Cream of Tomato - Basil Soup

Total Time1 hr 15 mins
Course: Soups, Vegetarian
Keyword: Freezes Well
Servings: 8 servings
Author: Catherine Christiano



  • 4 pounds tomatoes 10-12 medium ripe field tomatoes
  • OR
  • 48 ounce canned unsalted crushed tomatoes
  • 3 tablespoons chopped onion
  • 3/4 teaspoon celery seed
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 cup basil leaves packed, about 2 ounces

Béchamel Sauce

  • 3/8 cup unsalted butter
  • 3/8 cup flour
  • 2 1/4 cups whole milk preheated
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


  • whole basil leaves



  • If using fresh tomatoes, boil water in a 6 quart stock pot. Par boil tomatoes until skin splits, about 5 minutes. Remove tomatoes as they are done to large bowl. When cool enough to handle, core, peel, and roughly chop.
  • Using a 6 quart stock pot, add tomatoes, onion, celery seed, bay leaf and basil. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to simmer uncovered for fifteen minutes or until tomatoes are very soft; stir occasionally.
  • While the tomatoes are cooking, prepare Béchamel (white sauce).
  • When tomatoes are soft, puree using an immersion blender or in batches using a blender until very smooth. If there are a lot of seeds, remove using a food mill or sieve. There should be about six cups. If planning to freeze, freeze only prepared pureed tomato mixture and prepare white sauce later, after defrosting.

Béchamel Sauce

  • In 3 quart saucepan make a white roux by melting butter, adding flour and whisking until blended. Do not allow to brown. Gradually add hot milk to butter-flour mixture, stirring vigorously with whisk until sauce is thick and smooth. Set aside off heat.

Finishing Soup

  • While whisking, add Béchamel sauce to pureed tomato mixture. If a less creamy soup is preferred, add less than the full amount of Béchamel sauce. If mixture curdles, whisk vigorously or try using immersion blender to eliminate lumps.
  • Season with salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with a basil leaf and serve hot.


Don't use supermarket tomatoes. If field tomatoes are unavailable, used canned tomatoes. If using canned tomatoes, prep time is reduced to 1 hour. Substituting lower fat milk for the whole milk will make the soup more prone to curdling. If planning to freeze, prepare the Béchamel sauce later when serving.
Good sides include slices of French bread brushed with garlic and olive oil and toasted, focaccia, pizza bianca, or cheese sandwiches.