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Creamy Tomato Soup with Basil Coulis

Scott Phillips

Yield: Yields about 6-1/2 cups.

Servings: six.



For the basil coulis:

  • 1 cup packed fresh basil leaves
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed and peeled; more to taste
  • Sea salt or kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup fruity extra-virgin olive oil, plus 2 Tbs. more if needed

For the soup:

  • 3 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 1 stalk celery, finely chopped
  • One-half red bell pepper, finely chopped
  • 3 cups lower-salt chicken broth
  • 28-oz. can whole peeled plum tomatoes, drained and coarsely chopped (reserve the juice)
  • 1 large sprig fresh thyme
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

Nutritional Information

  • Calories (kcal) : 250
  • Fat Calories (kcal): 190
  • Fat (g): 21
  • Saturated Fat (g): 3
  • Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 2.5
  • Monounsaturated Fat (g): 15
  • Cholesterol (mg): 0
  • Sodium (mg): 460
  • Carbohydrates (g): 13
  • Fiber (g): 3
  • Protein (g): 4


Make the coulis:

  • Have ready a medium bowl of ice water. In a small saucepan, bring 1 quart of water to a boil. Add the basil and blanch for 30 seconds. Remove from the water with a strainer or slotted spoon and plunge into the ice water.

    Once it’s cool, squeeze the basil with your hands to remove excess water. Put the basil in a blender or food processor and add the crushed garlic and a pinch of salt. With the machine running, slowly add 1/4 cup of the oil. If the mixture clings to the side of the container, add the remaining 2 Tbs. oil. Purée until smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.

    Transfer the coulis to a squeeze bottle or a jar.

Make the soup:

  • In a nonreactive 5- to 6-quart Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium-low heat. Add the onion, celery, and red pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are quite soft, about 10 minutes. Add the broth, tomatoes, thyme, 1/4 tsp. each salt and pepper, and 1 cup water. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for 40 minutes.

    Discard the thyme sprig. Let cool briefly and then purée the soup in two or three batches in a blender or food processor. Rinse the pot and return the soup to the pot. If it is too thick, add some of the reserved tomato juice.

  • Reheat if necessary and season to taste with salt and pepper.

    Top each serving with a little coulis.

Make Ahead Tips

The coulis can be made 2 or 3 days ahead and stored in the refrigerator. Allow the coulis to come to room temperature before using. This soup stores beautifully and tastes better the second day. You can keep it in the refrigerator as long as you bring it to a boil every two days. Or you can stash it in the freezer for up to three months.


Be sure to purée in small batches and crack the blender lid slightly (or remove the center cap from the lid). Steam can build up once you start blending, and if the lid is on tight or the blender is overfilled, it will spray hot soup all over you and your kitchen. For protection, cover the top with a dishtowel while puréeing.


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Reviews (4 reviews)

  • Ruthe | 06/16/2015

    Awesome ! Highly recommended, although we enjoy everything fresh instead of can tomatoes, got some pounds of organic fresh tomatoes from Trader Joes. We homeschool our daughter and was part of her final class for Family Consumer Science, to prepare all fresh ingredients for a five course dinner. So all thirteen guests highly graded this tomatoe soup was an outstanding beginning with the touch of Basil Coulis was soooooo delicious,!,,,, thank you for this recipe I did it like 4 times and mix it with chili beans and ground turkey is very very good !!!!!!

  • jng000 | 02/03/2014

    Very easy to make, full of flavor, with a nice rich mouth feel. I make it with San Marzano tomatoes. I've enjoyed this recipe "as is" or with additions of some red pepper flakes, grated cheddar and shrimp. It purees beautifully in a Vitamix!

  • 2Chows | 07/23/2009

    This soup is pretty good, and I like the color that the red bell pepper added. It was a little too acidic when made with the Muir Glen tomatoes, but I liked it much better the second time when I used Dei Fratelli tomatoes (less salt and more sugar). I found it needed only 1/8 tsp salt. The juice trapped in the tomatoes was sufficient and it did not need the 1 cup of water. A stick (immersion) blender really makes it a lot easier to puree without getting burned. This was tasty with grilled colby sandwiches.

  • secondbreakfast | 08/13/2008

    Soup was excellent either hot or cold. It was very easy to make and freezes really well. It is definitely even tastier the next day. The basil coulis is a must it really adds a lovely flavour. I have served this soup at a luncheon and a dinner party. I was asked for recipe each time

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