Tomato basil soup is one of those memorable comfort foods. It warms us up on the coldest of winter days and pairs beautifully with easy sandwiches or salads.
When you use your slow cooker to cook up a batch of homemade tomato soup with basil and other garden-fresh herbs, you’ll end up with a big pot of savory goodness. It makes enough for your family to enjoy today and leftovers for your work week.
I call this Tomato Basil Soup, but it has other herbs than only basil. It also features fresh parsley and fresh rosemary, all are from my own herb garden.
If you live in a mild climate like I do and can get your hands on fresh herbs, use those. You’ll find the fresh herb flavor and aroma unbeatable.
However, those in colder locations can substitute dried herbs if that’s what’s available.
In fact, we don’t have good tomatoes in the store this time of year, I made this from organic canned tomatoes. They offer an alternative to fresh tomatoes that are tastier than off-season tomatoes.
Plus, someone else has done all the work straining out the seeds and skinning the tomatoes. If you have access to–and want to blanch and seed the equivalent of the tomato amounts in the recipe–I applaud you!
That’s the great thing about this slow cooker tomato basil soup. It’s easily adaptable. In fact, I am going to share three different ways to make this classic.
- Creamy Tomato Basil Soup
- Dairy Free Tomato Basil Soup
- Fire Roasted Tomato Basil Soup
I will also explain how to adapt each soup to a stove top version for those who don’t have a slow cooker.
The Health Benefits of the Tomato
Some refer to the tomato as a Super Fruit. It is, indeed, a fruit and not a vegetable. Technically, the nightshade family of South American plants produces tomatoes which are like the “berries” of the plant.
Interestingly, the nightshade family also includes plants that appear unrelated to the tomato at first glance. Other nightshade family members include eggplant, peppers, potatoes, and goji berries.
And I will concede that you do receive the greatest benefit from raw sun-ripened tomatoes over canned tomatoes.
However, when you read the label of salt-free, organic canned tomatoes, you will see that they also are packed with nutrients that are sometimes challenging to get in the winter and early spring months.
Let’s agree that, overall, research proves that tomatoes are incredibly important to a healthy diet. Here are a few reasons why:
Lycopene improves heart health
Tomatoes are rich in a plant compound called lycopene. This compound gives tomatoes (and other red or pink fruits such as watermelons) their lush, vibrant color.
Americans receive the majority of their lycopene from tomato sauces, ketchup, and other canned tomato products.
Research conducted by the National Institute for Health proves that lycopene remains stable during the canning process, and that’s great news for our Tomato Basil Soup recipe.
What makes lycopene so noteworthy?
It’s a powerful antioxidant that offers you many health benefits.
- Lowers systolic blood pressure number (top number)
- Helps protect your skin from UV damage
- Fights osteoporosis by improving bone strength
- Improves male health by fighting prostate cancer
If you are interested in increasing more lycopene to your diet, some other foods rich in this antioxidant are as follows:
- Red cabbage
- Red bell peppers
As you know, most “rules” are made to be broken. Two red fruits that do not contain lycopene are cherries and strawberries.
Low calorie, high-fiber food source for special diets
Look to tomatoes for a low-calorie food with high water content. Furthermore, tomatoes provide a good dose of dietary fiber. Plus, tomatoes contain only a tiny amount of carbs that come primarily from insoluble fibers.
Those who are following a low-calorie or high fiber diet can eat tomatoes with the confidence. This information means that you’re consuming a fruit that meets those dietary guidelines.
Whether you’re trying to control fat, calories, or carbs, tomatoes can help you reach your nutritional goals.
Rich in vitamins that your body requires
Want a natural source of vitamins? Because tomatoes are packed with vitamins, you’ve landed on a great source.
- Vitamin C: This is a powerful antioxidant that helps fight free radicals. Those free radicals come from pollution and can cause cancer. Additionally, it fights inflammation in your body.
- Vitamin K: This vitamin aids in bone health and appropriate blood clotting.
- Folate: Also called B9, folate helps the body restore cellular health and grow tissue.
- Vitamin A: Technically, tomatoes contain beta-carotene. Your body converts this compound into Vitamin A. This vitamin nourishes your eyes, immune system, skin, and mucus membranes.
You probably knew all your life that tomatoes are good for you. But, now you know precisely what all the fuss is all about.
Let’s move on and make these three tomato soup variations.
- Creamy Tomato Basil Soup
- Non-Dairy Tomato Basil Soup
- Fire Roasted Tomato Basil Soup
Dairy Free Tomato Basil Soup
Because there are many people who eat dairy-free diets, we will start with the Dairy Free Tomato Basil Soup in the slow cooker.
This slow cooker soup is the base for the other variations of this tomato soup recipe. I’m including variations for stovetop tomato soup and home-canned tomato basil soup.
This recipe is a dairy-free version of classic tomato basil soup.
- 28 oz. can of salt-free organic crushed tomatoes
- 28 oz. can of salt-free organic tomato sauce
- 32 oz. box of reduced-sodium vegetable stock
- 2 - large handfuls of fresh basil, washed and chopped
- 1 tbl. dried basil
- 1 sprig of fresh rosemary--washed and on the stem
- fresh or dried parsley to taste
- 2 cloves of freshly grated garlic
- 1/2 tsp. of black pepper
- 1/2 tsp. of ground red pepper
- 1 cup of plain, unsweetened almond mild (optional)
- Open the cans of crushed tomatoes and tomato sauce and place them in the slow cooker.
- Add the entire box of vegetable stock
- Add the garlic, herbs, and pepper to the slow cooker pot.
- Cook on low setting for 7 hours. The soup will slightly reduce and thicken up. If you're at home, stir occasionally. However, if you put this on while away, no worry although you might get a little "sticking" when you wash the crock.
- If you want to add almond milk or other non-dairy milk, stir it in after 6 hours, whisk it in, and re-cover the crock for an additional hour. Note: if you are planning to can this soup, do not add the milk substitute.
- Remove the rosemary and discard the stem.
- This soup has a rustic texture with small flecks of tomato which is lovely. If you prefer to smooth it out, you may use an immersion blender. That's your preference.
- I chose salt-free, organic tomatoes for my soup. This is because I'm on a low-sodium diet due to hypertension. I still recommend purchasing the sodium-free organic tomatoes as some canned tomatoes have staggering amounts of salt. Control your salt intake by seasoning it from your own salt shaker.
- You don't have to add the almond milk, although it does give a nice creamy consistency. Feel free to experiment with your favorite milk.
- Omit the almond milk if you're canning the soup. It will curdle in the canner. Instead, add the almond milk when you heat up the soup to eat it.
Dairy Free Tomato Basil Soup — Stovetop Variation
Here are three hints on making this tomato soup recipe on the stovetop. You’ll use all the same ingredients.
First, make sure to use a large non-reactive pot. The acidity of tomatoes can react with a metal pot and cause a bitter or metallic flavor.
Second, cook the soup at barely a simmer. However, the tomato basil soup will be ready in about 5 to 6 hours.
Third, cook with the lid on so you don’t thicken it into a sauce!
Home-canned Tomato Basil Soup in the Power Pressure Cooker XL
Canning tomato soup is easy. Once you learn just how simple it is to do, you’ll smack your head in disbelief wondering why you settled for the .40 cent condensed soup so many times before.
I can my soup in the Power Pressure XL. This is an electric pressure cooker. Personally, I chose this model because it was the only one that I found with a canning function.
Since I made this purchase, InstaPot has come out with a model which can also can foods.
Like all else, there are pros and cons to canning with the electric pressure canner versus a stovetop pressure canner.
Pros of the Power Pressure XL for Canning:
- More predictable outcome than a stovetop pressure cooker
- Built-in safety features
- Easy to use
Cons of the Power Pressure XL for Canning:
- Maximum jar size is one pint
- Holds fewer jars per batch than a large stovetop pressure canner (7 jars max)
Steps to Make Home Canned Tomato Basil Soup:
- Follow the recipe for the Dairy-Free Tomato Basil Soup. Omit the almond milk as it will separate and curdle during the canning. I know I mentioned this on the recipe card, but it’s important to remember.
- Sterilize your jars and canning rings by boiling them in hot water for 10 minutes. Some people use the “sanitize” cycle in the dishwasher. I don’t have a dishwasher in my kitchen, so I can’t personally confirm this and have never tried it.
- Wash new lids for your jars for the amount of time that’s indicated on the box. I always use Ball brand as they seal reliably. I simmer them the whole time I’m prepping the jars, usually about 15 minutes. Never re-use canning lids as you can create a weak seal that allows dangerous bacteria into your food.
- Spoon the hot tomato basil soup into the prepared jars, leaving 1/4″ of headspace. Remember, when you’re canning you should remove air bubbles by running a knife around the inside of the jar.
- Wipe the rim of any splashes of tomato soup, ensuring clean contact between the lid and the jar.
- Use a magnetic “lid lifter” to remove the jar lids from the simmering water and carefully center them on the jar. Using a pot holder, screw on the rings as tightly as possible.
- Place the canning jar rack into the bottom of the cooker.
- Carefully use canning tongs to place the hot jars into the canner.
- Add 6 cups of hot water over the jars.
- I left the pressure at the default pressure of 80 kPa and processed for 30 minutes.
- After canning time ends, release the pressure and remove the jars to a towel to cool. Do not press on the lids to check them. It’s tempting. Don’t move the jars for 24 hours. If any jars don’t seal, do not store them away!
- One batch will make 10 half-pint jars or 5-pint jars. I like to split the difference and use 12-oz jelly jars.
Why choose a pressure canner?
I know some of you are asking yourselves a question. Why pressure can instead of boiling water can this soup? Because I add in fresh garlic and herbs, it slightly lowers the acidity of the tomato product. Better to be safe than sorry, especially when it comes to home canning.
When you re-heat the soup to enjoy it, feel free to add a couple tablespoons of dairy-substitute or milk for a creamier texture.
Keep home canned tomato basil soup on hand for those days where you just don’t have the energy to cook.
People have different opinions about the safety of home canning. I grew up in the country and never knew that I could purchase canned veggies until I was in college (true story). Others feel that they’d rather leave canning to the pros.
Only you can decide if it’s the best option for your lifestyle.
Slow Cooker Creamy Tomato Basil Soup
Moving on, let’s look at how to make creamy tomato basil soup. Although not vegan, this is a vegetarian tomato basil soup enriched with half and half for a silky-smooth mouthfeel.
There's no more classic a comfort food than Creamy Tomato Basil Soup. Fix this recipe in the slow cooker for added convenience.
- 28 oz. salt-free organic crushed tomatoes
- 28 oz. salt-free tomato sauce, organic
- 32 oz. salt-free vegetable stock (it's in a box near the canned soups)
- 2 large handfuls of fresh sweet basil, washed and minced
- 1 heaping tablespoon of dried basil
- 1 large sprig of rosemary (keep on the stem)
- Freshly harvested parsley, to taste or dried parsley
- 2 cloves of grated garlic
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 1/2 tsp red pepper
- 1 cup of half and half
- Place all ingredients into your slow cooker.
- Cook on low for 6 1/2 hours. You may stir occasionally to minimize sticking, but keep the lid on as much as possible.
- After 6 1/2 hours, add in the half and half. Whisk it to ensure it blends well. Replace lid and cook an additional 30 minutes.
- Remove the sprig of rosemary.
- If you'd like a creamier texture, you may use an immersion blender to smooth out the soup more. Some prefer this more rustic texture.
- Serve with your favorite sandwich or bread as a side.
- Organic, salt-free tomato products are the next best thing to fresh. Opt for these whenever possible.
- You may add salt if you find it needs it. However, for those on a restricted sodium diet, this is an ideal bowl of soup.
Stovetop Creamy Tomato Soup – a nice variation
Don’t worry if you don’t have a slow cooker. You can still enjoy this soup!
Use the same ingredients to recreate this as a stovetop tomato soup.
Begin with a non-reactive soup pot to prevent the acid in the tomatoes from reacting with the pot. Otherwise, you will have a metallic or bitter result.
Keep the soup set to a low, slow simmer for about 5 hours, then add the half and half. Minimize the times you lift the lid to stir it, so you retain the moisture in the pot. Otherwise, you will over-reduce the tomato basil soup to a sauce.
Fire Roasted Tomato Basil Soup from the Slow Cooker
This final variation of slow cooker tomato basil soup will please the palate of everyone in your home. Fire-roasting adds a pleasant, subtle smokiness that complements the tomato flavor.
Use your slow cooker to cook a delicious batch of Fire Roasted Tomato Soup
- 28 oz. can of diced fire roasted tomatoes
- 28 oz can of fire roasted crushed tomatoes
- 32 oz. box of vegetable stock (near the canned soups)
- 2 large handfuls of sweet basil, cleaned and chopped
- or -- 1 to 2 tbl dried basil
- 2 cloves of garlic, grated
- Fresh or dried parsley to taste
- Large sprig of fresh rosemary
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 1/2 tsp ground red pepper
- Optional: half and half or almond milk - one cup
- Place all ingredients in the slow cooker, stir, and cook for 7 hours on low setting.
- Remove rosemary sprig and toss it.
- Use an immersion blender to break down the diced tomatoes and create a smooth texture. If you don't have an immersion blender, a countertop blender will also work.
- If you'd like to add half and half, you may do so after blending. Then, allow the soup to cook another 20 to 30 minutes to warm milk.
Fire Roasted Tomato Basil Soup on the Stovetop
It might sound dramatic, but I can’t imagine life without my well-used slow cooker. But for those who don’t have one, here’s an easy way to make Fire Roasted Tomato Soup on top of the stove.
Place all the ingredients from the recipe in a large non-reactive pot. Simmer for about 5 hours, keeping the lid on but stirring occasionally.
Here is where this can get a bit tricky. Your non-reactive pot is probably a non-stick pan, so you don’t want to use an immersion blender or it will flake off the coating into your tomato soup.
Here, you have two options.
First, you can pour the contents into a countertop blender. Blend the diced tomatoes down in small batches. Then return the entire contents back to the pot to add milk, if desired.
Second, you could skip the blending if you don’t mind a chunkier tomato soup.
The Wrap Up
Once you master the basics of making Slow Cooker Tomato Basil soup, you’ll see that the recipe is quite flexible and forgiving.
Experiment with different herbs, add some heat with some chili flakes or play with different milk alternatives. Coconut milk for an Asian twist, perhaps?
Regardless of whether you want to can this soup or serve it right away, I guarantee you that you won’t ever want to purchase the unhealthy cans of soup from the store again.