Barbara Lynch's Spicy Tomato Soup

By • January 1, 2013 39 Comments

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Author Notes: This is a spicy tomato soup that you can make on a whim and eat nearly as soon. (It's also, at its core, 5 vegan ingredients you probably already have.) Recipe adapted very slightly from Stir: Mixing It Up in the Italian Tradition (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2009).Genius Recipes

Serves 6

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 small yellow onion, peeled, halved, and sliced into 1/4-inch-thick slices
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (or to taste -- we started with 1/2 teaspoon)
  • 2 (28-ounce) cans whole tomatoes
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1/4 cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Crème fraîche, for garnish (optional)
  1. Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat until shimmering. Add the onions and red pepper flakes and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are translucent and very tender, about 10 minutes.
  2. Stir in the tomatoes and their juices, plus the water, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the flavors have melded, about 30 minutes. (If you're in a hurry, you can skip the simmer time -- just add a bit less water.) Add the basil, season with salt and pepper, remove from the heat, and let cool briefly, about 5 minutes.
  3. Set a fine-mesh strainer over a large, heatproof bowl. Using a blender, purée the soup in batches until smooth, removing the small cap from the blender lid (the pour lid) and covering the space with a kitchen towel (this allows steam from the hot soup to escape and prevents the blender lid from popping off).
  4. Pour the blended soup through the strainer, pressing on the solids with a rubber spatula or ladle; discard the solids. Taste the soup and season with additional salt and pepper as needed.
  5. Return the soup to the saucepan and reheat on medium low until hot. If you choose, serve topped with a tablespoon of crème fraîche.

More Great Recipes: Vegetables|Soups|Soup|Basil|Tomatoes

Topics: Soups

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Comments (39) Questions (1)


6 months ago kxr173

I loved this. Have had the soup many a time at BL's restaurant, The Butcher Shop and this was just as delicious! I even strained it, despite having a Vitamix just to follow it exactly the first time around. Perfection. I will be making this again & again and will get lazy sometimes & skip that step :-) Loved it, didn't need a thing!


8 months ago Kaede Sullivan

Just made this with Muir Glen whole tomatoes also. It was pretty smooth after going through my Cuisinart food processor so I didn't strain. I like my soup having a bit of texture. This is delish. It will go nicely with a grilled cheese.


10 months ago sarabclever

I've made this and loved it. However, the last time I made it, I did so in my new Vitamix and it didn't taste very good at all. There's nothing to strain out with a vitamix, but I wouldn't have thought not doing so would make it so bland tasting. I wonder if I just was having an off day, or if it's the straining (or lack thereof) as it's the only thin I can think that I did differently. Have been meaning to try again but trying to do some troubleshooting first!


about 1 year ago Pam Shropshire

My favorite tomato soup has toasted cumin seeds and garlic. The cumin adds a nutty, smoky depth.


over 1 year ago nancyg

I make this with Muir Glenn's Fire Roasted tomatoes & chicken stock....deeeelicious.I DON'T strain, just use my "motor boat"blender in the pot.


over 1 year ago LittleKi

This is so ridiculously easy, it's almost embarrassing that this isn't already in our repertoire! I've made several tomato soups and this is the easiest and the best. I downsized it to use the last pint of my home-canned tomatoes. I didn't have basil, so I just left that out. The level of spice *is* a bit strong; I'd dial it back next time. Used my vitamix, didn't strain. Fantastic. I might put up an extra dozen pints or so next year just to have on hand for this.


over 1 year ago cmita18

This is one of my favorite soup recipes to avoid a sad desk lunch! I also use an immersion blender to cut down on prep, and I've also found that balancing my small strainer over top of my KitchenAid mixing bowl is the best way to strain, since it's deeper than your typical mixing bowl.


over 1 year ago MJ

I love this soup. I use my immersion blender, very quick, very easy!


over 1 year ago piccantedolce

I have Barbara Lynch's cookbook Stir and this is one of my go to recipes from it. I love it as is, but I made a version this weekend where I subbed 1/4 tsp of smoked Spanish paprika for the chili flake and added 2 cloves of garlic, sliced. It was delicious! Like the most perfect homemade version of Campbell's.


over 1 year ago Paulo carvalho

Great recipe, if you want instead of the creme fraiche just put eggs and let them boil.


over 1 year ago LeeLeeBee

This is a great recipe. We love spicy food, but 1/2 tsp of extra hot red pepper flakes were enough for us. I skip the blending and straining steps and just use an immersion blender - I prefer the slightly thicker texture to watery soup.


about 2 years ago JonQuirk

This is an absolutely perfect recipe. I made no adjustments whatsoever and it came out perfectly. If you want to top it off the way Barbara Lynch does, make some mini-toasts out of a baguette, glass them with a bit of evoo, salt, cheese if you like, and press some caraway seeds into it, and bake until crisp. The perfect accompaniment to this perfect soup. I will be making this for the rest of my life.


over 2 years ago MrsK

If I look for "soup spoon" I get the regular ones, not as "deep" as the one in the picture.


over 2 years ago Dee Kaufman

A lot of the modern soup spoons are not very deep. What to ask for is 'cream soup spoons.' The one in photo looks antique and perhaps silver or silver-plate. There are oval spoons more like table or serving spoons. Then there are small deep spoons, which are meant for bouillon, and called 'bouillon spoons.' I just gave eBay a quick look and sellers list things using as many names in the title as possible. But if you type in 'cream soup spoon' you should find some nice deep round cream soup spoons that you like.
Good luck.


over 2 years ago MrsK

Oh, my, this sounds marvelous! I have to ask you: what do you call the kind of spoon you have in the picture? See, English is not my mother tongue and I can't explain what kind of spoon I am looking for when I in a store...


over 2 years ago DeirdreMS

That lovely thing is a soup spoon.


over 2 years ago Tailgators

Yum. Kept it simple, blended in the Vitamix and didn't need to strain. Swirled some leftover gorgonzola cream sauce into each serving. Perfect.


over 1 year ago JohnL

Tailgators-Michael Symon has a recipe for "Spicy Tomato and Blue Cheese Soup" that you might like. Similar ingredients, but he includes Roth Kaase Buttermilk blue cheese, heavy cream, garlic and oregano. Its pretty quick, rich, and really good, too.


over 1 year ago JohnL

Hint: if you make his recipe, use 2 oz cheese, a packed 1/2 cup would be 4 oz (and too strong).


over 2 years ago Shauna Axton

This turned out great. Used the immersion blender as some others, and strained just a portion of it which made for a great consistency! Added oregano, chili pepper and a bit of garlic as some others. Definitely a win.


over 2 years ago Marian Bull

Made it in my Vitamix, and didn't strain -- just blended on high for 10-15 seconds, and I loved the consistency. I even resisted the urge to add garlic. It's seriously perfect.


over 2 years ago weshook

I didn't make this exact recipe, but I used it as inspiration to make my own tomato soup with oven roasted tomatoes. Yummy! Thanks.


over 2 years ago Jill Murray

Made this tonight. Skipped the straining step after I saw how thin it would be. Just pureed the whole batch and loved it! Maybe next time I will add something else like garlic, but was delicious without any modifications. Also might cut back on the red pepper flakes. 1/2 tsp was quite spicy for me.


over 2 years ago easknh

Made this last night for dinner in my house. Not a hit - comments came back that it smelled and tasted like a tomato sauce, not a good soup. I think I will be looking for a different recipe for next time.