There’s a reason “tomato bisque” is on so many restaurants’ menus. It’s a classic comfort food, and so simple to make from regular pantry ingredients you’ll wonder why you ever settled for the stuff in a can. My version includes a bit of red bell pepper and carrot for a touch of extra flavor and sweetness. This is perfect on a chilly day or rainy night, and we love to pair it with a tuna on homemade rye or classic grilled cheese sandwich.
Extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper
1 medium onion, chopped (I like sweet onions, but yellow works well here, too)
1/2 medium red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 medium carrot, peeled and diced
3 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
1 tsp. Italian herb seasoning (or some combination of oregano, basil, thyme, rosemary)
A pinch of crushed red pepper
28 oz. can peeled plum tomatoes (San Marzano, if possible)
1/2 cup vegetable broth or 3/4 cup V-8 juice
1/4 cup whole milk, half-n-half or heavy cream (omit or substitute canned coconut milk if vegan)
Freshly grated parmesan cheese (omit for vegan) and chopped parsley or basil for serving
cutting board and knife, heavy-bottomed tall pot, flat wooden utensil or spoon, immersion blender*
Let’s Get Cooking!
Place a deep, heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat. Add a generous swirl of olive oil (about 2 to 3 tablespoons). When oil begins to shimmer, add onion, pepper and carrot all at once. Salt and pepper to taste, then stir and cook until all begin to soften. Add chopped garlic and seasoning blend, stir and cook another minute or two until onions seem slightly translucent.
Add the plum tomatoes, using your hand to squeeze each tomato into the pot. This helps release the juices and gives them a head start on breaking up in the pot. Squeeze slowly and gently so you don’t wear it! Add all the tomatoes plus all remaining liquid from the can, but discard any basil leaves that may be in the can. Add broth or juice, stir to mix evenly and bring just to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer uncovered on medium-low about 30 minutes. Stir occasionally to prevent burning. Adjust seasoning to taste.
When mixture appears less chunky and somewhat reduced, turn off heat and use an immersion blender to puree until mixture is as smooth as you like. Simmer on low another few minutes to allow air bubbles to disperse and soup to reduce to your preferred thickness. If it’s too thick, stir in a bit more vegetable broth. Remove from heat and swirl in milk or substitute. Ladle into bowls and swirl a drizzle of olive oil over the top of the soup and sprinkle with parmesan and fresh chopped herbs as you like.