Tomato Bisque ♥ Recipe

Tomato Bisque ♥, start with Marcella Hazan's Famous Tomato-Onion Sauce.
Today's rich tomato soup, a creamy tomato bisque that starts off with the famous Tomato-Onion Sauce from the now-deceased Italian cook Marcella Hazan who introduced Italian cuisine to the U.S. and Britain in the way that Julia Child introduced French cuisine. I make Hazan's Tomato-Onion Sauce with fresh tomatoes instead of the usual canned tomatoes. It's stunning!

Aren't tomatoes summer vegetables? (Yeah-yeah-yeah, tomatoes are really fruit not vegetables. But go with me, okay?) Last year, we harvested our first tomato in late June – and then not one more until late August! Most years here in Missouri and much of the Midwest, our best tomatoes are harvested in September and in good years, even well into October. That means that when the food blog world is humming Christmas carols obsessing over fall apples and all-things-pumpkin, our garden is still spitting out beautiful tomatoes.

And yes, such bounty can be overwhelming. By mid September, we've had our fill of Old Liz's Old-Fashioned Cucumber & Tomato Salad, BLTs and even BATTLE Sandwiches. Yet the tomatoes still stack up and up and up.

Even for an I-don't-put-foods-up seasonal cook like me, I am happy to use up bushels of ripe garden tomatoes to put aside some rich tomato sauce, my version of Marcella Hazan's famous Tomato-Onion Sauce. Mine's made with fresh tomatoes instead of canned tomatoes. It's so simple, a real revelation. It's not diet food but supremely satisfying.

The first batch or two, I scraped the skins off the tomatoes with a standing cheese grater, an effective albeit messy business. Loathe to lose any tomato essence, I then tossed the skins into the pot with the tomato flesh, fully intending to pull out the skins later. But when it came time to give the tomatoes, well, a whirl in the blender? I just chucked it all in and lucky thing, the skins disappeared! It all makes for a slightly rustic Tomato-Onion Sauce but not so much that you'd really notice. The next batch or two? I just chopped the tomatoes and threw them into the pot, skins and all. So much easier!

Some Tomato-Onion Sauce went into the freezer but one batch, I made Tomato Bisque. Twas a mighty quiet supper that night, silently slurping small servings (ha! all those sibilant s's!) of an ultra-rich totally-tomato soup. I'm adding this soup to a collection of "House Recipes" for fall's very best ripe tomatoes.

That said, if you're not up for an indulgence right now, for a much less-rich tomato soup made with fresh tomatoes, try Summer's Tomato Soup. Or if tomatoes are out of season, try Winter Tomato Soup which roasts canned tomatoes to draw out summer flavor. Both are long- long-time favorites, you won't be disappointed and will save many calories.


Hands-on time: 10 minutes
Time to table: 1 hour
Makes 4 cups

Yeah, just three ingredients!
3 pounds very ripe tomato, cores and any bruised flesh discarded
1 medium white or yellow onion, peeled and halved crosswise
4 tablespoons salted butter

3 cups Tomato-Onion Sauce
1 cup heavy cream

First make the Tomato-Onion Sauce. In a large, heavy pot such as a Dutch oven, bring the tomato, onion and butter to a boil. Reduce the heat to maintain a slow simmer and let simmer sloooooowly, uncovered, for about 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. The sauce is done when the Tomato-Onion Sauce becomes about as thick as a bolognese, about three cups worth.

Transfer the mixture to a blender. Carefully blend the soup until smooth. IMPORTANT If you're unfamiliar with how to safely blend a hot liquid in a blender, you'll want to review these safety tips, don't let yourself get burned!

Make the Tomato Bisque. Return the puréed Tomato-Onion Sauce to the Dutch oven and return to temperature on medium heat. Stir in the heavy cream and return just to a boil but do not allow to boil. Serve immediately, hot. And yeah, savor.

MAKE-AHEAD TIPS (1) Make the Tomato-Onion Sauce ahead of time, either refrigerate for a day or two or freeze. To serve, thaw the Sauce (if needed), then bring it just to a boil and add the cream. (2) Make the Tomato Bisque up to one day ahead of time and refrigerate. To serve, return just to a boil.

TOMATO I've made the Tomato-Onion Sauce several times over the years. I like it best with red tomatoes, they're slightly more acidic than the very pretty but less-acidic yellow tomatoes. Just make sure the tomatoes are really ripe, no grocery-store tomatoes for this, please, or you'll wonder what all the fuss is about. Because such ripe tomatoes can have bruises, it'll take something more than 3 pounds to yield a full three pounds of edible flesh. I've blanched the tomatoes first to remove the skins but I've also just tucked whole tomatoes in, skins and all. After time in the blender, you can hardly tell. That said, if I wanted an ultra-smooth bisque, I'd definitely remove the skins and even the seeds before cooking the sauce. You'd still need a full three pounds of edible tomato flesh.
TEMPERATURE If you're not in the kitchen while the Tomato-Onion Sauce simmers, check it every 5 minutes or so at first so that it doesn't boil. To avoid burning the sugary tomatoes, the temperature needs to be kept just high enough to maintain the simmer, no more.
RICHNESS With heavy cream, Tomato Bisque is rich-rich-rich. I'd be happy with much less richness, perhaps, say maybe just 2 tablespoons of butter for the Tomato-Onion Sauce and after that, half & half, whole milk or for something still totally tasty, even 2% milk.
ADAPTATIONS FROM THE ORIGINAL RECIPE Marcella Hazan blanches the tomatoes to remove the tomato skins and cooks the Tomato-Onion Sauce with 5 tablespoons butter. Yikes, even more butter!

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Still Hungry?


~ Two-Can Ten-Minute Homemade Tomato Soup ~
~ Rustic Tomato Basil Soup ~
~ Peasant Cabbage Tomato Soup ~
~ Tomato Gazpacho ~
~ more tomato soup recipes ~
from A Veggie Venture

~ Summer's Tomato Soup ~
~ Winter Tomato Soup ~
~ Cantaloupe-Tomato Gazpacho ~
from Kitchen Parade, my food column


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A Veggie Venture is home of "veggie evangelist" Alanna Kellogg and the
famous asparagus-to-zucchini Alphabet of Vegetables.

© Copyright Kitchen Parade 2018

Alanna Kellogg
Alanna Kellogg

A Veggie Venture is home of "veggie evangelist" Alanna Kellogg and the famous asparagus-to-zucchini Alphabet of Vegetables.


  1. I love that you use that Iittala mug to serve your soup :)

    And I've made that tomato sauce a few times - what a genious idea to use that as a base for a soup!

  2. Pille ~ You have eagle eyes, m’dear! I’m glad you like the soup idea, it’s all about “meal prep” for me these days!


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Thank you for taking a moment to write! I read each and every comment, for each and every recipe, whether a current recipe or a long-ago favorite. If you have a specific question, it's nearly always answered quick-quick. ~ Alanna