Healthier homemade tomato basil soup that is still rich and creamy with just pantry ingredients. Make it low fat or fancy it up with fresh basil. All ready in 30 minutes with these easy to follow step by step photo instructions.
Over the years, I have had "trouble" with tomato soup, specifically the canned stuff. I can't do it. The watered-down tomato-like taste. Just nothing redeeming about it.
I have occasionally made tomato soup with fresh tomatoes, generally the preferred method. The results have been very good. But I don't seem to have a great source of tomatoes on-demand, and honestly, it is more work than a simple soup should take.
The science part of me wants "reproducible" results. So I'm using ingredients that I can keep around with consistent quality.
A nice solid 4 for me. A bit higher for my wife.
You have choices here. The easiest will be crushed tomatoes. I have one I prefer so I'm good, but this is the main component, so you need to be happy with your choice.
You can also use whole or diced can tomatoes. You will need an emersion blender if you do.
If you want to use fresh tomatoes, you need a different recipe.
👨🍳Make it Lower Fat
The fat in this recipe is completely controlled by your choice of dairy to use.
Many recipes use heavy cream or at least half and half. I can not bring myself to do that. Non-fat evaporated milk is a common substitute and works great here.
You may also use cream, half and half, milk, or even chicken broth — your choice.
Yes, in many ways, it is an excellent source of antioxidants and some vitamins. My version is also very low in fat and calories, so it will fit almost any healthy diet.
Fresh basil will give a wonderful fresh taste but use dry if you need to. It will still be good.
The baking soda may seem odd to you. But it will neutralize the acid in the tomato, so it tastes less acidic, and the acid won't curdle the milk in the soup — both good things.
Since tomatoes are a natural product, they will vary some by ripeness and variety. A touch of sugar may be needed depending on your taste. Start at about ¼ teaspoon.
Foods like tomatoes, lemon products, vinegar, and many more, are acidic. Reactive cookware will react with acidic foods cooked in them and can leave a metallic taste in the food. It will also damage the reactive cookware.
Examples of reactive cookware would be aluminum, iron, and copper. I do love cast iron but not a good choice for tomatoes or other acidic ingredients.
Examples of non-reactive cookware are stainless steel, enamel, ceramic, glass, and non-stick cookware—the obvious choice for simmering things with acidic components.
Serving and Storage
A nice crusty bread is always good. But the classic is a grilled cheese sandwich.
Good refrigerated for 3-4 days. It can also be frozen for 3-4 months.
This recipe is listed in these categories. See them for more similar recipes.
🖼️Step-by-Step Photo Instructions
Notice both fresh and dry basil in the picture. It is one or the other.
If using fresh basil, prep 5 medium leaves by pinching off the stem, form a stack with the largest on the bottom and smallest on top. Roll from the stem end into a small "cigar". Cut into narrow ribbons by pulling the knife through the basil and not crushing it.
Add 28 oz canned crushed tomatoes to a large non-reactive saucepan. Add 1 teaspoon dry basil or the fresh basil, ½ teaspoon each of onion powder, garlic powder, kosher salt, and pepper. Also, add ½ teaspoon baking soda. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes.
Add 12 oz can of fat-free evaporated milk. Taste test for sweetness. Add ¼ teaspoon or more of sugar if desired, but I did not. You may also use cream, half and half, milk, or even chicken broth.
Simmer for 5 minutes more and serve.
Tomato Basil Soup
- 28 oz crushed tomatoes - one large can
- 12 oz Fat free evaporated milk
- 1 teaspoon dry basil - or 5 leaves fresh
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon pepper
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- sugar - optional if needed
- If using fresh basil, prep 5 medium leaves by pinching off the stem, form a stack with the largest on the bottom and smallest on top. Roll from the stem end into a small "cigar". Cut into narrow ribbons by pulling the knife through the basil and not crushing it.
- Add 28 oz canned crushed tomatoes to a large non-reactive saucepan. Add 1 teaspoon dry basil or the fresh basil, ½ teaspoon each of onion powder, garlic powder, kosher salt, and pepper. Also, add ½ teaspoon baking soda. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes.
- Add 12 oz can of fat-free evaporated milk. You may also use cream, half and half, milk, or even chicken broth.
- Taste test for sweetness. Add ¼ teaspoon or more of sugar if desired, but I did not.
- Simmer for 5 minutes more and serve.
My Private Notes
- The tomatoes are key to this recipe. Use a brand you love. Do not use cheap generic tomatoes.
- I used crushed tomatoes but whole or diced can be used but you will need an immersion blender.
- The fresh basil is worth the trouble here, but a good dried basil will be fine.
- I suggest the non-fat evaporated milk, but you can use heavy cream, half and half, milk, or chicken broth.
- Testing for sweetness is necessary due to tomato variations.
- Good refrigerated for up to 4 days. Should freeze well for 3-4 months.
- The baking soda is somewhat the "secret ingredient". It will neutralize the acid in the tomato, so it tastes less acidic, and prevent the curdling of milk products in the soup.
To adjust the recipe size:
You may adjust the number of servings in this recipe card under servings. This does the math for the ingredients for you. BUT it does NOT adjust the text of the instructions. So you need to do that yourself.
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Originally Published January 13, 2019. Updated with expanded options, refreshed photos, and a table of contents to help navigation.