J. Kenji López-Alt's 15-Minute Creamy (Vegan) Tomato Soup

January  1, 2019
30 Ratings
Photo by Ty Mecham
  • Prep time 5 minutes
  • Cook time 10 minutes
  • Serves 4 to 6
Author Notes

Of all the clever things J. Kenji López-Alt has done in his career—the Food Lab cookbook and column at Serious Eats, the years clocked at America’s Test Kitchen and on restaurant lines—this 15-minute soup is one of his favorites, and one he makes most often.
Adapted very slightly from Serious Eats. —Genius Recipes

What You'll Need
Watch This Recipe
J. Kenji López-Alt's 15-Minute Creamy (Vegan) Tomato Soup
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 2 cloves garlic, grated on a microplane grater
  • 1 small onion, finely sliced (about 1 cup)
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 2 slices white bread, crusts removed, torn into rough 1/2-inch pieces
  • 2 (28-ounce) cans whole peeled tomatoes packed in juice
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Minced chives, basil, or parsley as garnish
  • Bread or grilled cheese for serving
  1. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large saucepan over medium high heat until shimmering. Add the garlic, onions, oregano, and red pepper flakes. Cook, stirring frequently until onions are softened but not browned, about 4 minutes. Add the bread and tomatoes. Roughly mash the tomatoes with a potato masher or whisk (alternatively, you can break up the tomatoes with your hands before adding to the pot). Add 2 cups water. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce to a simmer. Cook for 5 minutes.
  2. Transfer half of soup to the jar of a blender. Blend soup, starting at low speed and gradually increasing to high (be careful starting up, it can shoot out the top of the blender—open the vent and hold a kitchen towel over the lid to prevent blowout). With blender running on high, gradually trickle in half of remaining olive oil. (Alternatively, you can do all of this in the pot with an immersion blender, though the soup might not be quite as smooth.) Season soup to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer to a large bowl and repeat with remaining half of soup and olive oil. Ladle into individual serving bowls, top with minced herbs, drizzle with more olive oil, and serve with bread or grilled cheese.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Hannah Mark
    Hannah Mark
  • jellyfishheart
  • JoyceB
  • lizaH
  • Esteban
Genius Recipes

Recipe by: Genius Recipes

37 Reviews

MacGuffin January 18, 2023
No venting necessary if using a Vitamix.
rjkrath November 4, 2021
Sadly this is one of the more boring soups I’ve ever made and I’m wondering what I did wrong. The soup was a black hole of flavor - I added dried basil, feta, more oregano, orzo, lots of black pepper, and finally korma sauce and only the korma made any difference in the taste.

Maybe it was the tomatoes? I don’t think I’ll be finding out.
Jul October 25, 2022
I'm borrowing your "black hole of flavor." Sometimes there are recipes like that. No matter what you add, it doesn't help.
Ruth January 31, 2021
This is a phenomenal recipe, one of my go-tos during cold weather. The olive oil is a real genius tip! A couple of things: It doesn't have to be white bread. I've been on a rye sourdough kick for the past few months and just use the end of the loaf before it goes stale. And no reason not to include the crusts. Since the soup is pureed, there's no real need to grate the garlic; slicing it will suffice and is less messy. I use an immersion blender and have also done it in the food processor.
nutcakes December 20, 2020
Wow so fresh! So easy! I just felt it was missing a little something something, so I added the smallest tot of syrupy balsalmic vinegar. Perfect.
nutcakes December 20, 2020
I just figured I added twice as much water! I was halving the recipe but forgot to halve the water. It still came out good but was likely the reason I added extra seasoning.
Hannah M. May 17, 2020
So good!! I'm allergic to alliums so used fennel instead and threw in three anchovies for more flavour. I also halved the batch and it made three decent sized portions
jellyfishheart April 13, 2020
I don't generally keep bread at home, so i put in a bit of rice flour instead, and it worked great. Added a dollop of goat cheese too!
jcasare February 4, 2020
I can't remember if I reviewed this already, so please excuse any repetition. My 13 y.o. asks for this soup CONSTANTLY. I can't keep enough of it in the house. I often add a teaspoon or two of Italian seasoning and today I used old dry bread I had on hand. I've also added plum tomatoes with basil or extra garlic. It's so forgiving and delicious.
JoyceB December 27, 2019
This is a terrific, super easy recipe that I make frequently because apart from white sandwich bread to pick up at the store it's a great pantry soup. Use the best tinned tomatoes you can find. I make the whole thing in the pressure cooker, ie., saute, dump, 5min High pressure/quick release then into the blender (though it's equally good using an immersion blender).
lizaH December 25, 2019
I use a mirepoix and if your not in a hurry, slow roast the tomatoes before putting them in the pot.
Tawnya D. October 16, 2021
in the saveur recipe you put everything in one pan?
Esteban April 2, 2019
fine conbination for a creamy soup, excellent!!
Lulu January 16, 2019
After immersion blending with California Olive Ranch oil, I discovered an unopened bottle of rosemary infused olive oil. Just one Tbsp added delicious flavor. I also added about a Tbsp of Espresso vinegar, thick and a little sweet. I feel it added a depth of flavor that was missing. I'm serving with grilled cheese and bacon tonight. When this is refrigerated, does the oil rise and solidify? If so, how to reblend?
Sarah R. January 14, 2019
what a beautiful soup! I used low sodium chicken broth instead of water but next time I think I will use veggie broth to keep it vegan. I also used homemade white sandwich bread. The texture of this soup is velvety and luxurious - you wouldn't know there isn't a drop of cream in it. I plan on freezing half of the batch.
susan C. January 6, 2019
Just made as described except substituted multi grain grain bread (no white bread at home) and it was delicious. Will make again but play with adding new flavor dimensions using stock instead of water or adding anchovies/fish sauce. Also recipe seems like an open book for introducing any herbs and spices like cumin, zatar, cardamom, allspice etc. Does this freeze well?
Kristen M. January 9, 2019
I'm sorry to say I haven't tried, but I'm curious, too! I imagine the flavor would be fine, and might just need a quick re-blend if it separates after thawing.
Katy February 7, 2020
It hasn’t frozen very well for me. I think it’s because the emulsion breaks down in the freezer. If you put it back in the blender once defrosted it gets back to 90% as good. I would love know if anyone has some other trick that doesn’t require taking out the blender!
Helen R. January 5, 2019
It looks interesting, and I am going to try this as soon as I can. ... I do want to point out that leaving the center portion of the blender cap off to allow steam escaping is fine, as is placing a towel over the top as well - however putting one's had on top increases the risk -maybe- of receiving a steam burn. Just laying the towel over the top should suffice.
[email protected] January 5, 2019
Instead of water, would low sodium chicken broth enhance the flavor even more?
Kristen M. January 5, 2019
Sure, great idea!
Anne January 5, 2019
I made this soup last night. It was delicious! I made a few changes- I used 2 cans crushed tomatoes instead of whole, I used minced garlic and crushed it with the back of a spoon since I didn't have any whole garlic cloves, and I used some random rolls I found deep in my freezer instead of white bread. I also used my trusty immersion blender. I can't wait to have another bowl today!
Jessica36 January 4, 2019
I made this soup tonight and it was fantastically creamy and flavorful. I used San Marzano tomatoes and added a shallot, but otherwise stuck to the recipe. Thank you for a wonderful recipe!
Jennifer K. January 3, 2019
Perhaps we needed better tomatoes, but I found this recipe to have a very tinny, bitter taste. Good in a pinch but I probably wouldn't make it on a regular basis or would have to tweak it.
SaraQ January 3, 2019
High quality canned tomatoes are critical.
Jennifer K. January 3, 2019
I think the recipe should specify or note that! It just says "2 (28-ounce) cans whole peeled tomatoes packed in juice". I still ate it but I was hoping I'd like it more.
Kristen M. January 4, 2019
Hi Jennifer, sorry to hear it—another place that an unpleasant flavor could come through is in the olive oil, if yours has a strong bitter flavor, since there is a good amount of it. California Olive Ranch is my favorite inexpensive, everyday olive oil that never tastes bitter like some other brands at the supermarket can.
Jennifer K. January 4, 2019
Thanks guys! It is such an easy and straightforward recipe that I do want to try again with better ingredients, if they aren't too costly.
Dana A. January 3, 2019
This was so good. I made it with gluten free white bread (from Canyon Bakehouse) and it came out great.
Kelly C. June 24, 2019
Thank you! I'm allergic to both dairy and gluten, and was hoping this would work. And I have Canyon Bakehouse bread too! Making this tonight!
Carol F. January 2, 2019
I am a big fan of emuslifying tomatoes with olive oil in the blender since I used that method to make gazpacho this summer and loved the creamy smooth texture. I have some rosemary rolls left over from the holidays and think that any fairly soft bread would work well in this recipe.