I grew up on tomato soup, Campbell’s Tomato Soup. I vividly remember sledding all day and warming up with a bowl of Campbell’s Tomato Soup, just like all the commercials Campbell’s has had over the years. That was exactly how I ate it. I also remember summer suppers where my mom was busy and would make my brother and me a grilled cheese sandwich, often with tomatoes and bacon, and served it with a bowl of Campbell’s. Nothing better.

And now, here we are in the midst of a worldwide pandemic and I long for that feeling. You know the one. When your mom would make you a grilled cheese and serve it with tomato soup and you felt loved, warmed and secure. Anyone else?

Chunky Tomato Soup with Basil or Dill

This tomato soup can use either fresh dill or fresh basil. Not both; choose one.

Twenty years ago, I owned a lunch cafe and one of my best selling soups was tomato-basil with cream. We offered it daily. I’m not sure if this soup was as popular all over the country as it was in Nashville, but here in Nashville, a similar soup was served at plenty of locally owned restaurants. I would have so many people ask me for the recipe, assuming that it was really hard to make. I happily gave the recipe away as it was so easy to make, and I wanted everyone to figure out that cooking did not need to be hard. Similarly, today, I want everyone reading this to see just how easy a DELICIOUS homemade soup can be. It’s only four ingredients plus salt and pepper.

  • This soup will only take you 30 minutes from start to finish, and 20 minutes of that is spent cooking when all you have to do is stir it every so often. Pretty good, right?
  • The secret to this soup is the type of tomato. You must use San Marzano style tomatoes. This is not optional. If you use a different type of tomato, your soup will not be nearly as good. Not nearly. I do not exaggerate on this point!
  • My favorite brands are by Rega Marca and by Simpson Brand (which actually looks like the brand is “San Marzano”). My next favorite is Cento, and this one is a bit easier to find and I buy from Kroger all the time. However, all are very hard to find right now as good cooks know these are the best and … hello to pandemic shopping. But, if you look for “San Marzano style” you will get the best of the canned tomatoes, even if it’s not the best of the “San Marzano”-style ones. For a ranking of canned tomatoes that I 100% agree with, see this list on HuffPost.
  • You want the whole, peeled, canned tomatoes, and you are going to crush them by hand. Yes, it feels funny. Yes, the soup is worth it!
  • As you crush the tomatoes by hand, wear an apron. The juice may squirt on you.
  • For this soup, I alternate fresh basil or fresh dill based on availability and desire. Both taste great. If you use dried basil or dill, you will not have nearly as good of a soup.

The Best Tomato Soup

Liza Graves
If you are watching your calories, the additional cup of heavy cream does add 800 calories, but as this is for 6 servings, each serving will have 208 calories, even with the cream!
3.84 from 6 votes
Prep Time 8 mins
Cook Time 22 mins
Total Time 30 mins
Course Main Course or Side
Cuisine American
Servings 6 servings


  • 3 28oz cans of San Marzano style tomatoes I find Cento brand the easiest to find, available at Kroger
  • 2 leeks, sliced to where the leeks become a medium green (About 1/2 the leek).
  • 1/2 cup of chopped dill OR 1/2 cup fresh chopped basil
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • water


  • Dump all three cans into a large stockpot. Then, crush tomatoes by hand into large, chunky pieces. Next, wash hands and then chop up the leeks. I like to slice them into thin pieces, which are naturally in the shape of circles. Then, I slice them in half. Add leeks to the hand-crushed tomatoes.
  • Turn burner on medium-high to heat tomatoes and leeks to a boil. Once at a boil, turn down to medium, for a slow boil, for 20 minutes.
  • Ten minutes into cooking, add basil or dill.
  • Once cooked. Add once cup of heavy cream.
  • *Then, if you have an immersion blender, use it for about 3-4 seconds on the soup. If you don't, add half the soup to a blender (or all of the soup if you don't want any large chunks) and pulse a few times.
  • Add pepper to taste. If salt is needed, add salt to taste.
  • *Any type of blending is purely optional. If you like a chucky soup, you may not want to blend. Also, additions to consider include roasted garlic and 1 tablespoon of honey. I prefer the soup without either, but I do sometimes make it with honey and sometimes with roasted garlic to change it up.
  • If you want the soup a little more runny, add 1/2 cup of water. As you warm it up the next day (of course it's better, like all soups, the next day!) you will definitely want to add water.
  • Serve with a grilled cheese sandwich or on its own.
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We recently published a recipe that all sorts of people wrote in to tell us how good it was. If you are looking for another sure-fire soup that will please many, try this one: Insanely Delicious Lentil & Sausage Soup recipe.

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