This quick & easy, creamy tomato soup is comfort food at it's best. Add some toasty sourdough grilled cheese sticks for dipping and you have the perfect cold-weather meal!
What's better than a nice warm bowl of soup on a crisp fall day? A nice warm bowl of soup with something gooey and cheesy to go with it! This easy tomato bisque is one of my favorites.
I love soup for lunch in the fall and winter! It warms me up on a cool, or cold day, and also fills me up. I'll often make a pot of soup on Sunday so I have it for quick meals during the week.
How to make tomato bisque
Since this recipe uses canned tomatoes, it's really as simple as combining all the ingredients and letting the soup simmer for about 30 minutes and then pureeing it.
Make the soup: The carrots, onions and garlic get sautéd first then the herbs, tomatoes and broth are added. This mixture simmers for 30 minutes.
Puree the soup: Everyone has a different opinion when it comes to the texture they prefer in soup. Personally, I prefer a soup that is more on the pureed side - especially when it comes to something like tomato soup. To make life easy, I prefer using an immersion blender to puree soup. It eliminates the possibility of a huge mess if you forget to cover up the opening when using a traditional blender. No one wants soup all over their kitchen! And yes, that HAS happened to me! After the soup finishes simmering you'll want to let it cool for a few minutes before you puree with the immersion blender.
Make the grilled cheese: When I'm making grilled cheese I love to mix different cheeses. Each type melts slightly differently and in this case, the cheddar and Gruyère blend together for a fantastic taste! Be sure to butter the bread all the way to the edges so they get nice and crisp, which makes the sticks easy to dip and extra crunchy on the edges. Toast the sandwiches in a pan over medium-low heat until the cheese is melted and the bread is crisp and golden brown.
- Canned tomatoes: Because it’s winter, I made this soup with only canned tomatoes. Use high-quality tomatoes for the best flavor. My preference is San Marzano tomatoes, which I can usually find at Whole Foods.
- Carrot, onion and garlic: This gives you the base for the soup, adding extra depth and flavor.
- Dried basil and thyme: Due to longer cooking times I use dried herbs in soups and stews. For a bit of extra flavor, you can sprinkle some freshly chopped thyme on the top before serving.
- Chicken or vegetable broth: I normally use chicken as that's what I keep in my pantry but if you want a vegetarian version vegetable broth works too.
- Sherry: Regular or cooking sherry is fine.
- Heavy cream: I don't recommend substituting regular milk. You could use half & half in a pinch or just leave it out. The soup will just be a bit less creamy in texture.
- Sourdough bread: I like the way sourdough gets nice crusty when toasted. You can substitute french bread or ciabatta
- Cheddar cheese: I use sharp cheddar, sliced from a block. Mild cheddar works too but the gruyere taste will be stronger.
- Gruyere cheese: Adds an extra nuttiness to the grilled cheese sticks
Meal Prep Tips
One nice thing about soup is you can pretty much always make it ahead of time. You can make a big pot of this during your weekly meal prep and store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 4-5 days.
The grilled cheese is best made right before eating otherwise you lose that gooey, melted cheese factor. If for some strange reason you end up with leftover grilled cheese (this only happens to me when I'm photographing and make large quantities!), I've had pretty good luck reheating it in a toaster oven (280°F for about 10 minutes).
Tomato Bisque Serving Suggestions
Since you basically have a meal with the soup and grilled cheese you can really leave it at that. If you want some extra veggies, I'd serve with a relatively simple salad, like this chopped kale salad, or maybe some roasted green beans.
If you're not in the mood for grilled cheese, a nice hunk of toasted crusty bread is also great for dipping in the soup.
More Soup Recipes
If you love this creamy tomato bisque, try one of these homemade soup recipes next:
- Creamy Butternut Squash Soup
- Slow Cooker Chicken Tortilla Soup
- Tuscan White Bean Soup with Sausage + Kale
- Quick and Creamy Black Bean Soup
tools you may want for this recipe
Immersion Blender (not an affiliate link) - This is a great kitchen tool if you make soup often. It allows you to skip the process of transferring hot soup to a blender and gets one less thing dirty. This particular model comes with a whisk attachment that's handy for making salad dressings.
Easy Tomato Bisque with Grilled Cheese Sticks
For the soup:
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- ⅓ cup diced carrot, about 1 medium carrot
- ⅔ cup diced onion
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 28 oz can whole tomatoes, undrained
- 8 oz chicken or vegetable broth
- ½ teaspoon cooking sherry
- 4 tablespoon heavy cream or half & half
For the grilled cheese:
- 1 ½ tablespoon Brummel & Brown or other soft butter
- 4 slices sourdough bread
- 2 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, thinly sliced
- ¼ cup shredded Gruyère
To make the soup:
- Heat oil over medium-high heat in a medium dutch oven or saucepan. Add carrot and sauté for 1 minute; add onion and sauté for an additional minute. Add garlic, basil and thyme; cook for 30 seconds until fragrant.
- Add tomatoes, with juice from the can, and broth. Stir and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool slightly.
- Using an immersion blender, puree the soup until fairly smooth. Stir in sherry and cream. Keep warm until ready to serve.
To make the grilled cheese:
- Heat a medium non-stick pan over medium heat.
- Butter one side of each slice of bread. Place two slices in the pan, butter side down. Top with cheddar and Gruyère. Place an additional slice of bread on top, butter side facing up.
- Cook for 4 minutes per side, or until crisp and golden brown. Remove from pan and let cool for a minute or two.
- Using a serrated knife, slice each sandwich into sticks. Serve immediately with warm tomato bisque.
This post was originally published in November 2015. It was updated in January 2021 with some new information and photos. No changes were made to the original recipe.