Roasted Tomato-Basil Soup

Creamy, comforting soup bursting with the flavor of fresh basil, roasted tomatoes and garlic.

Who doesn’t love a grilled cheese dipped in creamy tomato soup? It’s the perfect comfort food combo, and one that I’ve been craving lately on chilly evenings. As nostalgic as Campbell’s canned tomato soup makes me, this version blows the condensed stuff out of the water — and it’s so simple to make!

Ingredients for Roasted Tomato Soup

Fresh tomatoes: You can use a few cans of stewed tomatoes in a pinch, but I highly recommend roasting your own. I like to use 2-3 pounds of Roma tomatoes, but any variety will work fine as long as they’re ripe.

Roasted garlic: If you’ve never roasted a full head of garlic, you’re in for a treat! It’s very easy and you can roast a few heads at a time to store and use over the course of the week. (And trust me, once you’ve tried it, you’ll be wanting to add it to everything!)

Cashew cream or nondairy half & half: This is optional, but I always like to add one of these to make the soup extra creamy and luscious. To make homemade cashew cream, simply soak raw cashews 4+ hours (or boil for 10 minutes) and puree with enough water to create a consistency that mimics heavy cream or half & half.

For a store-bought option, I have tried half & half alternatives by the brands Forager, Ripple, Califia Farms and Silk, all of which would probably work perfectly in this recipe. You can also use part of a can of full-fat coconut milk if you don’t mind the slight coconut flavor it will impart upon the soup.

Fresh basil: Optional, but adds a really delicious, fresh flavor to the soup. If you don’t have fresh basil on hand, feel free to substitute in about 2 teaspoons dried basil.

Dried oregano and bay leaves: Both add some extra dimension to this soup. You can also feel free to add in any of your other favorite herbs, such as a sprig of thyme or rosemary.

How to Roast Tomatoes and Garlic for Homemade Tomato Soup

One reason this soup tastes so amazing is due to the deep, complex flavors developed by roasting the tomatoes and garlic till they’re browned. This process brings out the natural sweetness of both ingredients and cooks out excess liquid, resulting in ultra-concentrated flavor.

This step is extremely easy! We’ll be roasting both together for the same amount of time. Line a baking tray with parchment or a silicone baking mat for easy cleanup. Cut the tomatoes in half and arrange cut side up on a lined baking tray. Drizzle with olive oil and hit ’em with a generous pinch of salt and pepper.

You’ll also take an entire head of garlic and remove as much of the excess papery skin as possible. Slice off the pointy end of the head, exposing the inside of as many cloves as you can. You’ll then place this, cut side up, in the middle of a square of aluminum foil.

As with the tomatoes, you’ll drizzle this with good quality olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Wrap it up in foil and place it on the tray. I highly recommend roasting an extra head or two to use later in the week! You can keep the extras in foil or transfer to an airtight container and store in the fridge for up to a week.

How to Cook and Blend Your Roasted Tomato Soup

Once your tomatoes and garlic are roasted, you’ll simmer them with sautéed onions, herbs, and vegetable broth. I enjoy using a vegan chicken-flavored broth, such as the Better Than Bouillon No Chicken Base; it’s more savory than most traditional vegetable broths and balances the sweetness of the roasted tomatoes beautifully.

I also add some cashew cream, nondairy half & half, or full-fat coconut milk to impart a creamier mouthfeel to the soup, but this is optional. I like to add this at the last minute, after the soup has already simmered for about 30 minutes, just to ensure the cream doesn’t curdle due to the heat.

The tomatoes and onions will have broken down considerably while simmering, but the soup will still be quite chunky. At this point, you can blend the soup in small batches in a blender, or use an immersion blender directly in the pot. How much you blend will, depend on how much texture you want the finished soup to have.

This soup is the perfect accompaniment to vegan grilled cheese sandwiches (protip: Field Roast Chao slices and Follow Your Heart slices are my fave options for out-of-this-world, melty goodness). I love to garnish it with more fresh basil, pepper flakes and a drizzle of olive oil (or cashew cream, if I happen to have some handy). Crispy roasted chickpeas or croutons make great toppers as well. Bon appétit!

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Roasted Tomato-Basil Soup

Creamy, comforting soup bursting with the flavor of fresh basil, roasted tomatoes and garlic.
Course Soup
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Servings 4 servings
Author Sarah Sullivan

Ingredients

Roasted Tomatoes and Garlic

  • 2.5 lbs roma tomatoes
  • 1 head garlic
  • 1 medium onion diced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • salt and pepper

Roasted Tomato Soup

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil or vegan butter
  • ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes optional
  • 1 cup fresh basil thinly sliced
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 cup cashew cream or nondairy half & half*
  • 3 cups vegetable broth preferably chicken-style (see notes)
  • ½ cup fresh basil sliced (to top)

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 375°. Cut tomatoes in half. Arrange tomatoes on a lined baking sheet, cut side up, and drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  • Remove as much of the papery skin from your head of garlic as possible, then cut off the tip to expose the inside of the cloves. Place in the center of a sheet of aluminum foil and drizzle generously with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Wrap in foil, place on the baking tray with the tomatoes, and roast together for 1 hour. Allow to cool slightly, then squeeze roasted garlic paste out of skins.
  • In a stockpot over medium-high, bloom red pepper flakes in olive oil or vegan butter for 1 minute, then add diced onion and sauté for 2-3 minutes, until translucent and fragrant. Add roasted tomatoes and roasted garlic paste, along with vegetable broth, fresh basil, oregano, and bay leaves. Bring to a gentle boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer, uncovered, for 20-30 minutes.
  • Stir in cashew cream or nondairy half & half. (I like to add it at the end because, depending on the brand, it will sometimes curdle when cooked for too long or at too high a heat.)
  • Purée soup in small batches. I like to just pulse mine and leave it a little chunky – just blend till you reach your preferred consistency. You can do this using a blender with a heat-proof pitcher, or directly in the pot using an immersion blender. Safety tip: Be very careful if using a blender. Do not fill it up all the way. Leave the chute on the lid open, and hold a clean kitchen towel over it while pulsing. This will allow some of the steam to escape to keep the pressure from building up or your lid from flying off.
  • Garnish with fresh basil and serve.

Notes

*Feel free to substitute a different kind of unsweetened, plain plant milk. I'm simply recommending cashew cream (or even full-fat, canned coconut milk, if you don't mind the hint of coconut flavor) because of its very thick and creamy texture. For a store-bought option, the brands Forager, Ripple, Califia Farms and Silk all offer nondairy half & half alternatives in the US. You can also leave out the milk altogether. It just makes the finished soup a bit creamier.
**If you can get your hands on a faux chicken broth, it will taste great in this soup! Regular vegetable broths can oftentimes be quite sweet, and a more savory broth will balance the sweetness of the roasted tomatoes.
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