Tomato Basil Bisque

Tomato Basil Bisque

After a few weeks of enduring a nagging sore throat, I have had plenty of time and inclination to hone my soup-craft. This recipe, to paraphrase Isaac Newton in a context that he would find thoroughly appropriate, is only possible by standing on the shoulders of giants.  In this case, the “giant” is The Pioneer Woman. Her original recipe, Sherried Tomato Soup, can be found here. I made her recipe as directed the first time and thought it was great. A perfect bowl of comfort food on a cold day. The second time, I made a few changes that amp up the flavor, the texture, and the alcohol content.

There are a few ingredients in this recipe that I expect to raise eyebrows. First is the sugar. Don’t skip the sugar! It’s needed to counter the acidity of the tomatoes. Second is the bottle of tomato juice. In my younger, less-tired years, I would have described adding a bottle of tomato juice as “cheating”. Now I care less about from-scratch-everything and more about delicious food I can make after working a full day. Last is the sherry. The original recipe uses cooking sherry. Cooking sherry is available in grocery stores because it isn’t drinkable as an alcoholic beverage. I prefer the flavor of the real stuff. I used an pale dry sherry. The kind from the liquor store. It’s inexpensive (under $10 for a large bottle), and keeps indefinitely. If you follow my lead and go the boozy route, just make sure that you do not use a cream sherry or a sweet sherry (way, way too sweet).

For a truly perfect pairing, you can’t beat classic grilled cheese. And a glass of sherry. Just kidding.

Tomato Basil Bisque

Tomato Basil Bisque

Recipe modified from The Pioneer Woman’s “Sherried Tomato Soup”

Yields 6-8 servings

You will need:

  • 1 1/2 medium yellow onions, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh garlic
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Two 14.5-ounce cans diced tomatoes (undrained)
  • One 46-ounce bottle of tomato juice
  • 2 tablespoons white sugar
  • 3 vegetarian bouillon cubes (low sodium)
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh basil
  • 1/4 cup chopped Italian flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, chopped (optional)
  • 1 1/3 cups sherry
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 2 teaspoons black pepper (or more, adjust to taste)


  • Heat a large pot to medium-high and add olive oil, onions, and fresh garlic. Saute for three to five minutes, until fragrant.
  • Add tomatoes, tomato juice, sugar, and bouillon cubes. Stir occasionally for ten minutes, then remove from heat.
  • Stir in fresh basil and chopped parsley. Use an immersion blender (or food processor) to blend to desired consistency.
  • Transfer the soup to the pot, and set heat to medium. Add chopped cherry tomatoes (if using), sherry, heavy cream, and black pepper. Stir until the cream is fully incorporated into the mixture and the soup reaches desired heat.
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