Luscious and creamy, this tomato bisque recipe looks super fancy but is quite easy to make. Packed with tomatoes, heavy cream, cheese, and herbs, it’s a perfect soup recipe for special occasions.
The Best Tomato Bisque Recipe
Despite the elaborate name, this creamy tomato bisque is a leveled-up tomato soup that is pure homemade comfort food. It’s packed with canned tomatoes for the best flavor but also to keep you from standing over the stove for hours. With whole milk and heavy cream, it’s a luscious bowl of red tomatoey goodness. This is one of my favorite soup recipes for special occasions, like the holidays or a date night!
If I had to summarize the preparation of this recipe in 2 words, they would be “blend” and “simmer.” That’s how simple this bisque is! Don’t let it fool you, though. It’s got a great flavor base with garlic, shallots, dried herbs, and all kinds of tomatoes and herbs.
A bit of melted parmesan cheese brings everything together and makes each bowl worthy of a fancy restaurant. Best of all, you didn’t have to leave your kitchen. Topped with croutons or roasted pine nuts, it’s a heavenly creamy bisque perfect for special occasions.
What’s The Difference Between Tomato Bisque and Tomato Soup?
Bisques are a traditional French preparation made with a shellfish fond (broth). They’re creamy soups, so the term “bisque” has changed over time to allow heavy cream and milk to replace the seafood fond interchangeably.
Tomato soup’s primary liquid is vegetable or chicken broth, whereas tomato bisque is made with a dairy product like milk and/or heavy cream. Thus, bisque is like a thickened, creamy preparation of tomato soup. However, flavor-wise they’re very similar. For a simpler Tomato Soup, get my recipe for Roasted Tomato Soup.
It’s time to break out all sorts of tomato products! Check the recipe card for the full ingredient amounts for this creamy tomato bisque.
- Salted butter – You can also use unsalted but you’ll need to adjust the amount of salt in the recipe.
- Yellow onion – No white or red onion.
- Garlic – Swap it out for 3 1/2 teaspoons of garlic powder if needed,
- Shallots – If you can’t find any, substitute it for 2 more garlic cloves.
- Dried basil
- Dried oregano
- Tomato paste
- Sun-dried tomatoes – You can leave them out but they intensify the tomatoey goodness.
- Red pepper flakes – Leave them out if you don’t want the bisque to have a spicy kick.
- Canned fire-roasted crushed tomatoes – Feel free to use regular canned crushed tomatoes.
- Canned fire-roasted diced tomatoes – Regular canned diced tomatoes work too.
- Low-sodium chicken broth – If you use the regular kind, adjust the amount of salt in the recipe.
- Cornstarch – You can leave it out but it helps the bisque thicken.
- Heavy whipping cream – Half and half works too.
- Whole milk – Low-fat milk works too. Please no plant-based milk.
- Parmesan cheese – Only use the real stuff.
- Bay leaves
- Salt and pepper
- Granulated sugar – Only use white sugar for this.
What tomatoes are best for tomato bisque?
While there are different kinds of tomato-based products in this recipe, canned tomatoes are the best ones because they’re the main source of flavor. Consider the tomato paste and sun-dried tomatoes as flavor enhancers only.
While you can technically use fresh tomatoes and cook them down, it requires lots more cooking time, and the result is similar to what you’d get using high-quality canned tomatoes.
How to Make Creamy Tomato Bisque
There’s a whole lot of blending involved in this creamy tomato bisque, so it’s easier than it sounds.
- Cook the onion. Melt the butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion and stir well. Let it cook for 4-6 minutes or until softened. Add the garlic, shallot, basil, oregano, tomato paste, sun-dried tomatoes, and red pepper flakes. Mix well and let it cook for another 2-3 minutes. The tomato paste should have changed color from a bright red to a darker hue.
- Blend the onions. Add the onion mixture to the blender. Process until you get a smooth mixture. Pour it back into the pot.
- Blend the tomatoes. Add the crushed tomatoes and diced tomatoes to the blender. Process until you get a smooth mixture. Pour the blended tomatoes into the pot. Mix well to combine.
- Add the broth. Gently stir the broth into the pot and let it come to a simmer over medium heat.
- Make the slurry. Whisk the cornstarch and heavy whipping cream in a small bowl. Pour it into the pot and mix. Add the milk and stir until completely combined. Don’t skip this step, otherwise, your bisque won’t be quite as thick and creamy.
- Add the parmesan. Toss the parmesan into the pot and mix until completely dissolved. It should take around 6 to 8 minutes. Add the bay leaves. Reduce the heat to low and let the soup simmer for another 10 minutes.
- Season. Add salt, pepper, and sugar to taste. Stir well and remove the soup from the heat. Serve warm. I know the sugar sounds counterintuitive, but don’t skip it. It helps balance the soup’s acidity.
Tips & Topping Ideas
Follow these tips for the easiest, most luxurious bisque ever:
- Make it richer. Substitute the whole milk with heavy cream for a more decadent, thicker tomato bisque.
- Use roasted garlic. Swap the garlic for roasted garlic and take the bisque to the next level.
- Use Italian seasoning. Substitute the dried basil and oregano with 1 1/2 teaspoons of store-bought Italian seasoning.
This creamy tomato bisque can be jazzed up even more with simple toppings. Here’s some inspiration:
- Top with croutons. Once served, top the soup with your favorite croutons for a crunchy bite.
- Add roasted nuts. Add 1 tablespoon of roughly chopped walnuts or pine nuts per serving to a pan over low heat. Pan-roast them, shaking the pan continuously, for 6-7 minutes or until fragrant. Use them as a garnish for your soup.
- Swirl in cream. Swirl in 1 tablespoon of heavy cream in every bowl for a little more creaminess and an extra fancy look.
What to Serve With Tomato Soup
A creamy tomato bisque and grilled cheese sandwiches are a match made in heaven. Since this bisque is extra special, though, I recommend putting a little more love into your sandwiches too. My Lasagna Grilled Cheese Sandwiches and Caprese Grilled Cheese Sandwich are perfect for this.
Dipping in homemade breadsticks or Whole Wheat Focaccia Bread is a fantastic way to enjoy this soup.
If you’re looking for more protein-packed dishes, try my Steak and Mushrooms Foil Packs, Oven Grilled Steak, and Bruschetta Stuffed Chicken Breasts.
How to Store & Reheat Leftovers
- Refrigerate any cooled leftovers of this creamy tomato bisque in an airtight container for up to 5 days.
- Reheat it in the microwave for 1 minute, stir it, and then heat it for another 1 to 2 minutes or until warm. You can also heat it in a pot over medium-low heat for 5 to 7 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Can I Freeze Bisque?
- Yes, only you’ll need to leave out the heavy cream, cornstarch, and milk. These tend to separate from the soup during freezing, and it’s hard to reincorporate the soup even after thawing, so don’t add them in if you’re going to freeze it.
- Instead, pour the fully cooled dairy-free bisque into a freezer-friendly bag or container and freeze for up to 6 months.
- Thaw it in the fridge a day before serving.
- Reheat it in a pot and stir in the heavy cream-cornstarch slurry and milk. Let it simmer for 15 minutes over low heat, stirring occasionally, before serving.
More Easy Soup Recipes
Creamy Tomato Bisque
- 4 tablespoons salted butter
- 1 medium yellow onion, diced
- 7 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 medium shallot, finely chopped
- 1½ teaspoons dried basil
- ½ teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 2 sun-dried tomatoes in olive oil, finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 76 ounces canned fire-roasted crushed tomatoes
- 80 ounces canned fire-roasted diced tomatoes
- 3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1½ cups heavy whipping cream
- 1½ cups whole milk
- 1 cup shredded parmesan cheese
- 2 bay leaves
- salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste
- 2 to 4 tablespoons granulated sugar
- Melt the butter in a large pot or Dutch oven set over medium heat.
- Add the onion and stir well. Let it cook for 4 to 5 minutes or until softened.
- Add the garlic, shallot, basil, oregano, tomato paste, sun-dried tomatoes, and red pepper flakes. Mix well and let it cook for another 2 to 3 minutes.
- Add the onion mixture to the blender. Process until you get a smooth mixture. Pour it back into the pot.
- Add the crushed tomatoes and diced tomatoes to the blender. Process until you get a smooth mixture. Pour the blended tomatoes into the pot.
- Gently stir the broth into the pot and let it come to a simmer over medium heat.
- Whisk the cornstarch and heavy whipping cream in a small bowl. Pour it into the pot and mix. Add in the milk and stir until thoroughly combined.
- Toss the parmesan into the pot and stir until completely melted and smooth, about 6 minutes. Add the bay leaves. Reduce the heat to low and let the soup simmer for another 10 minutes.
- Add salt, pepper, and sugar to taste. Stir well and remove the soup from the heat.
- Ladle soup into bowls and serve warm.
- Bisque: It’s just an elegant French name for crayfish soup, actually, but in recent times, we have started to use the word ‘bisque’ so to define thick and creamy soups.
- Tomatoes: Because it’s winter and because it’s easier, I like to make this soup with canned tomatoes, including fire-roasted crushed tomatoes, fire-roasted diced tomatoes, and a few sun-dried tomatoes. If you’d like to use fresh tomatoes, I suggest roasting them and continuing with the soup recipe.
Nutritional info is an estimate and provided as courtesy. Values may vary according to the ingredients and tools used. Please use your preferred nutritional calculator for more detailed info.