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How to Make Tomato Basil Soup from Canned Tomato Soup

Learn the best ingredients to add if you want easy, creamy tomato basil soup

How to Make Tomato Basil Soup from Canned Tomato Soup

In the pantheon of comfort food, tomato basil soup has to be somewhere near the top. Something about the combination of rich, creamy tomatoes and savory seasonings just hits the spot. It's perfectly simple, wonderfully tasty, and versatile enough to use a side or as a light meal all on its own.

Tomato basil soup can be harder to make from scratch than other comfort foods, though, and so sometimes it's easiest to turn to canned tomato soup. Of course, that leads to a problem: canned soup just doesn't have the full, wholesome flavor of homemade tomato basil soup. Is there a way to enjoy that flavor easily?

Thankfully, the answer is yes! It's actually very easy to doctor up canned tomato soup and turn it into something delicious. And the best part is, you probably won't even have to go shopping. 

How to Make Tomato Basil Soup: Getting Started

Before you can start adding ingredients to your soup, there are a few things you should remember.

  1. Simmer: However much or however little you're planning to add to your canned soup, you should always bring it to a simmer (not a full boil!) first. This helps bring out the flavors of tomato and your other ingredients. The longer you simmer, the better. Ideally, you would keep the simmer going for 40 minutes or longer.
  2. Combine ingredients slowly: Take your time. Taste the soup while it simmers. Think about the process like you're nurturing the soup into maturity, making various course corrections as you go along. If you're following our simmering advice, you should have enough space to keep things slow and steady.
  3. Experiment and don't feel intimidated: Everything on this list works great with tomato soup, but you don't need to add them all, or even half of them, to have a great soup. Part of the beauty of starting with canned soup is that you already have a solid foundation. If you can't make it out to the store and you only have two or three of these ingredients around, they'll still add to the flavor. 

Making Tomato Basil Soup

How to Make Your Soup Creamier

Creamy tomato soup is the best, and making your soup more creamy is, thankfully, quite easy. All of these ingredients should do the trick.

  1. Whole milk: Probably your safest option, it's hard to go wrong here. 
  2. Heavy cream: For when you want your soup super rich and creamy. Be more conservative with how much you add.
  3. Butter: You can add just a tablespoon or two toward the end of your simmering. It will add a nice extra bit of creaminess and flavor.
A lot of tomato basil soup recipes tell you to add a drizzle of cream over the top of the soup after serving. This is a great idea. The creaminess is upped even more, and the presentation can look amazing with just a bit of practice.

How to Make Your Soup Rich

You probably don't just want your canned soup to be creamier, though. These ingredients can help expand the richness and complexity of your soup's flavors.

  1. More Tomatoes: You've got a few options here. You can go with tomato paste, which will do more to change the soup's consistency, or you can go with diced or crushed tomatoes if you want more direct explosions of flavor while you're eating. Either way, you can't go wrong with more tomato.
  2. Sauteed Onion and Garlic: This classic combo has been the unsung hero of many a tomato soup and sauce. Add it in early for the best results.
  3. Cheese: Cheddar is especially good. You can add it in the middle of the simmer if you like, but it's amazing grated over the top of the soup after it's been served. 

Improving Canned Tomato Soup

Ways to Add More Flavor to Your Soup

Now you've made it to the fun part. This is where your own personality can really shine. You can add many different seasonings to tomato soup, and most of them will come with the words "to taste" attached to them. 

  1. Basil: Obviously. You can't have tomato basil soup without basil. 
  2. Italian Seasonings: Oregano, thyme, and sage are all great choices. If you're not sure what to add specifically, you can always use an Italian seasoning mix
  3. Bay Leaves: These have a rather strong flavor, but that taste complements tomatoes quite well. Many recipes suggest using a pair of bay leaves as a garnish.
  4. Salt and Pepper: Classics that need no introduction. Add as much or as little as you prefer. 
  5. Garlic Powder: Only if you haven't already added garlic to the soup. 
  6. Sugar: This one may seem a bit weird, but sugar is great at bringing out and enhancing the natural, sweet flavors in tomatoes.
Never be afraid to be bold! This is comfort food, yes, and simplicity is part of comfort. But trying just a little extra dash of flavor never hurt anyone.

Tomato Basil Soup

More Tips for Making Tomato Basil Soup

As mentioned earlier, a longer simmer will help bring out the flavors of your soup. This affects when you should season it. If you're using dried seasonings, add them early so they have time to release their flavors into the soup. If you're using fresh herbs, though, add them close to the end of the process. This will preserve the intense, fresh flavor you want from quality ingredients. 

If you're using butter, be aware that many types of butter are salted. This may change how much salt you choose to add to the soup.

As mentioned earlier, it's also a great idea to taste your soup as you go along. It may be hard for you to sense what's going on in your work-in-progress soup at first, but given enough practice, you should be able to sense when something is missing or when there's too much of one flavor that needs to be balanced out.

What Foods Go with Your Tomato Basil Soup?

Tomato basil soup is wonderful on its own but it's also a perfect pairing with many other dishes and sides. If you're looking for a meal that's a bit more varied and satisfying, you'll want to browse some of these options.

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