Creamy Tomato Bisque

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This luscious and creamy tomato bisque recipe, a family favorite, looks super fancy but is quite easy to make. Packed with ripe tomatoes, heavy cream, melting cheese, and aromatic herbs, it’s and easy recipe for the perfect soup to elevate any special occasion or to make an ordinary day feel extraordinary.

overhead shot of a soup pot with tomato bisque, topped with three basil leaves, and tomatoes and croutons placed around the pot.


 

Despite the elaborate name, this creamy tomato bisque is a leveled-up tomato soup that is pure perfect 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 rich tomato flavor. If I had to summarize the preparation of this recipe in 2 words, they would be “blend” and “simmer.” That’s how simple this is! A bit of melted parmesan cheese brings everything together and makes each bowl worthy of a fancy restaurant.

What Is Tomato Bisque?

Tomato bisque is made with a dairy product like milk and/or heavy cream. Thus, bisque is like a thickened version of creamy tomato soup. However, bisques are a traditional French preparation made with shellfish broth, like this Lobster Bisque. They’re creamy soups, but the term “bisque” has changed over time to allow heavy cream and milk to replace the seafood broth interchangeably.

Ingredients for creamy tomato bisque.

What You’ll Need

Gather your ingredients to start making this homemade tomato bisque. I’ve included options for substitutions to ensure the recipe is flexible to your pantry and taste preferences. For the exact amounts, please scroll down to the recipe card.

  • Salted butter: If you use unsalted, adjust the amount of salt in the recipe. You could also substitute this with equal amounts of olive oil.
  • Yellow onion: Don’t use 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 tomato flavor.
  • 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, as well as fresh tomatoes.
  • Low-sodium chicken broth: If you use the regular kind, adjust the amount of salt in the recipe. You could also use vegetable broth.
  • 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 can be used, but not plant-based milk.
  • Parmesan cheese
  • Bay leaves
  • Salt and Black Pepper
  • Granulated sugar – Only use white sugar for this.

How to Make Creamy Tomato Bisque

This guide will show you a simple way to prepare this tomato soup recipe that packs a rich flavor, making it an ideal main dish when paired with a sandwich and a side salad.

  • 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 fire-roasted 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.
Overhead shot of tomato bisque in a soup pot, and a wooden spoon stirring through it.
5. Continue to cook for about 20 minutes for the flavors to meld.

Recipe Tips And Variations

  • Blender. If you don’t have a regular blender, use an immersion blender or food processor to achieve that smooth, creamy texture right in the cooking pot.
  • Make it richer. Substitute the whole milk with heavy cream for a more decadent, thicker tomato bisque.
  • Dairy Free. You can use coconut milk as a substitute for the heavy cream, but keep in mind that coconut milk will change the flavor profile of the dish.
  • 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 Italian seasoning.
  • Top with croutons. Once served, top the soup with cheese croutons for a crunchy bite.
  • Add roasted nuts. Add a tablespoon of 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.

Serving Suggestions

Tomato bisque paired with a grilled cheese sandwich is next level. My Fried Pizza Sandwiches are a match made in heaven. 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 Air Fryer Salmon Bites, Steak and Mushrooms Foil Packs, Oven Grilled Steak, and Bruschetta Stuffed Chicken Breasts.

close up shot of a bowl of creamy tomato bisque garnished with croutons and basil leaves, a spoon stirring through it.

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.

Freezing Instructions

  • To freeze the bisque, omit the heavy cream, cornstarch, and milk, as they separate during freezing and are difficult to blend back in after thawing. Freeze the cooled, dairy-free bisque in a freezer-safe container for up to 6 months. Thaw in the fridge overnight, then reheat in a pot, adding a slurry of heavy cream and cornstarch, along with milk. Simmer for 15 minutes on low heat, stirring occasionally, before serving.

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5 from 3 votes

Creamy Tomato Bisque

Indulge in the luxurious taste of this Creamy Tomato Bisque brimming with the rich flavors of tomatoes, cheese, and heavy cream.
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
Servings: 12 servings

Ingredients 

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Instructions 

  • 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.

Notes

  • Bisque: This is an elegant French name for crayfish soup, but in recent times, we have started to use the word ‘bisque’ 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.

Nutrition

Serving: 12g | Calories: 308kcal | Carbohydrates: 29g | Protein: 11g | Fat: 19g | Saturated Fat: 11g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 5g | Trans Fat: 0.2g | Cholesterol: 53mg | Sodium: 724mg | Potassium: 1071mg | Fiber: 6g | Sugar: 18g | Vitamin A: 1356IU | Vitamin C: 36mg | Calcium: 291mg | Iron: 5mg

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.

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7 Comments

  1. Catalina says:

    This tomato bisque is perfect for any season! Must make it soon!

  2. Erin | Dinners, Dishes and Dessert says:

    Looks absolutely fantastic! Need to make this soon!

    1. Katerina Petrovska says:

      Thank you, Erin! I hope you enjoy it! 🙂

  3. Krystle says:

    The cream and the herbs really cut the acid of the tomatoes, so good. We love making it with grilled cheeses

    1. Katerina Petrovska says:

      I’m very glad everyone enjoys it! Thank YOU! 🙂

  4. Beth says:

    This looks so cozy and satisfying. I think this is the next thing I’m going to make for the family.

    1. Katerina Petrovska says:

      Thank you so much, Beth! I hope you and your family enjoy it! 🙂