The Seasoned Traveler

Recipes and remedies using herbs, spices, and other natural ingredients from the world's pantry

Secret Ingredient Tomato Soup


IMG_6295I remember a bowl of tomato soup I had once, in a little square called San Barnaba off the beaten path in Venice. I was cold, tired, and my life had just shattered. I suppose there is no better place to be heartbroken than in Venice. Every meal I had there, every bowlful of goodness, restored me just a little bit. The soup I had that day was served with a hunk of toasted crusty bread in the middle, soaking in the flavorful tomatoes and covered in a blanket of shaved parmesan cheese. By the time I got to the bottom of the bowl, the last morsels of bread had softened and thickened the soup like a rustic tomato-bread soup. Here I’ve tried to re-create that San Barnaba soup. I’ve used many tomato soup recipes that call for sugar, and I usually either omit it or feel guilty for adding it and spoiling the simplicity of the tomatoes. I found a substitute that even brightens the color and flavor of the soup and is 100 % guilt-free: beet juice. Of course, feel free to use the sweetener of your choice.

Secret Ingredient Tomato Soup

(Adapted from Bon Appetit’s Creamy Tomato Soup)

  • ¼ cup (½ stick) unsalted butterIMG_6307
  • 10 sprigs thyme, tied together
  • 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • ¼ cup tomato paste
  • 2 28-oz. cans whole tomatoes
  • 1 cup beet juice
  • ¼ cup (or more) heavy cream
  • (optional) a dollop of crème fraîche
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper


Melt butter in a large heavy pot over medium heat. Add thyme, onion, and garlic. Cook until onion is completely soft and translucent, 10–12 minutes. Increase heat to medium-high; add tomato paste. Continue cooking, stirring often, until paste has begun to caramelize in spots, 5–6 minutes.

Add tomatoes with juices, 6 cups water and 1 cup beet juice to pot. Increase heat to high; bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium. Simmer until flavors meld and soup reduces to about 2 quarts (8 cups), 45–55 minutes. Remove soup from heat; let cool slightly. Discard thyme sprigs. Working in small batches, purée soup in a blender until smooth. Return to pot. DO AHEAD: Soup can be made 2 days ahead. Let cool slightly, cover, and chill. Rewarm before continuing.

Stir in ¼ cup cream. Simmer soup until flavors meld, 10–15 minutes longer. Season to taste with salt, pepper, and remaining 1 tsp. sugar. Add more cream and/or crème fraîche if desired.

Serve with hunks of crusty bread and shaved parmesan cheese, or a grilled cheese sandwich. For a fancy one, try a Cheddar, Chive & Ciabatta Panino.


Author: Laura Haugen

Writer, Traveler, Foodie

18 thoughts on “Secret Ingredient Tomato Soup

  1. Oh Laura! It’s amazing how we link food to our emotions and remember what we had to comfort us. Lovely recipe and stunning picture x

  2. YUM! Going to try this tomorrow…

  3. The soup is wonderful and it’s brilliant to use the beet juice as a sweetener. I love that this soup can trigger a bittersweet memory and re creating it has to be cathartic. This sounds like a delicious recipe.

  4. Beautiful photographs! I love a good tomato soup and never use sugar…tomatoes love acid so I always slosh in some red or white wine vinegar with mine but I’ll have to try beet juice!

  5. This recipe is very simple and easy! Thank you!

  6. I made this for dinner tonight. It was so good. Hubby and both girls ate it, which is saying something! Thanks so much!

  7. Looks like a wonderful soup! Beautifully photographed too.

  8. Pingback: Holiday Sugar Cookies with Natural Red Icing | The Seasoned Traveler

  9. Simple and rustic. I love it. Thank you!

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