My grown up version of tomato soup is made with canned San Marzano tomatoes, fresh basil, and a few aromatics. This soup is very grilled cheese friendly!
Full disclosure time – I’m not a fan of grilled cheese sandwiches at all. In fact, I think they’re gross. But, that does not deter me from eating a big bowl of tomato soup.
Both John.e and McKenna love grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup. I make it for them both often during the winter months. And, they both have no problem with canned tomato soup, so I go for it! It’s an easy dinner and I don’t have to spend much time preparing it.
Sometimes, I’ll go the extra mile and make homemade tomato soup much like this San Marzano Tomato Soup. I love that the tomatoes are cooked down, but still a little chunky. And then you get to experience all of that onion and garlic and basil flavour too. It’s delicious!
My Roasted Red Pepper and Tomato Soup is another grown up version that you might like as well!
What are San Marzano tomatoes?
I think it’s safe to say that everyone knows the look and taste of a roma tomato, right? You know, those elongated tomatoes that have more flesh and less pulp?
Compared to the roma tomato, San Marzano tomatoes are thinner and more pointed. The flesh is much thicker with fewer seeds, and the taste is stronger, sweeter and less acidic.
The San Marzano vines have a longer season than other tomato varieties, making them particularly suitable for warmer climates. San Marzano tomatoes are said to have originated in the small town of San Marzano sul Sarno, near Naples, Italy. They were first grown in volcanic soil in the shadow of Mount Vesuvius.
Did you know that most San Marzano tomatoes sold commercially are grown in Italy, though they are produced commercially in smaller quantities in other countries. Because of San Marzano’s premium pricing, there is an ongoing battle against fraudulent product. In 2010, the Italian carabinieri confiscated 1,470 tons of canned tomatoes worth €1.2 million of improperly labeled product!
Other canned tomato options:
I do favour San Marzano tomatoes. But, if you’re looking to save some money, then you might want to consider regular canned tomatoes. Will they work? For sure! I would recommend that you buy whole canned tomatoes. Don’t be tempted to buy diced tomatoes.
Canned tomatoes can be found anywhere and they come so many shapes, sizes, and textures. Here are my steadfast rules to buying canned tomatoes. I apologize if you’ve read this on my blog before, but it’s worth repeating.
First, if you need tomato sauce or crushed tomatoes, buy them in a glass jar. You can see what you’re buying. The colour should be bright and vivid; the sauce/tomatoes should look fresh and cohesive. If there are seeds or pieces of tomato skin, move on to another brand.
Second, if you need chopped or diced tomatoes, always buy whole tomatoes. When produce companies can the tomatoes, the best tomatoes are packed in the cans marked “whole.” The blemished, not-so perfect tomatoes, are crushed, chopped, or pureed and sold as such.
I would rather buy canned whole tomatoes (they’re always the same price!) and spend the extra two minutes chopping them myself so that I know I’m getting really good and really ripe tomatoes.
I know I may have talked about tomatoes a little too much – maybe to the point where I might have come across as being a tomato snob. The fact of the matter is that if you want a really good tomato soup, you want to use the best canned tomatoes you can find.
This is soup certainly has all of the qualities we all know and love in a creamy tomato soup, but without the cream. If you want cream, add a splash or two. You can even use your handheld immersion blender to make it creamy. It’s up to you!
When all is said and done, it’s the taste that matters. You want a soup that is well balanced in terms of sweetness and acidity. You want good aromatics and earthy flavours; you’ll get that from the garlic, the onions, and the bay leaves. And you want bright freshness, which will be provided by the basil!
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San Marzano Tomato Soup
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 cup finely diced onion
- 3 cloves garlic, finely minced
- 2 cans tomatoes (see notes)
- 1/2 cup finely chopped sun dried tomatoes packed in oil, drained
- 1/4 cup tomato paste
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 2 whole bay leaves
- 2 teaspoons dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil leaves, plus more for garnish
- parmesan cheese, for garnish (optional)
- In a large soup pot, over medium heat, add the olive oil and onions. Saute the onions until just cooked through – about 4-5 minutes.
- Add the garlic and stir into the onions. Saute for 2-3 minutes.
- Next, add the canned tomatoes, sun dried tomatoes, tomato paste, balsamic vinegar, bay leaves, oregano, salt, and black pepper. Stir to combine. Place a lid on the pot, lower the heat to simmer and allow the soup to simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Once the soup is cooked, taste for seasoning. Lastly, turn off the heat and add the chopped fresh basil and stir into the soup. Let the soup sit for 3-5 minutes before serving.
- Garnish with fresh basil and parmesan cheese.