Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Tomato Bisque – Soup Might Not Count as a Meal, but Bisque Certainly Does

It’s been awhile since I dropped a Seinfeld reference, but this hearty tomato bisque had me reminiscing about the famous “soup’s not a meal” episode. It’s rich, hearty, and satisfyingly thick without being heavy. Sorry, Bania, it counts. 

There are different opinions on what makes something a bisque. Technically, it’s made from some sort of shellfish puree, but modern usage includes vegetables as well. Above and beyond that, it has to have cream, and be thickened with rice.

One problem with many of the tomato soups I’ve had, is that they are either thickened with tons of tomato paste, which is like eating a bowl of pasta sauce, or they’re thickened with a flour roux or cornstarch slurry, which leaves them too pasty for me. A little rice thickens the soup just as well , but also gives it a nice silky texture.

As far as the canned tomatoes go, we’re using the same argument here we use for tomato sauce. Unless you have some amazingly sweet, vine-ripened specimens around, that you’ve peeled, seeded, and cooked down to get rid of the excess moisture, then chances are San Marzano tomatoes will produce a superior product.

I tried to stress in the video how important it is to adjust the seasonings to your liking,  especially the sweetness. Many of us were raised on Campbell’s tomato soup (and grilled cheese sandwiches, of course), and because that flavor is so ingrained in our taste memories, you need to get this at least close for it to work. Taste, adjust, taste, adjust, and as always, enjoy!


Ingredients for 6 Portions:
1 tbsp olive oil
1 cup diced onion
1/2 cup diced celery
3 cloves garlic
1 quart chicken broth, plus more as needed
1 (28-oz) can crushed San Marzano tomatoes, or about 3 1/2 cups of other crushed tomatoes
1/2 tsp paprika
3 tbsp white long grain rice
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 or 2 tsp sugar, or to taste
salt and pepper to taste
cayenne to taste
basil to garnish

37 comments:

Jeremy Nichol said...

You couldn't be more right about Campbell's Tomato soup and grilled cheese!

Thanks for another great recipe.

Cassidy Anderson said...

recreational skimming, lolz.

do you have children chef john? cause you make the best dad jokes ever. :)

Coleens Recipes said...

We are getting frost here in Alaska, so it is definitely SOUP time. Thank you for sharing this recipe.

Karyn Rukin said...

I love tomato soup. This one sounds wonderful. Some times receipes get complicated and you think to your self,,Why Bother. This is tomorrows dinner with the grilled cheese.

CWR032 said...

One of my favorite late night snacks is tomato soup with a grilled cheese made with swiss on dark Jewish rye. I'm definitely going to try this soup recipe with that sandwich.

Bania was a jerk.

chad raye said...

Chef john I have a soup related question I work at a small mom and pop restaurant we feature two soups clam chodwer the other being mushroom brie we double boil the clam chowder because it is a roux-based soup the mushroom brie is cornstarch based but as of recently the mushroom Bri has been breaking due to the heat has it been converted to a roux based soup or can corn starch based soup break? Both use milk. Just curious. Love your blog thanks for your time

Roberto said...

For a completely different tone when you eat the leftovers the next day garnish with a big blob of sour cream (let the eater stir it in) and a sprinkling of dill.

Eric Eligator said...

Looks delicious. I've always thickened with a roux, so can't wait to try this. I've also added vinegar for little extra bite. Is that something you like?

Benny Be said...

when simmering for 35-45 minutes should there be a lid on it?

Chef John said...

No. I'd have shown and mentioned in the video if that was the case.

Chef John said...

Yes, I put vinegar sometimes too!

Chef John said...

Chad,not sure, but at a certain temp the brie will separate no matter the starch.

Nate said...

I may have to try this....with the San Marzano tomatoes that I grew this year.

philogaia said...

I love homemade cream of tomato soup. And it is so easy I have no idea why I never made it until a couple of years ago.

Under the heading of necessity being the mother of invention I had a bumper crop of tomatoes come in just as I had no time to use them all. I wound up making a tomato soup base with the cooked tomatoes blended with the onions and garlic and pushed through a sieve to get out the skins and seeds. The resulting base was very thick and only needed chicken stock, cream, and a bit of heat to finish. I've canned it in 1/2 pint jars. I'd never thought of this before but I'll bet I put up more next year!

thisdamecooks said...

Chef your list of ingredients is missing "sugar to taste" for those who cook from a written recipe.
What kind of bread is your grilled cheese made with? Looks yum! Will definitely try the rice for thickening. Thanks.

Chef John said...

Thanks! fixed!

bdwilcox said...

You are the Carlton Fisk of your bisque.

Chef John said...

Nice!

Jaz said...

Don't use vine ripened tomatoes? Darn... I've got 15 pounds of them I'm trying to use up. This recipe looks delicious, can't wait to try it :-)

Matthew said...

"More promiscuous Cousin", "recreational skimming" and "keeping shirts up your jumper" are the very reasons why I love your work, Chef John.

Jerome said...

Putting rice in a soup... very interesting as I see the texture you obtained...

Lars Nielsen said...

Very very good on a students budget

Shilag said...

One of my family members has a food allergy to Celery, so I can't use that in this. Would you suggest simply leaving it out or is there some possible substitute?

Benny Be said...

Made this yesterday and it was amazing. Your recipes are always spot on and full proof chef. Thank you for making me feel like a professional chef.

Chef John said...

Just leave it out! There is nothing like it.

sara santini said...

Soooo...I must have a lot of time on my hands I guess bc I just so happen to have tomatoes that were fresh, that I peeled, seeded, and reduced down.

Heather Posegate said...

I only have brown rice on hand. Can I use brown rice or wild rice in this recipe?

Heather Posegate said...

I only have brown rice on hand, can I use brown rice or wild rice for this recipe?

Chef John said...

it would thicken, but wouldn't recommend. You don't want that earthy flavor.

Libby said...

Thank you for another one of your great recipes...turned family fav in my house.

Fr Ah said...

Hi, chef John!

I just can't wrap my head around what "a quart chicken broth plus more as needed" means. What exactly is more as needed?

Fr Ah said...

Oops, sorry if that last comment slipped through. I'm from Europe, so I falsely interpreted "1 quart" as one quarter of a cup, instead of four cups!Now the recipe makes a lot more sense to me XD

Tandye said...

I love this guy! I could listen to him forever. <3 Thank you for this recipe and for making cooking look easy and super fun.

... said...

Just finished making this for dinner, with grilled cheese of course. It was delicious! I added a little chopped spinach to mine as well. Thanks for the amazing recipe!

Laura Miller said...

Absolutely fantastic tomato bisque. I love tomato soup and this is by far the best recipe I have come across. I added basil directly into the pot to make tomato basil bisque and turned out wonderful. Kudos Chef!

Hugo Taljaard said...

Im Making this for the second time now here in Africa, and its summer time. Thats how good this is. Thanks Chef

Chuck Hamman said...

John - wow. I just made this tomato bisque for a party. My friends said I should become a caterer. Outstanding tutorial!

You're always entertaining and jam-packed with good information. I've learned so much from you.

Your videos have soul. You're a character. Don't lose that.

It's clear you know your stuff and you genuinely have a fun time doing so. My wife (and friends) thank you! Best cooking videos on the internet - hands down!

Have you ever thought of being a guest on a radio or TV show?