You say tomato…


It’s cold in New York. Like wear-a-ski-mask-in-midtown cold. Even though I grew up in the tundra that is Central New York, the wind tunnels of the city still chill me to the bone. Enter: soup. I have loved tomato soup since it was mm-mm good. On a cold winter’s day, nothing hits the spot like some Campbell’s and a grilled cheese. Except for this soup. Homemade tomato soup is a treat that is well worth the time and effort (while minimal, it’s still a bit more complicated than opening a can of condensed.) This recipe hails from Cooks Illustrated, the magazine that prides itself in testing and re-testing recipes to perfection. Made without cream, this version uses the old Italian addition of bread as a thickener. Pappa al pomodoro, a favorite from my Florentine cooking class, is basically this soup before it’s pureed.  The best part? It’s made with pantry staples available year-round.  

Creamless Creamy Tomato Soup

  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
  • 1 medium onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 3 medium garlic cloves, minced or pressed
  • 1 pinch hot red pepper flakes
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 (28-ounce) cans whole tomatoes in juice
  • 1 Tablespoon brown sugar
  • 3 large slices good-quality sandwich bread, crusts removed, torn into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 cups broth (vegetable or chicken)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Freshly grated Parmesan (for topping)


  1. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in Dutch oven over medium-high heat until shimmering.
  2. Add onion, garlic, red pepper flakes, and bay leaf. Cook, stirring often, until onion is translucent, 3 to 5 minutes.
  3. Stir in tomatoes and their juice. Using a potato masher, mash until no pieces bigger than 2 inches remain.
  4. Stir in sugar and bread; bring soup to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally, until bread is completely saturated and starts to break down, about 5 minutes. Remove bay leaf and discard.
  5. Transfer half of soup to a blender, add one tablespoon olive oil and process until soup is smooth and creamy, 2 to 3 minutes (See notes). Transfer to a large bowl and repeat with remaining soup and oil. (Or use an immersion blender!)
  6. Rinse out Dutch oven and return soup to pot. Stir in  broth. Return soup to a boil and season to taste with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with Parmesan.

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