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Tomato Bisque Soup

Tomato Bisque Soup

By Chef John | It’s been awhile since I dropped a Seinfeld reference, but this hearty tomato bisque had me reminiscing about the famous “soup’s not a meal” episode. It’s rich, hearty, and satisfyingly thick without being heavy. Sorry, Bania, it counts. There are different opinions on what makes something a bisque. Technically, it’s made from some sort of shellfish puree, but modern usage includes vegetables as well. Above and beyond that, it has to have cream, and be thickened with rice.One problem with many of the tomato soups I’ve had, is that they are either thickened with tons of tomato paste, which is like eating a bowl of pasta sauce, or they’re thickened with a flour roux or cornstarch slurry, which leaves them too pasty for me. A little rice thickens the soup just as well , but also gives it a nice silky texture.As far as the canned tomatoes go, we’re using the same argument here we use for tomato sauce. Unless you have some amazingly sweet, vine-ripened specimens around, that you’ve peeled, seeded, and cooked down to get rid of the excess moisture, then chances are San Marzano tomatoes will produce a superior product.I tried to stress in the video how important it is to adjust the seasonings to your liking, especially the sweetness. Many of us were raised on Campbell’s tomato soup (and grilled cheese sandwiches, of course), and because that flavor is so ingrained in our taste memories, you need to get this at least close for it to work. Taste, adjust, taste, adjust, and as always, enjoy!
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour


  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 cup diced onion
  • 1/2 cup diced celery
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 quart chicken broth plus more as needed
  • 1 28-oz can crushed San Marzano tomatoes, or about 3 1/2 cups of other crushed tomatoes
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 3 tbsp white long grain rice
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 or 2 tsp sugar or to taste
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • cayenne to taste
  • basil to garnish