Creamy tomato bisque is a bit like tomato soup’s classier cousin–but the work load is nothing! A quick chop and simmer, and dash of cream makes a perfect first course or simple lunch you can make and enjoy all week. Use fresh tomatoes when they are in season or canned ones for colder months. You’ll be so glad to have this recipe in your files.Jump to Recipe
A chunky beefy soup has its place. But sometimes, there’s a spot in your soul for a savory bowl of something smoother and more delicate.
Get your grilled cheese sandwich out, because today’s creamy tomato bisque hits all the comfort food markers.
This is one soup you’ll need to save for your “when I have guests” files because it’s a perfect first course and the flavors are safe enough that just about everyone will love it.
What’s the difference between a soup and a bisque?
Soups are thinner and broth based and usually have chunks of cooked vegetables and meats or seafood. Bisques are thicker, pureed soups with cream that originated in France. Originally it was made from shellfish that’s been simmered and pureed into the soup but it can also be made from pureed vegetables and cream added.
If there’s cream in this, is tomato bisque healthy?
It is if you believe the right kinds of fats are good for you. Over the past several years I’ve learned a lot about fat–specifically good fat–and how it can benefit your body. I utilize fat to heal and manage my autoimmune disease and I’ve seen my husband drop his cholesterol 32 points on a diet of red meat and butter.
For your tomato bisque, choose real butter (grass fed is great) and cream without carageenan. The only way you can get away from carageenan is to get an organic cream. And remember: dietary fat content has very little influence on your blood cholesterol levels. Keep your sugar and vegetable oil consumption in check instead.
I’m dairy free, what can I do?
Coconut milk or canned coconut cream is a great swap for cream in this recipe. You can use your favorite healthy fat in place of the butter. Ghee is casein free, or you can use coconut oil, palm oil, lard, you name it. Just don’t use olive oil for sauteeing. It can turn toxic quickly in high heat.
If you want something fully vegetarian, you can use vegetable stock in place of the chicken stock.
Tips for the best creamy bisque
- As always, use the best chicken broth you can get. I always recommend keeping homemade stock in your freezer, but if you can’t do that I’d recommend trying Kettle and Fire Chicken Broth . Using bouillon cubes could ruin your bisque so avoid those.
- If fresh tomatoes are in season where you live, use those. Peel and core them first. If it’s winter, use good canned San Marzano whole tomatoes. Avoid a can of the grocery store basic “diced tomatoes” if you can. The flavor isn’t the same.
- You may find that this soup needs sweetness. I tried to avoid adding sugar but ended up with a bit of honey at the end. It helped the flavor significantly. If you want to use sugar, that’s your choice.
- This soup will need to be blended. That means using a hand immersion blender or a countertop blender but use great caution when blending hot soups and don’t put too much in at once.
There’s rice in your soup! Here’s why
Rice is an easy and affordable thickener for this bisque. I recommend using Basmati or Jasmine rice but honestly, I think you could even use your box of Minute Rice. Because it’s just 3 tablespoons, there’s no need to buy something special. It just needs to be a rice that can cook in 20 minutes or less so avoid some of the ones that take longer–like brown rice or arborio.
When the rice is blended in to the creamy tomato bisque, it creates a silky texture and just the right amount of thickening without being gloppy or gooey.
Steps for making creamy tomato bisque
In a large pot over medium heat, melt the butter and sautee the celery and onions until softened. Add the chopped garlic cloves and cook 1 minute until fragrant.
Add the chicken broth, tomatoes, rice, red pepper flakes and paprika and bring to a simmer. Cook 20-25 minutes until the vegetables are soft and the rice is cooked.
Once the vegetables are soft, use your blender to puree the soup until smooth. Add the 1/2 cup heavy cream (or a tad more!) and taste for seasoning. I added my salt here after cooking so I could see how the chicken broth was for saltiness. I also added a tablespoon of honey for a bit of sweetness.
Can this bisque be frozen?
Yes. It’s a great soup for keeping on hand in the freezer. I let it cool, then transfer serving sizes of my choice to an air tight container. Freeze for up to 3 months. You can also keep this bisque in the refrigerator for up to a week, warming a cup as you want it.
Creamy Tomato Bisque
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1/2 cup celery diced
- 1 cup onion diced
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 4 cups chicken broth vegetable broth substitutes
- 28 ounces San Marzano whole tomatoes
- 1/2 teaspoon paprika
- pinch red pepper flakes
- 3 tablespoons Basmati rice any rice that cooks in under 20 minutes works
- 3/4 cup heavy cream divided in to 1/2 cup and 1/4 cup
- 1 tablespoon honey sugar substitutes, but use 1 TEASPOON to start
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt add this slowly; taste as you go
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- fresh basil optional for garnish
- In a 4 quart or larger pot, add the butter over medium heat and melt. Add the celery and onion and cook until soft; about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook 1 minute.
- Add the broth, tomatoes, paprika, red pepper flakes and rice. Simmer, partially covered until the vegetables are very soft and the rice is cooked: 20-25 minutes.
- Puree soup with an immersion blender or traditional blender, being careful not to burn yourself.
- Add the 1/2 cup cream, honey, salt (a little at at time) and pepper.
- Transfer to serving bowls and drizzle each bowl with a bit of the remaining cream and sliced fresh basil if using.
- Leftovers can be frozen or the bisque can be refrigerated for up to a week.