My Grandmother's Tomato Bisque

By • August 23, 2009 17 Comments

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Author Notes: This is how my grandmother always made tomato soup. It's extremely simple, and relies entirely on extremely red, ripe tomatoes - I only make it if I happen to see tomatoes that look particularly ripe and fresh for sale, not the other way around. It's also very important to use a heavy cast iron pan that is well seasoned, and to get the butter as hot as you can without burning it.The Weary Epicurean

Food52 Review: This recipe is half about seeking out the best ingredients possible, and half about an unexpected technique. There are only three ingredients on the list (not counting salt and pepper), which means everything needs to be just right: juicy, red tomatoes and good-quality butter and cream. The Weary Epicurean has a way with words, guiding you colorfully through the unusual method of sautéing blanched, seeded tomatoes with butter in a cast iron pan before madly stirring in the cream. The resulting mixture is rich, chunky and rustic -- a homemade cream of tomato soup that along with some thick toast and a green salad would make a perfect meal for a cool, late summer evening. - A&MThe Editors

Serves 2

  • 3 or 4 medium tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 5 or 6 tablespoons cream
  1. Briefly blanche the tomatoes, but do not remove the skin. Cut them in half, scoop out the seeds and slice their backs two or three times each with a sharp knife. Season the halves on each side with salt and pepper.
  2. Get the butter sizzling in a cast iron pot, but do not let it brown. Add the tomatoes flesh side down. They are ready to flip when they have sweated a lot of juice, but do not let them burn. It should take about 10 minutes if the heat is correct (medium/low setting).
  3. Flip the tomatoes on their backs and turn the heat up slightly. Continue cooking about five minutes.
  4. Take the pan off the heat, and wait a few seconds for it to cool slightly. Add the cream, and stir like shit with a wooden spoon. You don't want the cream to boil but you want it to come close. After you've gotten everything tasty off the bottom of the pan, you are done - adjust the seasoning, then pour into two bowls.
  5. You may garnish the soup with some thin strips of basil, or not. Definitely leave it chunky - the mealy texture is important. It is good with crusty italian bread or with poilane bread.

Tags: fresh, simple, tomatoes

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Comments (17) Questions (1)

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6 months ago ortolan

This looks perfect as far as tomato soups go! Now if I could only get my hands on some worthy tomatoes in the midst of winter...

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6 months ago The Weary Epicurean

Hah - yes I tend to make it when I see the tomatoes rather than the other way around.

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7 months ago Robbie Sparks Musson

This is divine! I love that the skins are left in the soup. Nice texture. All hail Grandma!

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7 months ago The Weary Epicurean

haha - thank you! yes I like the texture better that way.

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9 months ago Dan deRegnier

You had me a "stir like shit" I will give this a try tonight...I have a table full of ripe tomatoes!

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11 months ago vivzan

Good lord, is this soup good! I make this throughout tomato season. Can't believe I never commented to let you know how cherished this soup is!

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7 months ago The Weary Epicurean

thank you!

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about 2 years ago tedd

I use this as a sauce over pasta and it is amazing

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about 2 years ago Joy Cazel-Gary

Just made the bisque. GREAT recipe! Super easy to make & ever so delicious. Thank your grandma for me.

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over 2 years ago Chana Orit

I would definitely remove the skin as the tomatoes cook down. Is there a reason why you recommend against that?

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about 3 years ago MarieWestmoreland

Fantastic....so simple yet so delicious.

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over 3 years ago grazynahuk

that looks so yummy and we are having this for dinner tonight.
btw: does the #4 need some editing? .....

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over 3 years ago Heidrun

I have made this recipe more than any other on this site now. It's my go-to when I want to cook something for someone. Whether they're in a bad mood or sick or I just want to cook, this is always the first thing I think of. Thank you for this comforting and delicious recipe.

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over 4 years ago Heidrun

How long do you suggest blanching the tomatoes for?

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almost 4 years ago The Weary Epicurean

I count "1 elephant, 2 elephant, 3 elephant . . . 8 elephants" then pull them out. You can blanche a lot of things by the way, like peaches, pears, almonds . . .

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almost 6 years ago Veronica

This is so good I've made it 3 times in the last 10 days! Thank you!

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almost 4 years ago The Weary Epicurean

Thank you, I am touched to hear it!