Creamless Creamy Tomato Soup: The creamiest of homemade tomato soups made without any milk or cream! What’s the secret??

creamless creamy tomato soup

Is it me or is it almost impossible to imagine eating a grilled cheese sandwich without a bowl of tomato soup?

It’s like eating a peanut butter and jelly (strawberry) sandwich on white bread without a glass of chocolate milk on the side.  The failure to complete the meal without the other half just doesn’t make sense to me.

And frankly, it makes me a little sad as well!  How many times have you said, “Man, a bowl of tomato soup would go so great with this grilled cheese”?

Welllll! This creamless creamy tomato soup solves your soup-less grilled cheese issue in about 20 minutes!

Sure, it takes a little longer to cook than popping open a can but you’ll be thrilled with the results.

What makes the soup thick and creamy without the addition of cream, or any milk product at all for that matter, is a few slices of bread.

Oh yes that’s right! Who would have ever thought a few slices of bread could be a substitute for heavy cream?!

You’ll drop the bread into the hot soup as it cooks away and then pureé the whole mixture until it is silky smooth. You know, just the way a great tomato soup should be!

Pair this soup with Ina’s ultimate grilled cheese or a bacon, brie and fig jam grilled cheese on a chilly fall day and you’ll be the star of your household!

Creamless Creamy Tomato Soup

  • Prep Time: 5min
  • Cook Time: about 20min
  • Yield: 4 servings


1 tbsp plus 1 ½ tsp extra virgin olive oil
½ medium onion, chopped medium (about 1/2 cup total
2 cloves of garlic, minced
Tiny pinch hot red pepper flakes
1 bay leaf
1 can (28-ounce) cans whole tomatoes
2 tsp brown sugar
2 slices homemade sandwich bread, or a hearty white store-bought variety like Pepperidge Farm, crusts removed and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
Kosher salt and ground black pepper
1 tsp fresh thyme (for topping, optional)
1 slice bacon, cooked crisp (for topping, optional)


  • 01

    Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a 3 quart Dutch oven or heavy-bottom pot oven over medium-high heat until shimmering.  Add in the onion, garlic, red pepper flakes, and bay leaf.  Cook until the onions are translucent, 3 to 5 minutes.

    Add in the tomatoes and the juice from the can and using potato masher, mash until no pieces bigger than 2 inches remain.  Be careful not to mash the whole tomatoes too hard at first or their juices will shoot out all over you and your kitchen.  Stir in the sugar and bread pieces then bring soup to boil.

    Reduce the heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally, until bread is completely saturated and starts to break down, about 3 to 5 minutes. Remove and discard bay leaf.


  • 02

    Transfer the soup to a blender.  Add in the remaining oil and process until soup is smooth and creamy, 2 to 3 minutes.  Alternatively, you can pureé the soup in the pot with an immersion blender but it may not be as smooth.  If you use the blender, rinse out the pot and return the soup to pot.  Stir in the broth then return soup to a boil.  Season with salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with thyme and bacon, if desired.

adapted from Cook’s Illustrated, September 2008

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Leave a Comment

  • October 5, 2012 at 10:14 AM

    The instant I read “creamless creamy tomato soup” I knew it must have been a Cook’s Illustrated recipe! I’ve been meaning to try this soup for months. In fact, I’ve been curious if the technique would work well with other soups too.

  • October 5, 2012 at 12:45 PM

    this soup sounds so amazingly delicious! i can’t wait to try it.

  • October 5, 2012 at 12:58 PM

    I am actually more interested in the cheese sandwich. 😛
    The soup also looks yumm!

  • October 8, 2012 at 9:41 AM

    I love that bread is used to thicken the soup!

  • rayray
    October 8, 2012 at 7:41 PM

    Oh my! I just made this recipe and it is some of the best tomato soup ever! So few ingredients, but so much flavor. I added some shredded carrots for a bit more veggie taste. So delish!!

  • October 9, 2012 at 6:05 AM

    looks divine