As promised in today’s Seasonal Pantry, available here, I’m posting my favorite recipes for winter and spring tomato soups, when it is best to use good canned tomatoes rather than out-of-season fresh tomatoes. These recipes first appeared in my book, The Good Cook’s Book of Tomatoes (Addison-Wesley, 1994) and I have since published various versions in Seasonal Pantry, but all before the column was archives on line.

Tomato Cilantro Soup–Serves 4

This soup is a work horse, delicious whether made with fresh or canned tomatoes. If you don’t have chicken stock, you can use water instead and you can serve either hot or chilled, with or without one of the suggested condiments. If you prefer a spicy soup, add a minced serrano with the garlic or add a generous pinch or two of red pepper flakes when you salt the garlic and onions.

  • 2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, peeled and diced
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • Kosher salt
  • 3 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade
  • 1 28-ounce can diced or crushed tomatoes, preferably Muir Glen brand
  • Black pepper in a mill
  • 1/2 cup cilantro leaves, torn or chopped
  • Toppings of choice: homemade aioli, Italian-style salsa verde, cilantro sauce (minced cilantro with garlic, lime juice and olive oil), burrata, plain whole milk yogurt, minced avocado and lime juice)
  1. Pour the olive oil into a large saucepan or medium soup pot, set over medium low heat, add the onion and saute until very limp and fragrant, about 20 to 25 minutes; do not let the onion brown. Add the garlic, saute 2 minutes more and season with salt.
  2. Add the chicken stock and tomatoes, bring to a boil and simmer gently for about 12 to 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool slightly.
  3. Use an immersion blender to puree the soup.
  4. Taste, correct for salt, season with several turns of black pepper and stir in the cilantro. Serve hot or chilled, with or without a topping of choice.

Tomato Bread Soup–Serves 6 to 8

Bread soups are hearty and delicious; they are also an ideal way to use up good bread that is too stale for other uses. The better the bread, the better the soup.

Tomato Bread Soup is easy to make and absolutely delicious, especially with a green salad and a glass of red wine alongside.

  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 yellow onions, peeled and cut into small dice
  • 6 to 8 garlic cloves, minced
  • Kosher salt
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 4 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade
  • 1 28-ounce can diced or crushed tomatoes, preferably homemade
  • Black pepper in a mill
  • 1/2 cup parsley leaves, chopped
  • 3 to 4 cups good hearth bread, preferably a day or two old, torn or cut into bite sized pieces
  • Best-quality extra virgin olive oil, such as Davero Estate
  1. Pour the olive oil into a large saucepan or soup pot set over medium low heat, add the onions and saute until very soft and fragrant, about 20 to 25 minutes. Do not let the onions brown. Add the garlic, saute 2 minutes more and season generously with salt and a generous pinch or two of red pepper flakes.
  2. Add the chicken stock and the tomatoes and simmer gently for 12 to 15 minutes, unless the flavors come together. Taste, correct for salt, season with several generous turns of black pepper and stir in the parsley.
  3. Divide the bread among individual soup bowls or soup plates and ladle soup on top of it. Drizzle each portion with a little olive oil and serve immediately.

Spicy Tomato Soup with Potatoes & Sausage–Serves 6 to 8

If you like creamy tomato soups, try this one; the potatoes contribute a creamy texture without adding actual cream; I find that cream eclipses the flavor of the tomatoes while the potatoes enhance it.

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, peeled and diced
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 or 2  serranos, minced
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 pounds potatoes of choice, scrubbed and sliced
  • 3 cups homemade chicken stock
  • 1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes, preferably Muir Glen brand
  • Black pepper in a mill
  • 1/2 cup Italian parsley leaves, chopped
  • 1 pound sausages of choice (I prefer Scopa Chorizo but any good sausage will work), cooked and cut into 1/4-inch thick rounds
  1. Pour the olive oil into a soup pot, set over medium-low heat and add the onion. Saute over low heat until very soft and fragrant, about 20 to 25 minutes. Add the garlic and the serranos, saute 2 minutes more and season with salt.
  2. Add the potatoes, pour in the chicken stock and add 3 cups of water. Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce the heat to medium low and simmer gently until the potatoes are tender, about 10 to 12 minutes.
  3. Add the tomatoes and simmer 12 to 15 minutes more.
  4. Taste, correct for salt and season generously with black pepper. Stir in the parsley.
  5. Cut the sliced sausage in half.
  6. To serve chunky, stir the sausage into the soup, ladle into soup bowls or soup plates and serve immediately. To serve creamy, use an immersion blender to puree the soup. Ladle into soup bowls, scatter sausage on top and serve.