Easy Tomato Soup

My friend Frank Newbold told me he’d been served tomato soup with grilled cheese croutons on top and I thought, “OMG what a great idea!” This tomato soup is spiced with saffron, which has enough flavor to stand up to the Gruyère in the croutons. Nursery food updated—how bad could that be?–Ina Garten

LC Easy Peasy Soup Note

Ina Garten dubs this recipe “Easy Tomato Soup” and it’s no lie. It comes together from scratch with barely more effort than heating up some Campbell’s—and we don’t think we need to tell you it’s worth that teensy extra investment of work.

Tomato Soup Recipe

  • Quick Glance
  • 10 M
  • 45 M
  • Serves 4 to 6

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 cups (2 onions) chopped yellow onions
  • 1 tablespoon (3 cloves) minced garlic
  • 4 cups homemade chicken stock or canned chicken broth
  • One 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes, preferably San Marzano
  • Large pinch saffron threads
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt, or to taste
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup orzo, uncooked (optional)
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • Grilled Cheese Croutons

Directions

  • 1. In a large pot or Dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions and cook over medium-low heat for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until golden brown. Add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute. Stir in the chicken stock, tomatoes and their juices, saffron, 1 tablespoon salt, and pepper. Bring the soup to a boil, then lower the heat and gently simmer for 15 minutes.
  • 2. If using the orzo, fill a medium pot with water, add 2 teaspoons salt, and bring to a boil. Add the orzo and cook for 7 minutes, until almost but not quite completely al dente. Drain the orzo and add it to the soup.
  • 3. Stir the cream into the soup, return it to a gentle simmer, and cook for 10 more minutes, stirring frequently. (You can refrigerate the soup and gently reheat it before serving.)
  • 4. Serve the soup hot with the grilled cheese croutons scattered on top.
Hungry for more? Chow down on these:

Testers Choice

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Susan Bingaman

Jan 02, 2011

In my family, this is always how we serve our grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup. There’s really nothing better than a bite-sized piece of perfectly grilled sandwich soaked through with tomato soup. I’ve never made my own soup, but that’s all changed now. The flavor of the soup is fantastic. It’s rich, tomatoey, and a little bit sweet from those lovely golden brown onions. I knocked the tablespoon of salt down to 2 teaspoons since I’m a bit sensitive to sodium. I wasn’t thrilled with the texture though. Since the sandwich soaks up quite a bit of the liquid part of the soup, the solid parts in the soup are kind of left behind in an oniony/orzo-y slurry. Maybe a buzz from an immersion blender would do the soup some good for the chunky texture-averse, like my husband. Oh, one more thing: I don’t have a panini grill. I made the sandwiches on my ancient griddle and they were just fine.

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Eydie Desser

Jan 02, 2011

As my husband’s 107-year-old grandma would say, “This is deeeelicious!” I was concerned that the soup was going to be too thin, but after adding the orzo, the soup becomes so luscious, thick, and satisfyingly wonderful. The Gruyère croutons were a huge hit and worked beautifully with the soup.

If you use homemade chicken stock, your salt level should be fine, but if you use store-bought, be judicious about adding the amount of salt suggested in the recipe. The soup still tastes great the next day, and I’m sure the day after that.
Make it and enjoy!

Testers Choice
M.K. Morgan

Jan 02, 2011

MmMm good—that’s what this soup is. The croutons put it over the top! I like the extra info about the quantity of chopped onions and minced garlic, as my onions and garlic were obviously a different size from the ones they used. I used 2 teaspoons of salt in the soup and the extra 2 teaspoons as directed in the cooking water for the orzo. I also smoothed out the soup with an immersion blender before adding in the orzo. I used only 1/2 of the Gruyère, which was more than enough, and my sandwiches were nicely browned in 1 1/2 minutes. Maybe my panini grill runs hot? This is a keeper. Not sure how much difference the saffron made, but I had some so I used it.

Testers Choice
Caroline Chang

Jan 02, 2011

Light-years better than anything you’ll find in a can. This soup recipe yields a hearty, rich, and chunky dish. When I make this again I’ll probably use less cream: a 1/2 cup of cream didn’t seem like that much to begin with, but went a long, long way in the finished product. I didn’t have a panini press so I made the grilled cheese croutons the old-fashioned way. They still tasted delicious, although some fell apart in the soup (I didn’t mind).

Testers Choice
Trudy Ngo-Brown

Jan 02, 2011

This recipe definitely lived up to its name for being easy. I didn’t use the full tablespoon of salt because I had to use canned chicken stock. Because I was using low-sodium stock, I did put in 2 teaspoons, but it was definitely too much. Next time, I may cut back to a teaspoon or leave it out entirely until the end. Otherwise, everything was great about the soup. Cutting up the grilled cheese sandwiches into “croutons” was so smart—why dirty up the hands with butter from the sandwich? :) I’m going to try fire-roasted tomatoes next time for a different flavor!

Testers Choice
Linda M.

Jan 02, 2011

This tomato soup is delicious and easy! I followed the recipe exactly except for only adding 1 tablespoon of the kosher salt to the soup. The soup turned out creamy with a nice tomato flavor and I loved the addition of the orzo. After adding the orzo I realized that I could’ve used my handheld blender to reduce the amount of tomato pieces that some members of my family may’ve shied away from. The grilled cheese croutons were a big hit too. They were delicious in the soup and added a nice buttery crunch. Delicious weeknight meal on a chilly night!

Testers Choice
Anna Scott

Jan 02, 2011

What a fabulous idea this is! We all know that grilled cheese and tomato soup are a cherished pair, and this soup recipe brings them together in a clever (and most delicious) way. The grilled cheese on white bread, slathered with butter and Gruyère cheese, was outstanding. I don’t have a panini maker, but I just used a skillet and another smaller skillet on top of the sandwich to sort of smoosh it down—worked just fine! As for the rich, soul-warming soup, I love the addition of saffron here. That really gives a depth of flavor that’s quite unique. I only used 2 teaspoons of kosher salt and it was plenty salty, especially when you had a crouton on your spoon as well. I’d leave out the orzo. It didn’t taste bad, but with the croutons on top I thought that extra starch wasn’t needed. Also, I’d maybe purée the onions into the soup to make it have a smooth consistency like traditional tomato soup. Lastly, a sprinkle of parsley or chives on top of the soup looks great, just for a bit of color.

Testers Choice
Jackie G.

Jan 02, 2011

In a very short amount of time, with not much effort at all, you end up with a very nice pot of soup from this recipe. And then there are those croutons. Would genius be too strong a word for creating croutons out of a grilled cheese sandwich? Definitely a bowl (or two) of comfort food, to not only satisfy your hunger, but to make you feel better. Cooking the onions as directed—over medium-low heat for 15 minutes—didn’t yield golden brown onions. I raised the heat to medium and continued to cook the onions for an additional 15 minutes in order to get the golden onions desired for the recipe. I tend to really like soups that are more or less purées, to have the flavor of the vegetables really shine. I want the vegetable showcased to have an intense flavor profile. Because of this, I usually cut back on the amount of broth that I add to a soup. I added the 4 cups of chicken stock called for in the recipe to test it as written. The soup was delicious; however, the next time I make it, I’ll start by adding 2 cups of stock and then see how it tastes before adding any more. That’s what I do with another tomato soup recipe by the same author. The saffron adds an interesting flavor to the soup, although I’m not sure if I’ll add it again. Personally, I don’t think that the soup needs the orzo, but my husband really liked the texture that it added to the soup. Bottom line: no major adjustments, very good results, well worth making.

Testers Choice
Sofia Reino

Jan 02, 2011

A very, very simple recipe to follow that’s filled with taste. Absolutely amazing, and the idea of the grilled cheese croutons is indeed brilliant. I think next time I’ll actually make even more of these croutons, as my toddler ate almost half of them prior to having the soup! Cannot say enough about this soup. The taste of tomato was fabulous—it felt creamy yet it was nice to feel the bits of tomatoes. I added the full tablespoon of salt and that was absolutely perfect. Would certainly not add any less.

Testers Choice
Rachel Feferman

Jan 02, 2011

While the concept of this recipe sounded pretty amazing (ummm…grilled cheese croutons?), I was also pretty skeptical. Would I really be able to taste the saffron? Isn’t a smooth tomato soup way better than chunky? Turns out, it was delicious. The saffron came through loud and clear and the texture of the well-seasoned orzo and the caramelized onions was fantastic. It was easy and delicious, especially with the decadent little croutons. Like grown-up snow day grub! I think a teaspoon of brown sugar added with the tomatoes would go a long way. It could use that subtle hint of sweetness. And I like more black pepper than the recipe called for. I ended up using 1 1/2 teaspoons. As always, you need to be really careful with the saffron. I’m not sure a “large” pinch was necessary. I wish I had actually measured the amount I used, because I’d recommend a smidgen less. Toward the end of cooking the onions, just an occasional stir doesn’t cut it.

Testers Choice
Joan Osborne

Jan 02, 2011

I was delighted to see this as a test recipe since I had already made this one once and my daughter has made it several times. I first learned about putting grilled cheese croutons in tomato soup from a Cat Cora recipe and thought the idea was genius since I love dipping my grilled cheese into tomato soup. I love the addition of orzo in this version and the saffron brings it to a new level; but I must confess it’s really good without the saffron, as I’ve made it that way too. The grilled Swiss cheese croutons complement the soup to a T. I’ll definitely be making it again. I did use the tablespoon of salt the first time I made it and it wasn’t overly salty but it’s also good with a little less. Most recipes suggest salting to taste anyway and that makes sense, so use your own judgment as to how much salt you like, as if it’s not enough you can always add more.

Testers Choice
Tracey G.

Jan 02, 2011

While I wouldn’t call this the easiest tomato soup I’ve ever made, it certainly was flavorful. You can taste a hint of saffron, but I don’t think it’s worth going to the store for it if you don’t already have it in your pantry. The next time I make this, I think I’ll purée the soup before adding the pasta. The grilled cheese croutons were certainly a highlight of the dish.

Testers Choice
Sita Krishnaswamy

Jan 02, 2011

The soup was easy to do. I didn’t add the 1 tablespoon of salt; instead, a teaspoon and a half worked for me. I quite liked the flavor and the texture. The croutons turned out alright, but I prefer plain croutons and prefer to grate the cheese over the soup. Definitely will add this to my repertoire of soups.

Testers Choice
Karen Depp

Jan 02, 2011

This soup is delicious, easy to make, and pretty handsome in the bowl. The grilled cheese croutons just make it even more delicious. I followed the recipe to the letter, using the 1 tablespoon of salt in the soup and the 2 teaspoons in the water for the orzo. I had just heard right before I made the soup that canned San Marzano tomatoes are really sweet and need more than the regular amount of salt that you’d use in a recipe. I used 3 measured cups of onion and 1 tablespoon of minced garlic. It was fun to make and even more fun to eat!

Comments
Comments
  1. Katry Ann Beaudoin says:

    This soup looks amazing. I’ve got to try it tomorrow. The perfect weekday supper in Montreal’s cold winter! Thank you so much for this share. My daughter and hubby will surely apreciate also ;)

  2. Lauralee Hensley says:

    I grew up always eating a grilled cheese sandwich when we had tomato soup, but I think I like your grown up grilled-cheese crouton idea better, because my sandwich always ended up being thoroughly dunked in my tomato soup anyways.

    • Renee Schettler Rossi says:

      The crouton approach is just slightly daintier, don’t you agree, Lauralee? Try adding just a few at a time to stave off sogginess….

  3. Foodiewife says:

    I made this soup, and it was the first Ina recipe that disappointed me. There was far too much onion, and nobody liked the texture of it. I used San Marzano crushed tomatoes, and I found the soup to be far too acidic. Some sugar toned it down a lot. This time, Ina, my own recipe (that I made a few days later) was much better. I used canned tomatoes, less onion and Parmesan cheese at the very end. That one was a better version. Sorry.

  4. Stuart Borken says:

    Would you think that replacing lactose free whole milk plus a large nob of butter for the heavy cream would be a nice alternative for us lactose adverse? The small amount of milk solids in good European butters is not a digestion problem.

    • Renee Schettler Rossi says:

      Stuart, I like the way you’re thinking. I’d suggest you first add the butter and take a sip of the soup to see if it’s sufficiently rich. You may find that you like it just fine without any dairy. You can always try adding a little l-f whole milk if desired. I just worry milk may be a touch wan in comparison to cream in terms of the consistency, but then, I grew up with real cream in my coffee, and anything but cream, whether in coffee or soup, just sorta, you know, isn’t quite the same. Personally? I’ve been waiting for l-f heavy cream…and waiting…anyways, let us know how it goes!

      • Stu Borken says:

        I have been in touch with the Lactaid people and they have experimented with cream and sour cream on the East coast…not a profitable undertaking. They have expanded to ice cream, cottage cheese, chocolate milk, and egg nog at Christmas. You can’t sneeze at those expansions in the marketplace of L-F products. I like your idea of using only using butter and not whole milk with butter.

        • Renee Schettler Rossi says:

          Phenom reporting, Stu! Many, many thanks for sharing your research. Greatly appreciate it. Looking forward to hearing what you think of the soup.

  5. lizykat says:

    EXCELLENT…only word that comes to mind. No saffron nor orzo in my cupboard, so I used bowtie pasta which cooked up quickly while the soup simmered. Will try another time with saffron, and will also use less salt. I used low-sodium chicken stock and no-salt tomatoes, so added the full tablespoon of kosher salt…it was almost too salty. But that did not stop either my husband nor myself from having 2 bowls each! (I didn’t make the grilled cheese croutons, as we had some Parmesan cheese crackers to use up….) That combo was certainly a taste treat! Thanks for the recipe.

  6. Anne S says:

    I had thought that I would never get a good homemade tomato soup again because I can’t get a decent tomato up here in snow country and can’t grow one either! But I was wrong. This soup with the San Marzano canned tomatoes was excellent! We loved it!

    • Renee Schettler Rossi says:

      Anne S, lovely to hear, thank you! We’re tickled to learn that you like it so. Thank for letting us know….

  7. bianca says:

    This soup was great! One large onion produced 2C worth, so I stuck with that. Also, I was concerned to use a full tbsp of salt, so reduced to 2 tsp. Opted to not use orzo, and blended the whole lot with my stick blender. It’s on the rotation list.

  8. Margaret says:

    I used two cans of tomatoes (was initially planning to double the recipe) but when I added the first 4 cups of broth, it seemed like adding another 4 would be WAY too much liquid so I decided to leave it and it turned out to be a good choice. I gave the soup a buzz with the immersion blender to smooth out the texture, and skipped the orzo. The soup turned out thick and creamy and amazing. I’d probably cut down on the salt a little bit, since the grilled cheese adds some salty flavor. I love garlic, so I might add more next time, or perhaps crisp up some garlic in olive oil and toss that in the soup before serving.

    • David Leite says:

      Margaret, I love how you “freelanced” while you were making the soup and as a result turned it into your own. It sounds great. I love the addition of garlic. (I’m a garlic freak, in case you didn’t know.)

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