Creamy Tuscan Tomato Soup

Homemade soups are one of the easiest things to make, yet many people still buy soup in a can.

I guess those cans are ok in an emergency, but that soup will never taste as good as homemade. When you make your own soup, you're in control of the ingredients and you can make enough for a big family or put some single servings in the freezer for later. This is what I do all winter long. Making homemade soup is a good investment in your time and health. Ok. Hopefully, I've convinced you and you're ready to try this amazing tomato soup.

I consider this one of my pantry meals, even though some of the ingredients come from the refrigerator or freezer, instead of a shelf. I almost always have the makings for this soup on hand, which makes life easy when you're in a hurry and haven't taken the time to plan something to eat.

I start where most great meals begin, with a chopped onion. I store onions in my basement pantry, but it seems I've been using a lot of them lately, and I only had a half of onion in my refrigerator. Time to buy onions! I pulled out some scallions to go with the white one and then changed my mind and used a shallot instead. See how easy it is to substitute ingredients. Being a good cook, means learning how to use what you have and making it delicious

Put your chopped onions/shallots, etc. in a little olive oil in your favorite stock pot or soup pan. Saute until tender, but not browned.

Set the rest of your ingredients close by. I'm using my own canned tomatoes today, but you can easily use store bought whole tomatoes. You will get the best tomatoes when you purchase whole over chopped, and we are going to blend this soup at the end, so it's silky smooth. You also need chicken broth, your own homemade or store bought. Whenever I have the scraps in my freezer to make broth, I do, but I always keep some of these packaged broths on my shelves. I use chicken broth in a lot of recipes.

When the onions are soft, add your broth and then your tomatoes. Don't drain the tomatoes. You want all that good juice in your soup. Give it a stir. Cover and simmer for about 15 minutes.

If you have an immersion blender (stick), you can use it directly in the pot. Be careful, as it's easy to burn yourself with splattering soup. I prefer to put mine in my blender, because I like this soup very smooth, and a stick blender doesn't quite do the job.

Once you've blended the soup, add it back to your stockpot and put it over low heat to add the remaining ingredients. You need one cup of pesto. If you have frozen pesto from last year's basil harvest, this is your lucky day. If not, you can buy it in the grocery store. Add a cup of pesto and 1 1/2 cup cream or half and half.

Reheat slowly. Don't bring soup to a boil! At this point, all you need is a grilled cheese sandwich and dinner is served! Speaking of grilled cheese, maybe you'd like to try to make my peasant bread for this very purpose. It takes a little longer than the soup, but is just as easy to make. I promise. You can find the recipe here.

Creamy Tuscan Tomato Soup

1 chopped onion

2 T. olive oil

5 cups canned tomatoes ( usually about 3 large cans)

3 cups chicken broth

1 cup pesto

1 1/2 cups cream or half and half

salt and pepper to taste

Saute onion in olive oil until soft. Add broth and canned tomatoes. Don't drain the tomatoes. Cover and simmer for about 15 minutes.

Blend soup with stick blender or in blender until smooth. Pour back into stockpot and add pesto and cream. Heat gently until hot. Season to taste.

My lunch, topped with a little grated parmesan. Yum!


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