Creamy Tomato Basil Soup


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I started out with every intention to make an adaptation of the creamy tomato soup posted by Joy on Joy the Baker…I was going to add a little celery and a few garnishes that would drastically change the flavor of the soup. But everything else made me believe that her soup recipe (already adapted by Martha Stewart) probably didn’t need to be played around with too much.

But, after unpacking my much coveted tomato paste (that I found at one Carrefour, but not another) and storing it, I had one of those moments. You know, one of those, “The keys are in the refrigerator, phew.  The can of food is on the bathroom sink. I left our keys on the front seat of the car and we’re an hour from home at 11 PM” kind of moments. True stories. And definitely like that last one, but on a less urgent scale-unless you’ve been craving tomato soup for the last week and a half (thanks to Joy the Baker).

Let’s go back to the moment in question, shall we?I was thoroughly disgusted with myself because only one of the 3 cans of diced tomato I bought had an easy open tab.

To worsen my moment, we had seen a can opener at the store that served as a beer opener too. I insisted on buying an actual wine/beer bottle opener at the store when Juan pointed out that we could get one of those old-fashioned can openers since it would still open a bottle of beer and that we didn’t buy wine all that much.  I pointed out that in China, it seems normal to serve wine during dinner parties and that our visa issues out of the way, we can start to host those once in a while.

I suppose we could have gotten both, but I kind of fear those old-fashioned bottle openers. For one, I have tendinitis in both arms. For another, I’m left-handed. And for another, I’ve just never been able to deftly open a can with those things. In the end we didn’t buy one.

So, there I was standing in front of an open drawer looking at my cans of tomato paste and wishing they had tabs on them. But they didn’t, otherwise I wouldn’t be telling you this. I would be raving about Joy’s soup recipe. See, I don’t blame her for creating my craving…in fact, my own version of creamy tomato soup was so rich and delicious, I think she may have created a lifelong fan.

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But, I did drastically change this recipe for lack of appropriate ingredients and a few personal preferences.

First of all, I only had one can of diced tomatoes, not two. I just added three large tomatoes with their skins taken off.

I added celery, as an aromatic. I’m not a huge fan of celery in its raw form, but I do like the little bite that it gives food when it plays a very minor role in a dish.

Then, I also added a red pepper. I thought the contrasting colors in the puréed soup would be a very dramatic, satisfying effect. Plus, it adds a little extra sweetness that this soup needed given it is not tomato season and I used three fresh tomatoes to go with the one can of tomatoes that did have a little metal tab for my opening convenience.

And then there’s the ketchup instead of the tomato paste (my four little cans of that must not understand what’s going on, poor things). I was a little scared to do this, since I am usually a fan of trying to take things that haven’t been doctored up with sugar and spices and such. But, in France, I’ve seen children and hungry children heap spaghetti with the stuff. So, while I may never do that, I supposed I was less shocked by the swap than you might be. Another word of advice, you can use organic ketchup (which can taste a lot like tomato paste if you ask me), homemade ketchup, or a nice brand name that you trust. Once again, due to our canned tomato predicament, this probably added a little more sweetness then tomato paste would have.

So, I thought it all worked out quite nicely, in the end.

But I haven’t gotten to the best part yet.

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Fried onion strings for the garnish.

They create a layered taste effect. We slurp a spoonful of slightly sweet, robust, and creamy soup and reach the middle of the spoon to bite into a slightly salty, subtly crunchy effect.

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FYI-my son was either ravenous because I made him wait until 1:30 to eat, or he really, really liked my soup. Either way, he had an entire bowl and whined when I made him eat his side dish of scrambled eggs.

FYotherI-You should make this soup this week. Then you should head over to Joy the Baker and try her soup when you have successfully completed your leftovers! I am not asking you to compare them because they will surely be different. But, I did use her soup as inspiration, and there was a reason it inspired me in the first place! 

One last note: If you plan on making the Fried Onion Strings for garnish, you should be aware that you need to let the onions soak in milk for an hour before. You can cut these at the same time you cut your onion for the soup and set them aside!

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I’m linking up to Jam Hand’s Recipe Sharing Monday. I couldn’t get her linky image up, but check out all of the other wonderful ideas for inspiration in the kitchen this week.

You can also find this on All She Cooks, Week 62.


  • 1 small-medium onion, finely diced
  • 1 stalk of celery (Chinese celery is much smaller, so I used about 2 thin stalks), finely diced
  • 1 carrot, finely diced
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil (or mix of butter and oil)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • ¼ cup water
  • 3 tablespoons of ketchup
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 can of diced tomatoes
  • 3 tomatoes, skins removed before hand (I used the water I boiled to tomatoes in to create my broth)
  • 1 red pepper
  • 2 teaspoons dried basil


-Fried Onion Strings

-A small bunch of green onions, cut into small pieces


  • This soup is easy. Soup is usually pretty easy.
  • First you should toss the onion, carrot, and celery into a pot with 6 tablespoons of oil. Let them sautée for about 7-8 minutes, or until the onion has started to become translucent. You may have noticed you needed to dice the carrot, which I find to be a big pain. But we do that so that it cooks through while the onion is doing its thing. Stir everything a couple of times.
  • Have both your flour, your ketchup, and your chicken broth are ready. You gotta work fast.
  • Turn down the heat to medium low. Then, add in the flour while quickly stirring so that lumps don’t form. Pour in the ketchup. Add your chicken broth.
  • Then, open the can of tomatoes and tip that into your soup. Break up the three, now cool tomatoes with your hands. Slide your red peppers from the cutting board to the soup.
  • Cover and let simmer for 20 minutes or so-this is a soup. If you can let the flavors develop a little longer (30 minutes, 45 minutes), your taste buds will thank you later.
  • Serve and sprinkle with a few green onions and a generous amount of fried onion strings, maybe a grilled cheese sandwich or some fresh marinated mozzarella salad. Bon Appétit!



Adapted from Ree Drummond’s onion strings at The Pioneer Woman


  • ½ medium onion, cut in half
  • ½ cup milk
  • ½ cup flour
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • ¼-1/2 teaspoon or chipotle
  • 1 ½ cups oil, heated to 375°F


  • A dash of pepper
  • So, I recommend starting this recipe before the soup.
  • Cut your half onion in half, lengthwise. Then thinly slice your onion into very thin, even pieces.  Place them in a bowl and cover with the milk. Let sit for an hour (in all fairness, I only let them sit 30 minutes and I had crispy, crunchy fried goodness…).
  • About five minutes before coating your onions in flour, heat the oil in a medium (not large) frying pan.
  • Take about half of your onions using your hands like tongs and place them into a dry bowl, where you will coat and gently toss with at least half of the flour mixture.
  • You can use your fingers like tongs again to gently let the onions fall into the hot oil. Give a little stir with a spatula to separate them. And cook for 1 ½-2 minutes or until they turn golden brown.
  • Fish them out with the help of a slotted spoon and lay them out on a plate lined with paper towel.
  • Try not to stack them very high.

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    • sircserreb says

      Thanks! I stopped by your blog to check it out and I think I’ll have to stop by again-it looks like you have tons of nifty tips and tricks for the kitchen, but the internet here is a bit “on again, off again” and I can’t see any of the images. Thanks for stopping by!

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