Welcome to the heart of culinary exploration, where we aim to elevate the humble yet flavorsome Tomato Herb Soup to the spotlight it deserves.
Handpicked vine-ripened tomatoes, a medley of aromatic herbs, and a dash of craftsmanship converge in this traditional delicacy, taking it from simple to sensational.
There’s a captivating story simmering within each bowl of this radiant soup. From the sun-soaked tomato fields that color the Italian countryside to the vibrant local markets laden with piquant herbs – every ingredient boasts an extraordinary journey.
Our version is steeped in such tales, brought to life through our kitchen’s unique blend of innovation and tradition.
Understanding the nuanced complexity of this dish not only enriches your gastronomic experience and provides a nutrient-rich meal that champions your health.
So, sit back, let your senses dive into the layered symphony of this Tomato Herb Soup, and prepare for a culinary revelation.
What Is Tomato Herb Soup?
Tomato Herb Soup is a vibrant, warming dish from a robust blend of ripe tomatoes and aromatic herbs.
This soup is revered for its delectably tangy and earthy flavor profile, further accentuated by underlying hints of garlic and onions.
A splash of cream or a sprinkle of cheese is often added for a luxurious texture. It’s not just a culinary delight; the nutrient-rich tomatoes and herbs also make it a healthful choice. Perfect for any season, this soup is comfortable in a bowl.
History Of Tomato Herb Soup
Tomato Herb Soup is deeply rooted in the culinary traditions of several cultures, with its origins not easily traceable to a single point.
Tomatoes, native to South America, were introduced to Europe in the 16th century, transforming culinary landscapes.
The concept of tomato-based soup likely originated in Italy, given their love for tomatoes and fresh herbs.
However, in the United States, tomato soup gained significant popularity in the 19th century when Joseph Campbell launched condensed tomato soup.
Adding herbs has been a natural evolution, infusing an extra layer of flavor and health benefits to this enduring staple.
Interesting Facts About Tomato Herb Soup
- Tomatoes’ New World Origins: The primary ingredient in tomato herb soup, the tomato, has New World origins. Native to western South America and Central America, it took centuries for the tomato to make its way into European and, subsequently, global cuisine.
- Popularity in the United States: Tomato soup rose to fame in the United States in the late 1800s. Joseph Campbell’s condensed tomato soup, introduced in 1897, became a pantry staple, making tomato soup a popular comfort food nationwide.
- Nutritional Powerhouse: Tomato herb soup is not just tasty; it’s healthy. Tomatoes are rich in antioxidants like lycopene, known for their potential protective effects against certain types of cancer. Herbs add flavor and health benefits, such as anti-inflammatory properties in basil and immune-boosting characteristics in oregano.
- Versatility: The recipe for tomato herb soup is extremely versatile. You can use different types of tomatoes and experiment with various herbs to create unique flavors. It can be served hot or cold, making it a great dish for any season.
- The Grilled Cheese Companion: In American cuisine, tomato soup is often paired with a grilled cheese sandwich. The tangy soup complements the rich, cheesy sandwich, making it a classic comfort food combo.
What Makes Tomato Herb Soup Special?
Tomato Herb Soup’s specialty lies in its simplicity and versatility. It marries the robust flavors of ripe tomatoes with the complex profiles of various herbs, producing a culinary symphony that can be adjusted to individual tastes.
It’s a dish that can be easily tweaked – from the types of tomatoes used to the selection of herbs and the choice of accompaniments. Additionally, it’s a soup for all seasons. Serve it chilled in the summertime for a refreshing meal or hot in the winter for a comforting bowl of warmth.
Not to mention, the nutritional aspect of this soup is a bonus. Tomatoes are a rich source of antioxidants, like lycopene, and herbs offer an array of health benefits, making it a meal that nourishes as much as it delights.
|Olive oil||1 Tbsp|
|Onion (chopped)||1-1/2 cups|
|Dill weed (chopped)||1 tsp|
|Fresh thyme leaves (chopped)||1 tsp|
|Fresh basil (roughly chopped)||1 Tbsp|
|Black pepper (fresh)||1 tsp|
|Coarse sea salt||1/2 tsp|
|Diced tomatoes (with juice)||28-oz can|
|Agave nectar or honey||1 Tbsp|
|Mayonnaise (Hellmann’s)||1 Tbsp|
|Extra herbs (for garnish)||As needed|
- Choosing Tomatoes: Opt for ripe, juicy tomatoes as they are the soup’s star. If fresh, quality tomatoes are unavailable, canned, whole-peeled tomatoes can be a great substitute.
- Fresh Herbs: Whenever possible, use fresh herbs over-dried ones. They impart a brighter, more pronounced flavor to the soup. Common choices include basil, thyme, and oregano, but don’t hesitate to experiment with others like rosemary or sage.
- Onions and Garlic: These are foundational flavor elements. Choose fresh garlic over powdered or jarred versions, and opt for yellow or white onions for their delicate sweetness.
- Vegetable Stock: Consider making your own for superior flavor, but a good-quality store-bought version can work in a pinch.
- Cream or Non-dairy Alternatives: If you prefer a creamier soup, add a splash of cream, coconut milk, or a non-dairy alternative. Remember, this will soften the acidity of the tomatoes and alter the flavor profile slightly.
Can You Vary The Recipe With Other Ingredients?
- Protein: Add chicken, tofu, or chickpeas to make the soup more substantial.
- Grains: Add cooked rice, quinoa, or even small pasta like orzo to the soup for an added texture and to increase its filling quality.
- Vegetables: Add other vegetables like bell peppers, zucchini, spinach, or carrots. Roasted red peppers can add a wonderful smoky flavor.
- Spices: Add a dash of chili flakes for heat, a spoonful of smoked paprika for a smoky flavor, or a pinch of saffron for a luxurious twist.
- Seafood: Shrimp or crab can be an excellent addition to tomato soup, offering a seafood variant that pairs well with the acidity of the tomatoes.
- In a large, sturdy pan, gently heat a generous amount of exquisite extra virgin olive oil along with a decadent knob of creamy butter.
- Add finely diced onions and lovingly sauté until they reach a state of heavenly tenderness, releasing their delightful aroma.
- Next, generously sprinkle in a harmonious blend of fragrant dill weed, aromatic thyme, fresh basil leaves, a pinch of freshly cracked black pepper, and a gentle sprinkle of sea salt, creating a symphony of flavors.
- As the fragrances meld together, introduce a delightful eruption of diced tomatoes, lovingly enveloped in their precious juices.
- Incorporate a delicate drizzle of agave nectar or, for a touch of natural sweetness, a dollop of golden honey, allowing the ingredients to harmonize in a blissful dance.
- As the flavors intertwine, maintain a gentle simmer, allowing the symphony to reach a crescendo over a period of 15 minutes
- Finally, with an artistic touch, serve this culinary masterpiece garnished with a generous sprinkle of freshly picked herbs.
Variations, Add-Ons, And Toppings
Variations And Add-Ons
- Proteins: Add diced grilled chicken, mini meatballs, cooked lentils, or tofu for extra protein.
- Vegetables: Add roasted vegetables, such as bell peppers, zucchini, or eggplant, for extra flavor and nutrition. A handful of spinach or kale stirred in before serving adds color and vitamins.
- Beans and Grains: White beans, chickpeas, or cooked barley can make your soup heartier.
- Seafood: Add cooked shrimp or chunks of flaky white fish for a luxurious twist.
- Cheese: Stir in some grated Parmesan or sharp cheddar until melted and smooth.
- Herbs: Bringing fresh chopped basil, parsley, or chives adds brightness.
- Cheese: Grated Parmesan, crumbled feta, or a dollop of ricotta can be delicious.
- Croutons: Homemade croutons or a slice of toasted crusty bread adds a satisfying crunch.
- Cream: A cream or spoonful of Greek yogurt drizzle creates a creamy contrast.
- Seeds/Nuts: Toasted pumpkin seeds, pine nuts, or slivered almonds can give a delightful texture.
Scaling The Recipe
- Multiply each ingredient quantity by the desired factor. For example, if you want to double the recipe, multiply each element by 2.
- Divide each ingredient quantity by the desired factor. For example, if you want to make half the recipe, divide each ingredient by 2.
What Is Used For Garnishing ?
- Fresh Herbs: A sprig of fresh basil, a sprinkle of chopped parsley, or a few leaves of fresh thyme can bring a pop of color and a new flavor.
- Cream: A swirl of heavy cream, sour cream, or yogurt not only looks beautiful but also adds a creamy element that balances the acidity of the tomatoes.
- Cheese: Sprinkling freshly grated Parmesan cheese, a few dollops of ricotta, or crumbled feta can add a delicious savory element.
- Croutons: A handful of homemade croutons can provide a contrasting crunch and soak up the soup’s flavor.
- Olive Oil: A drizzle of good-quality olive oil can add a rich, fruity element that complements the soup’s flavors.
Can I Make Soup In A Slow Cooker Or Instant Pot?
- Slow cooking allows the flavors to develop and meld together over a longer period, leading to a soup with a deep, rich flavor.
To make tomato herb soup in a slow cooker, add all ingredients, cover, and cook on low for 6-8 hours or on high for 3-4 hours.
- Once done, you can use an immersion or stand blender to purée the soup until smooth. If you’re adding dairy, it’s best to do this at the end of the cooking process to prevent curdling.
- An Instant Pot can significantly speed up the cooking process. Saute the onions, garlic, and herbs using the Saute function before adding the tomatoes and broth. Secure the lid, set the valve to “Sealing,” and cook on high pressure for 15 minutes.
- Allow a natural pressure release for 10 minutes, followed by a quick getaway. Just like with the slow cooker, purée the soup until smooth after cooking, and add any dairy products at the end.
Can I Use Store-Bought Broth, Or Should I Make My Own?
You certainly can use store-bought broth in your tomato herb soup. It can save a lot of time and effort. When choosing a store-bought broth, look for low-sodium options and brands that do not contain MSG or artificial flavors.
These options will give you more control over your soup’s sodium and flavor content.
However, if you have the time and ingredients, making your broth can yield even more flavorful results. Homemade broth allows for complete control over the flavor profile and salt content.
Plus, it’s a great way to use vegetable scraps and leftover herbs.
Can I Use A Different Type Of Meat/Fish/Pasta/Vegetables For The Soup?
- Meat: Diced chicken, mini meatballs, or even crumbled Italian sausage could make tasty additions to the soup, adding a hearty, protein-packed element.
- Fish: Add chunks of sturdy fish like cod or salmon or shellfish like shrimp or mussels for a pescatarian twist. Be sure to add these towards the end of cooking to prevent overcooking.
- Pasta: Small types of pasta like orzo, ditalini, or even tortellini can turn your soup into a more filling meal. If adding pasta, cook it separately to al dente and add it to the soup just before serving to prevent it from getting too soft.
- Vegetables: Adding more vegetables can boost the nutritional value of your soup. Consider bell peppers, zucchini, spinach, kale, carrots, or peas. Roasted vegetables can also add a depth of flavor to the soup. Remember to adjust the cooking time depending on the vegetables you’re adding.
Success Tips – Tips And Tricks For Making Tomato Herb Soup
- Ensure the onions are chopped uniformly to ensure even cooking and distribution of flavors.
- Use fresh herbs whenever possible for maximum flavor. If you don’t have fresh herbs, you can substitute them with dried herbs, but reduce the quantity by half.
- Adjust the seasoning to your taste. Taste the dish as you go, and add more salt, pepper, or herbs if desired.
- Use a high-quality brand of diced tomatoes to enhance the dish’s overall flavor.
- Be careful not to overcook the dish, as the flavors of the herbs and spices can diminish with excessive cooking time.
- Quality Ingredients: Choose ripe, fresh tomatoes for the best flavor. Opt for a high-quality brand for the best results if you’re using canned tomatoes.
- Prep Ahead: Chop all your vegetables and measure your ingredients before cooking. This will make the cooking process smoother and quicker.
- Herbs: Fresh herbs give the best flavor. Rinse and dry them properly before chopping to maximize their aromatic potential.
- Blending: If you prefer a smooth soup, you’ll need to blend it. An immersion blender works great, but a regular blender can also be used. Remember to allow the soup to cool slightly before blending to avoid splattering.
Cooking Time Tips
- Slow and Steady: Allow enough time for the soup to simmer. This will let the flavors meld together, resulting in a deeper, richer flavor.
- Stirring: Make sure to stir the soup occasionally to prevent it from sticking to the bottom of the pot and burning.
- Tasting: Taste the soup throughout the cooking process. This will allow you to adjust the seasoning as needed.
- Cooking Pasta: If you add pasta to the soup, cook it separately to al dente and add it just before serving to prevent it from getting too soft.
The recipe’s nutritional value may vary based on the specific brands and quantities of ingredients used.
It is recommended to calculate the nutritional information using a reliable recipe calculator or consult the packaging labels of the ingredients used to determine the accurate values for calories, fat, carbohydrates, protein, and other nutrients.
What Are The Total Calories In The Soup?
The total calories in a serving of tomato herb soup can vary greatly depending on the specific ingredients and quantities used.
However, as a general reference, a one-cup serving of basic homemade tomato herb soup (made with fresh tomatoes, onions, garlic, herbs, a small amount of olive oil, and vegetable broth) can have around 90-100 calories.
Dietary Restrictions For The Recipe
- Vegetarian/Vegan: A classic tomato herb soup is typically vegetarian. Avoid animal-derived products such as butter or cream to ensure it’s vegan. Use olive oil for sautéing and replace cream with coconut milk or another plant-based milk for creaminess.
- Gluten-Free: The basic soup is naturally gluten-free. However, if you add processed ingredients or serve with bread or croutons, ensure those are gluten-free.
- Dairy-Free/Lactose-Free: Avoid using butter, cream, or cheese. Use olive oil for sautéing and a dairy-free alternative for creaminess if needed.
- Low Sodium: Use a low-sodium or unsalted broth and limit the added salt. You can enhance the flavor with additional herbs and spices.
- Low Calorie/Low Fat: Limit the use of oil and replace cream with a lower calorie option like almond milk. Also, be mindful of high-calorie toppings.
Health Benefits Of The Recipe
- Tomatoes: Tomatoes are high in antioxidants, such as lycopene, which has been linked to reduced risk of heart disease and cancer. They are also a great vitamin C, potassium, folate, and vitamin K source.
- Herbs: Herbs like basil, oregano, and thyme add flavor and provide various health benefits. They’re packed with antioxidants and have anti-inflammatory properties.
- Garlic and Onion: These ingredients contain compounds beneficial for heart health. They also boost the immune system due to their antiviral and antibacterial properties.
- Olive Oil: If your recipe includes olive oil, you’ll get a dose of healthy fats to help lower bad cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of heart disease.
- Vegetable Broth: If you’re using vegetable broth, this can add vitamins and minerals to your soup, depending on the mix of vegetables used in its creation.
How Can I Make Soup Lower In Sodium?
- Use Fresh Or No-Salt-Added Tomatoes: If you’re using canned tomatoes, look for cans that say “no salt added.” If you use fresh tomatoes, you’re already eliminating the extra sodium in canned products.
- Homemade Broth: Consider making your vegetable or chicken broth. Store-bought broths are often high in sodium. By making your own, you can control the amount of salt that goes into it.
- Limit Added Salt: Be mindful of how much salt you add while cooking. You can always add more at the end but you can’t remove it once it’s there.
- Season with Herbs and Spices: Use a variety of herbs and spices to flavor your soup. This can include fresh herbs like basil, thyme, and oregano or spices like black pepper, paprika, and chili flakes.
- Add Acid: A bit of acid, such as lemon juice or vinegar, can brighten up the flavors of the soup and make it taste saltier without adding any extra sodium.
How Can I Make Soup Lower In Sugar?
- Use Fresh Tomatoes: Fresh tomatoes typically have less sugar than canned tomatoes. If canned tomatoes are necessary, look for brands with no added sugar.
- Watch Your Onions: Onions, while they contribute a great depth of flavor, can also add to the sugar content as they caramelize and their natural sugars are released. To limit this, you can sauté the onions until they’re translucent rather than fully caramelized.
- Choose Low-Sugar Broth: Some store-bought broths can contain added sugars. Check the label for added sugars and choose a low-sugar or sugar-free option.
- Limit Sweet Vegetables: Certain vegetables, like carrots or bell peppers, have a higher sugar content. To lower the sugar, consider reducing these or using less sweet vegetables.
- Avoid Adding Sugar: Some recipes may suggest adding a pinch of sugar to balance the acidity of the tomatoes. You can skip this or try a non-sugar alternative to balance acidity, like a small amount of baking soda.
How To Serve The Soup At Its Best?
- Temperature: Tomato herb soup is best served hot but not scalding. Allow it to cool for a few minutes after cooking to reach the perfect serving temperature.
- Garnish: Before serving, garnish your soup with fresh herbs, a drizzle of high-quality olive oil, or a sprinkle of cheese. This adds an extra layer of flavor and makes the soup look more appealing.
- Presentation: Serve your soup in warm bowls to ensure it stays hot longer. A sprig of fresh basil or a swirl of cream on top can add a touch of elegance.
- Pairings: Tomato herb soup pairs beautifully with a slice of crusty bread for dipping. A side salad with a simple vinaigrette also complements the rich, hearty flavors of the soup. Consider serving the meal alongside a grilled cheese sandwich to make it even more robust.
- Wine Pairing: If you’re serving wine, a light, crisp white wine like Sauvignon Blanc or a light-bodied red like Pinot Noir can complement the acidity and robustness of the soup.
Perfect Side Dishes To Complement The Recipe
- Grilled Cheese Sandwich: A classic pairing for tomato soup, the creamy, melted cheese and crispy bread compliment the soup perfectly. Try using a strong cheese like aged cheddar or gruyere for an extra flavor punch.
- Garlic Bread: Garlic bread, with its robust flavor and crispy texture, is another great option to pair with tomato herb soup. You can use it for dipping or enjoy it on the side.
- Simple Green Salad: A fresh green salad with a vinaigrette dressing can contrast refreshingly with the rich, hearty soup. Ingredients like mixed greens, cucumber, cherry tomatoes, and a simple lemon-olive oil dressing work well.
- Roasted Vegetables: Roasted vegetables like zucchini, bell peppers, or eggplant would pair nicely, their caramelized flavors matching the soup’s richness.
- Bruschetta: A simple tomato and basil bruschetta can complement the soup and carry through the tomato and herb flavors.
How Long Can We Store The Soup?
In the refrigerator, properly stored, tomato herb soup can last for about 3 to 4 days. Store the soup in airtight containers to maintain its freshness and prevent it from absorbing odors from other foods.
If you want to store the soup for longer, you can freeze it. Tomato herb soup freezes quite well, thanks to its lack of dairy (dairy can sometimes separate or become grainy when frozen and then reheated). The soup can last for up to 2 to 3 months in a freezer-safe, airtight container.
When ready to eat, defrost the soup in the refrigerator overnight and reheat it on the stove over medium heat, stirring occasionally. If the soup is frozen in a microwave-safe container, you can also defrost it using the defrost setting.
Can I Make Soup In Advance ?
You can prepare tomato herb soup in advance. It’s one of those dishes that often tastes even better the next day after the flavors have had time to meld together.
To make the soup in advance, follow your recipe as instructed, then let the soup cool to room temperature.
Once cooled, transfer it to an airtight container and store it in the refrigerator. Properly stored, the soup should last about 3 to 4 days in the fridge.
When you’re ready to serve the soup, reheat it on the stove over medium heat until it’s hot. You may need to add a little water or broth if the fridge thickens too much.
What Can We Do With Leftovers?
- Pasta Sauce: Reduce the soup over medium heat until it thickens to a sauce-like consistency. You can then toss it with pasta for a quick and easy meal.
- Stew Base: Use the soup as a base for a hearty stew. Add proteins like beans, lentils, chicken, beef, and other vegetables. Simmer until everything is cooked through and the flavors meld.
- Shakshuka: Simmer the soup until it thickens, create small wells, and crack eggs into them. Cover and cook until the eggs are done to your liking. Sprinkle with fresh herbs and serve with crusty bread.
- Grain Bowls: Use the soup as a flavorful sauce for grain bowls. Pour it over cooked quinoa, rice, or farro, and top with your choice of protein and veggies.
- Freeze For Later: If you can’t use the leftovers immediately, consider freezing them. Tomato herb soup freezes well and can be a lifesaver when you need a quick meal.
Special Tools And Equipment Needed
- Large pan Or pot: For cooking the soup and simmering the ingredients.
- Cutting Board And Knife: For chopping the onions and herbs.
- Stirring Utensil: To mix the ingredients while cooking.
- Immersion Or Regular Blender: To blend the soup to a smooth consistency.
- Ladle: For serving the soup in bowls.
- Measuring Spoons And Cups: To accurately measure the ingredients.
- Optional: Timer if you prefer to keep track of cooking and simmering times.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I Use Dried Herbs Instead Of Fresh Herbs In The Recipe?
Yes, you can use dried herbs as a substitute for fresh herbs. However, reduce the quantity by half, as dried herbs are more concentrated in flavor.
Can I Use Canned Diced Tomatoes Instead Of Fresh Tomatoes?
Yes, you can use canned diced tomatoes. The recipe already calls for a 28-oz can of diced tomatoes. Ensure to include the juice from the can, as it adds flavor to the soup.
Can I Freeze The Soup For Later Use?
Yes, you can freeze the soup for later use. Allow the soup to cool completely, then transfer it to freezer-safe containers or bags. It can be stored in the freezer for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator before reheating.
Can I Substitute Mayonnaise With A Non-Dairy Alternative?
You can substitute mayonnaise with a non-dairy alternative, such as vegan mayonnaise or a creamy plant-based yogurt. It will provide a similar creamy texture to the soup.
Can I Adjust The Sweetness Level Of The Soup?
Absolutely! The sweetness can be adjusted to your taste. Add a bit more agave nectar or honey if you prefer a sweeter soup. Conversely, reduce the amount or omit it entirely if you prefer less sweetness. Taste and adjust according to your preference.
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