An overhead shot of a bowl of pantry tomato soup with a hunk of bread and shavings of parmesan.

Somehow winter passed, and I didn’t make a single pot of tomato soup. Somehow spring arrived, and six inches of snow still covers my lawn. I’m craving rhubarb (cooking with it, too), but living on beans and bread; still making soup all the time.

Here’s the latest: creamy tomato soup from a 2012 Bon Appetit. The recipe is incredibly simple, calling for nearly all pantry items: onions, garlic, tomato paste, and canned peeled tomatoes.

Do add thyme to your shopping list, however, and heavy cream, which could be omitted, but I think it adds a necessary touch of richness—the soup is made with water (as opposed to stock), and a little cream goes a long way here balancing the acidity and sweetness of the tomatoes.

I like to serve the soup with lots of freshly cracked pepper and shaved parmesan and bread, of course.

How to Make Tomato Soup, Step by Step

Sauté onions, garlic, and thyme in a few tablespoons of butter or olive oil until soft:

A large pot filled with onions, garlic, salt, pepper, and thyme.

Add 2 tablespoons of tomato paste:

A large pot filled with sautéed onions, garlic, and thyme with the addition of tomato paste.

Cook until caramelized, about 5 minutes:

An overhead shot of a pot of cooked onions and tomato paste, a can of plum tomatoes, and a quart of water.

Add 4 cups water and a 28-oz can of whole peeled tomatoes:

A large pot filled with cooked onions, garlic, tomato paste and a can of plum tomatoes.

Simmer for about 45 minutes:

A large pot of cooked pantry tomato soup with a spoon in it.

Discard the thyme sprigs, and purée until smooth. Add cream and lots of pepper:

A large pot of puréed pantry tomato soup.

Serve with bread, toasty or not, and shaved parmesan, if you wish:

An overhead shot of a bowl of tomato soup with a spoon in it, shaved parmesan, and freshly cracked pepper.
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An overhead shot of a bowl of pantry tomato soup.

Super Easy Pantry Tomato Soup

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Adapted from this Creamy Tomato Soup recipe in Bon Appetit 

I’ve been making a half recipe (reflected in the ingredients below), which never lasts the day, so feel free to double it.


  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • a few sprigs thyme
  • 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 28-oz. can whole peeled tomatoes
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon sugar, optional
  • ¼ cup (or more) heavy cream
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Shaved Parmigiano Reggiano for serving
  • Fresh bread for serving


  1. Melt butter in a large heavy pot over medium heat. Add thyme, onion, and garlic. Season with salt. Cook until onion is completely soft and translucent, 10–12 minutes. Increase heat to medium-high; add tomato paste. Continue cooking, stirring often, until paste has begun to caramelize in spots, 5–6 minutes—it will begin to stick to the bottom of the pan.
  2. Add tomatoes with juices and 4 cups water to pot. Increase heat to high; bring to a simmer. As the plum tomatoes rise to the surface while the soup simmers, use scissors to cut them up. (You’ll purée it later, but cutting them up helps them cook down better.) Reduce heat to medium. Simmer until flavors meld and soup reduces to about 1 quart, 45 minutes or so. Remove soup from heat; discard thyme sprigs. Working in small batches, purée soup in a blender until smooth or purée with an immersion blender.
  3. Stir in ¼ cup cream. Taste and adjust as needed. I usually add 1/2 teaspoon sugar and 1.5 teaspoons kosher salt, but I like salt, so season to taste or start with 1 teaspoon salt and add more to taste. I like lots of fresh cracked pepper, too. Simmer soup until flavors meld, 5  to 10 minutes longer. Taste again, and add more cream, if desired.
  4. Ladle soup into bowls and shave Parmigiano Reggiano over top. Serve with more pepper on the side and bread.
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 1 hour
  • Category: Soup
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: American, Italian