Tomato Bisque – rich, creamy and smooth tomato bisque made with fresh or canned tomatoes and a touch of cream. A very comforting dish as a starter or a full meal with or without any accompaniment!
As the summer season starts to wind down, I’m dusting off my box of soup recipe cards and other warm and hearty dishes. This Tomato Bisque has long been on my list (probably after I made this Lobster Bisque about a year ago), so this is the perfect time to finally get it up on the blog to welcome the new season.
What is Tomato Bisque?
You may think of bisque as something made with a seafood stock like from lobster, shrimp, crab and crayfish. Though that is entirely correct, as it’s French origin would suggest, bisque in modern terminology also refers to any blended soup that is smooth, creamy and velvety in texture. Most recipes would include cream to achieve that signature texture to accompany any of the following: squash, mushrooms and, of course, tomatoes!
Tomato Bisque vs Tomato Soup
I’m probably one of those few who believes that there’s a thin difference between a tomato bisque and tomato soup. Personally, tomato soup has more of a liquid-y consistency while bisque has that distinct velvety, sort of heavy thick kind of texture (compared to soups). Another reasoning would be that tomato soups are generally served hot while tomato bisque can be served both hot or cold.
What Type of Tomato is Best for Tomato Bisque?
I’ve tried using fresh, canned and roasted tomatoes for this recipe and all of them are great. But I’ve got to say that the roasted tomatoes have a slighter edge with its bolder flavor. That’s just about it, though. On the other hand, if you prefer to use canned tomatoes especially on busy weeknights, make sure to use those good brands of whole and peeled tomatoes for better quality.
Tomato Bisque Ingredients
The ingredients for this bisque are pretty simple. In fact, I’ve served this dish numerous times on busy weeknights and it’s always a hit. Here’s just a few of the ingredients for today’s smooth and comforting tomato bisque:
Butter and Olive Oil. A combination of these two is always a good start for any creamy-based soup as it has both the butter and olive flavor while lowering the saturated fat content from using all butter compared to part butter and part olive oil. But yes, you can sub olive oil for butter and vice versa.
All-Purpose Flour. This helps in making our dish thick enough. If you don’t like all-purpose flour, you can still make a roux with any starch like cornstarch (cornflour in the UK), cassava flour or arrowroot. Just avoid using something strong like cornmeal.
Canned Crushed Tomatoes. You can easily grab a can of crushed or whole tomatoes and make this awesome dish especially during busy weeknights. Fresh or roasted tomatoes also works great for this recipe with amazing results.
Chicken Broth. For optimal flavor, don’t skip the chicken broth. Vegetable broth works fine, too, especially if you’re vegan or simply replace it with plain water.
Italian Seasoning. For additional flavor, use this homemade Italian Seasoning HERE OR simply mix 1/4 teaspoon each of dried thyme, rosemary, basil and oregano and you’re good to go.
Heavy Cream. This bisque wouldn’t be complete without heavy cream. To make it vegan, simply replace with coconut cream or cashew cream.
How Do You Thicken a Bisque?
Using cream is the first option when it comes to thickening any bisque, however, there are also simple other ways that you can try.
- Simply remove some of the soup solids and transfer it to a blender and pulse for a few seconds. Then pour it back right into pot and stir.
- Boil a cup of cashews in a saucepan with water enough to cover the cashews for about 7 minutes. Strain the water and throw the cashews into the blender with a cup of vegetable broth and blend until nice and creamy and pour it in back into the pot after it has simmered.
- Thrown in a can (15-ounce can) of drained cannellini beans before simmering. After simmering, turn of the heat and puree the bisque until completely smooth using an immersion blender.
Can I Make Bisque in Advance?
Yes, you sure can. This tomato bisque can be made in advance, stored in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 4 days.
Can You Freeze Tomato Bisque?
Absolutely! Let the bisque completely cool down first before transferring it an airtight freezer-safe container and then freeze it up to 6 months (SEE NOTES FOR MORE). Reheat over medium heat until it starts to simmer. Remember, do NOT boil the mixture.
What To Serve with Tomato Bisque?
Honestly, you can enjoy it as it is as a meal starter or a full meal paired with grilled cheese or this homemade garlic bread HERE. Dunk ’em all the way! You can also throw in some of these buttery crunchy croutons on top to complement the creaminess of the bisque. Although tomato bisque is hearty enough to be a meal on its own, it certainly pairs well with almost any main dish like this meatloaf HERE and this beer can chicken PLUS a green salad or seasonal fruit for a complete dinner.
Here are some of my favorites to go along with Tomato Bisque:
More Comforting Soup Recipes
BROWSE my other soup recipes HERE!
How To Make Tomato Bisque
In a large heavy saucepan, melt 2 tablespoons of butter and pour olive oil. Add minced garlic, fresh thyme, onions and celery. Cook over moderately high heat stirring occasionally for about 5 minutes until vegetables are soft and beginning to get brown. Sprinkle flour over the vegetables and stir frequently over low heat for about a minute, until the mixture is smooth and the flour is fully incorporated. This helps to thicken the soup later.
Add tomatoes, chicken broth and brown sugar. Season the soup with Italian seasoning, salt and black pepper to taste. Cover partially and cook the soup over moderate heat, stirring occasionally for about 15 minutes, until vegetables are tender. Make sure to scoop the bottom of the pan every 5 minutes to avoid burning.
Allow the soup to cool off slightly then transfer the soup to a blender in batches and blend on high until smooth and silky. Return the puree to the saucepan.
Add the heavy cream and cook until the soup is just heated through. Ladle the soup into bowls, garnish with basil or parsley and serve with croutons. Bisque is best served warm or hot.
- 2 tablespoons (28 g) unsalted butter
- 1 tablespoon (14 ml) extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 cloves garlic , minced
- 2 teaspoons (1.6 g) fresh thyme
- 1 medium yellow onion , diced
- 2 stalks celery , diced
- 2 tablespoons (20 g) all-purpose flour
- 1 28 ounces can crushed tomatoes
- 2 cups (500 ml) chicken broth or water
- ½ tablespoon (4 g) brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons (3.6 g) Italian seasoning , (homemade here)
- salt to taste
- freshly ground black pepper to taste
- ⅓ cup (80 g) heavy cream
- minced chives, basil, or parsley as garnish
- roasted bread or croutons for serving
- In a large heavy saucepan, melt 2 tablespoons of butter and pour olive oil. Add minced garlic, fresh thyme, onions and celery. Cook over moderately high heat stirring occasionally for about 5 minutes until vegetables are soft and beginning to get a brown color.
- Sprinkle flour over the vegetables and stir frequently over low heat for about a minute, until the mixture is smooth and the flour is fully incorporated. This helps to thicken the soup later.
- Add tomatoes, chicken broth and brown sugar. Season the soup with Italian seasoning, salt and black pepper to taste. Cover partially and cook the soup over moderate heat, stirring occasionally for about 15 minutes, until vegetables are tender. Make sure to scoop the bottom of the pan every 5 minutes to avoid burning.
- Allow the soup to cool off slightly then transfer the soup to a blender in batches and blend on high until smooth and silky. Return the puree to the saucepan, add the heavy cream and cook until the soup is just heated through.
- Ladle the soup into bowls, garnish with basil or parsley and serve with croutons. Bisque is best served warm or hot.
Tips & Notes:
- You can use canned whole tomatoes or fresh tomatoes for this recipe, both gives amazing results.
- Simmer vegetables till they are very soft as this will ease blending and give a smooth and creamy soup. You can also use an immersion blender to blend the soup.
- If your tomato bisque happens to be very thick you can either add; more milk or water.
- To make this recipe vegan you can substitute heavy cream with coconut cream or cashew cream. Also substitute chicken broth for vegetable broth.
- Bisque can be stored in an airtight container and place in the refrigerator for about 3 to 4 days or kept in a tightly sealed, freezer-safe container, and stored in the freezer for about six months.If you are making tomato bisque purposely for freezing, leave out the cream completely and add when you are reheating it.
- Please keep in mind that nutritional information is a rough estimate and can vary greatly based on products used.