If it’s too thick or not creamy enough, add extra broth or cream to taste. It should be great! 🙂

    1. Hi, Erika! I think that would work fine. Just make sure that the yogurt is at room temperature before stirring it into the soup. It’s less likely to separate or curdle when it hits the warm broth. Enjoy!

  6. What High quality canned tomato’s would you suggest? I know just a higher price, doesn’t always mean better quality lol.. ty