Tangy, tasty and terrific, this Tomato Basil Bisque is smooth, creamy and full of rich tomato flavor. And, the flavors are perfectly blended and balanced by the addition of a special ingredient not found in most tomato soup recipes. Perfect for a cool fall evening!
A Healthier Tomato Bisque Soup Recipe
Our local Safeway grocery store sells a delicious tomato bisque soup. The problem is that it’s heavy on salt and processed ingredients. I started searching around for a healthier version, to no avail. Time to create my own!
What is the difference between tomato soup and tomato bisque?
Tomato soup isn’t necessarily smooth or creamy, while tomato bisque always will be. The former could technically have chunks of tomato in it; and it may or may not have cream.
Tomato Basil Bisque Soup Recipe Ingredients
After perusing the ingredients on the Safeway packaging, I discovered that what enhances the flavor in their bisque is the addition of butternut squash. So, I started with my favorite tomato bisque recipe as a base, substituted cubed butternut squash for some of the tomatoes, played around with a few of the other ingredients – and this delicious Tomato Basil Bisque was born. Mom liked it so much she insisted we include it in our cookbook A Well-Seasoned Kitchen®. And Denver’s local food and restaurant maven Gabby Gourmet says it’s her favorite tomato soup!
(FYI, I’ve also included a variation without the squash.)
What are the best tomatoes for tomato soup?
To maximize the tomato flavor in this recipe I like to use seasoned canned organic tomatoes, along with tomato paste. Why canned? Well, my favorite time of year to enjoy warm, comforting soups is wintertime, when fresh tomatoes available in Colorado tend to be bland. Canned provides greater depth of tomato flavor, which I enhance by adding tomato paste.
How to make Tomato Basil Bisque
Here are the easy steps to follow in preparing this delectable soup:
- Cook garlic and onion.
In a large saucepan, melt butter with olive oil over medium heat. Add garlic and chopped onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are soft.
- Add and cook tomatoes, paste, squash, broth, seasonings.
Add tomatoes, tomato paste, butternut squash, chicken broth, basil and thyme. Season to taste with sugar, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat. Cover and simmer for about 30 to 35 minutes, or until squash is fork-tender.
Let soup cool for 5 minutes, then purée in the pan with an immersion blender. Alternatively, let soup cool to luke-warm (10-15 minutes), then ladle into a standing blender, cover and purée. Place puréed soup back in saucepan.
- Add cream and hot sauce.
Stir in 1 cup of light cream and Tabasco; adjust seasonings as needed. Add more cream as needed to taste (Use all 2 cups for a creamier soup).
- Reheat and serve.
Reheat soup (don’t let it boil), then ladle into bowls and serve.
How to Serve Tomato Basil Bisque Soup
To serve this warm and satisfying soup, either ladle into a soup tureen that you place in the middle of the dining table or ladle into individual bowls in the kitchen, then serve. I like to garnish with a leaf or two of fresh basil.
Do you eat tomato bisque hot or cold?
How to store, freeze, and reheat Tomato Basil Bisque
If you have leftover soup, place it in a sealed container and refrigerate. It will last 3 to 4 days. Reheat in a saucepan over medium heat; make sure it doesn’t boil. I don’t recommend freezing leftover soup with cream in it. The texture can become grainy and the flavor can be decreased.
If you want to freeze this soup to serve later, don’t add the cream. Prepare it through puréeing, then place in an airtight container and refrigerate. Make sure to leave around 1 inch of space at the top of your container (between the soup and the lid). Once chilled, place in the freezer. It will last for around 1 month. Thaw in the refrigerator; stir in cream and hot sauce and reheat in a saucepan over medium heat. Make sure it doesn’t boil.
Tomato Basil Bisque Recipe FAQ
Here are my tips on how maximize the flavor in any tomato soup (and you’ll see that I’ve applied all of these in this Tomato Basil Bisque recipe):
1. Start with good tomatoes! As mentioned elsewhere in this post, I tend to make warm, homey soups in the winter so I use canned organic tomatoes.
2. Add tomato paste. If the tomato flavor isn’t strong enough for you, add tomato paste.
3. Replace some of the tomatoes with butternut squash. Tomatoes can sometimes be a bit too acidic and almost taste sour. One solution is to add sugar; I prefer the approach in this recipe which is to add butternut squash. It’s slightly sweet, has a smooth texture when puréed and it’s nutty earthy flavor is a perfect match with the tomatoes.
4. Add fresh herbs. Fresh basil and thyme are excellent complements to tomatoes, and amp up the taste even more.
Bisque is a french term that initially referred to a thick, creamy soup made with shellfish, in which both the meat and the shells were used in the cooking process. Today, bisque has come to refer to a soup that is velvety smooth and creamy.
First, purée it, then add cream!
Because of the addition of tomato paste and butternut squash, this soup will naturally be thick once puréed. If yours happens to be a bit thin, then you might need to cook it a bit longer. That will allow the cream to reduce a bit, which will thicken the soup.
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- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 1/2 teaspoons chopped garlic
- 1 cup chopped onion (1 medium)
- 2 cans (14.5-ounce) diced tomatoes with garlic and basil, undrained
- 1/4 cup tomato paste
- 2 1/4 cups butternut squash, peeled and diced (around 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 pounds)
- 2 cups chicken broth (or vegetable broth)
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
- 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
- 1/2 teaspoon sugar
- 2 cups light cream (half and half)
- 1/4 teaspoon Tabasco sauce (or more to taste)
- In a large saucepan, melt butter with olive oil over medium heat. Add garlic and chopped onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are soft.
- Add tomatoes, tomato paste, butternut squash, chicken broth, basil and thyme. Season to taste with sugar, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat. Cover and simmer for about 30 to 35 minutes, or until squash is fork-tender.
- Purée soup, either in the pan with an immersion blender or in a standing blender (put back in the saucepan if you use the latter).
- Stir in 1 cup of light cream and Tabasco; adjust seasonings as needed. Add more cream as needed to taste (Use all 2 cups for a creamier soup).
- Reheat soup, then ladle into bowls and serve.
Variation: Omit the squash, add 2 more cans of diced tomatoes, decrease the tomato paste to 2 tablespoons, decrease the chicken broth to 1 1/2 cups and increase the sugar to 1 teaspoon.
Vegetarian: use vegetable broth in place of chicken broth.
Make ahead: Soup can be made up to 2 days ahead, covered and refrigerated. Reheat over medium heat.
- Category: Soups, easy entertaining
- Method: stovetop
- Cuisine: American