roasted tomato soup

When I was a kid, my friend Katie and I played a game in which we had a restaurant. We wrote up a menu and would let our parents order food from it, and then we’d bring them what they ordered. In other words, our parents paid for their food twice – once at the grocery store, and then a second time to Katie and I after we heated it up in the microwave for them.

Among other delicacies, our menu included nachos (Cheez Whiz and chips) and tomato soup. Tomato soup was probably our specialty. At Katie’s house, the Campbell’s concentrate was mixed with milk, but at my house, we added water. Katie and I were nothing if not accommodating to our customers’ preferences.

This tomato soup is not that tomato soup. It’s brighter, fresher, but still deeply flavored from the roasted tomatoes. The shallots make it just a little sweet, and a pinch of allspice adds warmth. This soup, topped with whole wheat macaroni noodles and served alongside cheese toast, is my favorite meal. It’s even worth ordering in a real restaurant.

One year ago: Masa Pancakes with Chipotle Salsa and Poached Eggs (I’m about halfway through that same bag of masa harina.)
Two years ago: Spinach Bread
Three years ago: Raspberry Bars

Printer Friendly Recipe
Roasted Tomato Soup (adapted from Cooks Illustrated)

6 servings

This recipe is messier without an immersion blender, but I made it that way for years. Use a large slotted spoon to transfer the solids to the blender with a cup or two of liquid and blend to puree. Pour the pureed mixture back into the liquid; stir in the brandy. You can blend everything instead of just the solids, but the soup will turn orange instead of red.

Feel free to add in a few tablespoons of cream (or pureed cottage cheese for a healthier alternative) at the end if you’re like Katie’s family and prefer your tomato soup creamy.

2 (28-ounce) cans whole tomatoes in juice
1½ tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons butter
4 shallots, chopped
1 tablespoon tomato paste
⅛ teaspoon allspice
1¾ cup low-sodium chicken broth
¼ cup brandy

1. Adjust an oven rack to the upper middle position and heat the oven to 450 degrees. Line the bottom and sides of two 8- or 9-inch round pans with aluminum foil. Use a slotted spoon to remove the tomatoes, one by one, from their juice. Open the tomato on the side opposite the stem. Holding the tomato loosely in a fist, gently squeeze the tomato to remove most of its juice. Place the tomato stem-side up on one of the prepared pans. Repeat with the remaining tomatoes. Sprinkle the tomatoes with the brown sugar.  Roast the tomatoes until they are dry and lightly browned, about 45 minutes. Reserve the tomato juice.

2. Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the shallots, tomato paste, and allspice to the pot; stir, then cover the pot and cook, stirring occasionally, until the shallots are soft, about 10 minutes. Add the chicken broth, reserved tomato juice, and roasted tomatoes. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat, then reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer 15 minutes. Use an immersion blender to puree the soup. Stir in the brandy and serve.

This recipe is in one of my earliest blog entries, but I have simplified and healthified (but not de-tastified) the soup since then, so I thought it was worth posting an updated version.


  1. Quick question about the brandy, I don’t have any. Can I substitute anything else in and how important is it to the final taste?

  2. I love tomato soup SO MUCH! We were Campbells + water family but I can’t imagine not making my own now…it’s so much better!

  3. bridget says:

    Lucy – I don’t think it’s critical. If you have some sort of whiskey, you could add that, but you’ll be fine just skipping it too.

  4. Sarah R says:

    How funny that you mentioned the Masa. I bought some to make that dish and still have well over 3/4 left. I should get on that…

  5. So what makes it turn orange? every tomato soup and tomato sauce I make has always been orange… :/ This looks delicious and I will definitely have to try it. I saw on a food show (I think it was Good Eats) that tomatoes have a flavor component that can only be brought out by alcohol….Something about it makes it more of a comfort food for me!!

  6. bridget says:

    Kim – I know exactly the episode you’re referring to – it was the first Good Eats episode I ever saw!

    I believe tomato purees turn orange when air is mixed into them, lightening their color.

  7. aww, I love that you snuck my link in there! You’re the best! And I really bet this tomato soup is the best too. The brandy is so intriguing. By the way, I used to own a restaurant too, but I served up plastic food 🙂

  8. Allspice!?! Sold.

  9. Campbells with milk here growing up! I love tomato soup, your looks so fresh tasting, and I always add macaroni to mine too, usually ditalini. I never had cheese toast though, will need to try.

    I know you’re not in this area, but your post reminded me of THE BEST tomato soup and grilled cheese I recently had from The Cheese Truck (, it was seriously the best ever and a fun addition to the local farmer’s market.

  10. I’m not even a fan of tomato soup but that looks fantastic!

  11. My daughter loves to try varieties of tomato soup. I should make this for her. I love roasting tomatoes. They come out so completely different and beautiful in a different way. I’m here from a link to check out your recipe for vanilla frosting, so I’ll keep looking. Thanks!

  12. Tomato soup is probably my favorite soup of all time. With some grilled cheese (or cheesy bread if I’m trying to be classy), it can’t be beat. Yum!

  13. I’m not a huge fan of tomato soup but this does look tasty.

  14. When we started packing to move to California we discovered that my husband had managed to stockpile about 8 cans of Campbell’s tomato soup in the cupboard, which I refuse to eat. I made him tomato soup once before, but he didn’t like it. I think the roasting is key, but it never occurred to me to roast canned tomatoes. If it ever rains here again, this might be the plan!

  15. Random Q – when does the brown sugar come in to play?

  16. bridget says:

    Caitlin – Uh, yeah, I left that out. Oops. Fixed now. It’s rubbed into the tomatoes to help them brown in the oven.

  17. Do you strain the soup at the end to get out the seeds? Am I missing something?

  18. bridget says:

    CJ – When you squeeze the tomatoes in step 1 to extract some juice, the seeds will fall out as well. I used to strain them out at this step because supposedly they add a bitter flavor to the soup, but now I usually leave them in because I don’t notice a difference in flavor.

  19. Aaron says:

    I have a quick question, if I were to add some fresh basil, which step would you recommend adding it for the most potency?

    I have yet to read the entire Recipe, I was just wondering first.

    Also, love all your recipes.

  20. bridget says:

    Aaron – You’d want to add basil at the very end, right before serving. It loses potency the longer it’s cooked.

  21. Just stumbled upon your blog and I’ve been drooling scrolling through the posts! I love a good tomato soup – and this one looks REALLY good! Thanks for sharing! 🙂

  22. Mallory says:

    Just wanted to thank you for this recipe. I’ve made it many times, and even twice for company. I add a touch of half and half, but it’s delicious without it as well.