Roasted Tomato and Bread Soup

roasted-tomato bread soup

In April of last year, Vince Vaughn hosted SNL, and delivered a hilarious, wise and insightful monologue. After acknowledging the importance of the audience’s role in the success of an SNL show, he ventured off stage, engaged a few of the audience members, and confiscated a cell phone, noting he “believe[s] sometimes it’s better to take the memories with our hearts and minds.” He then turned to the camera to say: “That’s for all you kids out there tonight. It’s OK to put down the phone and be a part of the memory. That lasts a lifetime as well.”

I’ve thought about this monologue often since seeing that SNL episode but never so much as last week, when three hours after arriving in Minneapolis en route to a cabin in Wisconsin, I realized I had left my camera on the plane and that all of the moments I had looked forward to capturing in billions of pixels during the week with friends and family would by necessity be cemented solely into my heart and mind. I know a camera is just a thing, and I shouldn’t fret — we have our health! and happiness! — but I still have a pit in my stomach. New camera arriving tomorrow. Yay.

Anyway, I made this soup the day before we left. We had a ton of beautiful tomatoes that needed to be consumed immediately, and because one can only eat so many bagels with cream cheese and tomato in one day, roasted tomato soup it would be.

I first posted this recipe several years ago now, but since publishing it, I’ve learned two things about the soup that inspired its creation: the chef used water, not stock, and always used canned San Marzano tomatoes. Both details surprised me, and while I have never successfully made the soup with canned tomatoes, I now only use water.

If this sounds suspicious or if you can’t help but think stock could only make this soup taste better, let’s review: remember that French onion soup we made last winter? Or that delectable fresh tomato-red pepper pasta sauce we made last summer? Each of these recipes call for water not stock or cream. Here, slow-roasting the tomatoes, onions, carrots and garlic concentrates all of the flavors, making any liquid but water unnecessary. Furthermore, water doesn’t muddy the pure tomato flavor. As with the onion soup, you need to plan ahead — the onions roast for almost three hours — but the work is mostly hands off.

I know it’s hard this time of year not to eat tomatoes any other way but raw, with a sprinkling of salt and a drizzle of olive oil, but if you’re lucky enough to have a glut, this one’s for you — I have no doubt it will make an impression in your heart and mind.

summer tomatoes

other ingredients

ready for the oven

just roasted

roasted garlic cloves

ready to be puréed

puréed soup

Roasted Tomato and Bread Soup

Roasted Tomato and Bread Soup

Inspired originally by a soup served at Cafe Mimosa in San Clemente. Original post here.

Notes: Plan ahead: the vegetables roast for three hours. Once they are done, however, the soup comes together in no time.

Feel free to use whatever vegetables you have on hand — a few leeks, celery, peppers, etc. would all make nice additions.

Serves 4 to 6 as a first course


  • 3 lbs (1.36 kg) tomatoes, about, halved if large, left whole if cherry or grape, enough to fill a sheet tray
  • 1 onion, peeled and chopped into big chunks (9.5 oz | 256 g once trimmed)
  • 1 shallot, peeled and chopped into big chunks (3 1/8 oz | 88 g once trimmed)
  • 1 head garlic, cloves separated but left peeled, lightly smashed (1.5 oz | 42 g)
  • one large carrot, unpeeled, roughly chopped (2 oz | 55 g)
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, about
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt plus more to taste
  • fresh cracked pepper
  • 4 to 5 oz | 135 g (a couple slices) bakery style bread or peasant bread
  • 2 to 3 cups water
  • 1 bunch (1 oz | 28 g) fresh basil
  • crushed red pepper flakes to taste
  • Shaved Parmigiano Reggiano and more bread for serving, optional
  • olive oil for drizzling, optional


  1. Preheat the oven to 300ºF. Line a rimmed sheet tray with all of the vegetables. The vegetables should cover the tray in a single layer. (Note: the total weight of vegetables is about 4 lbs or 1.812 kg.) Drizzle olive oil over top. Season with 1 teaspoon kosher salt and pepper to taste. Roast for about three hours, but start checking after 2 hours — sometimes they are done in 2.5 hours. The vegetables should be soft and slightly caramelized.
  2. Meanwhile, toast the bread. If you haven't already, slice the bread into ½-inch thick pieces. Place on the counter to dry or toast briefly in the toaster. You can also stick the bread in the oven for about 20 minutes or so while the tomatoes are roasting. You just want to dry out the bread; you’re not trying to brown it.
  3. When the vegetables are done, place them in a pot with 2½ cups of water. Bring to a simmer. Note: It's best to bring this soup to a simmer slowly — it spits violently if you heat it too quickly. Also, reheat with the lid on over low heat for the same reason.
  4. Season with a pinch of salt and crushed red pepper flakes if using. Add the bunch of basil. Break one slice of bread into medium-sized cubes and add to the pot. Using an emersion blender or food processor or traditional blender, puree the soup roughly. Add the other slice of bread if necessary. The soup should be slightly chunky. Taste and add more salt or bread if necessary. Thin with more water until soup reaches desired consistency.
  5. Serve with a drizzle of olive oil and a few shavings of Parmigiano Reggiano.

peasant bread:
peasant bread


  1. Lisa See says

    You read my mind! We have so many of tomatoes right now I have been struggling to keep up with them.
    Is the bread just for thickening? Can it be deleted if one is gluten free?

    • says

      Lisa, I think it is — it’s an old Italian recipe (pappa al pomodoro) — and it certainly could be left out. The roasted, pureéed tomatoes are delicious on their own.

  2. says

    So sorry for your camera! I know by now you probably exhausted all the possibilities, but are you sure no one delivered the camera to a lost and found at the airport? Oh, that hurts so bad!

    This soup looks simply amazing….

    • says

      Sally, you know, I actually haven’t called. I need to. I looked online for a number but kept getting directed to an online submission form, which I filled out. I am going to search again for a number. It’s so painful to think about.

  3. Laura in Sonoma says

    Still getting the crazy replies I see.
    I hate to post unless I’ve actually prepared it or have a question, but this time I need to whine. Happily surprised with how beautiful Alpharetta is, but LEFT SO MANY TOMATOES on my vines at home :( Neighbors will be taking advantage of the bounty, but alas none for us. They do sell some California heirlooms out here, but as we know, there always picked to soon and never taste as good as the ones picked fresh and ripe from the garden. But I will save this for next year as it looks fabulous. Hope all is well with you Ali.

    • says

      Laura, it’s the most annoying thing! I think I need to add a password, at least for a little while.

      I forgot that you were spending some time away! It must be a little painful to think about those tomatoes, but I’m glad to hear they won’t be going to waste. What lucky neighbors! I’ve really never had tomatoes as good as the cherokee purple we would get at our San Clemente farmers’ market. They were a dream. Hope you are well, too, Laura!

  4. says

    I loved rewatching that SNL monologue of Vince’s :) :) I’m glad you get to have your memories saved even without the camera, of course!… but, still such a bummer about the camera.

    The flavors in this soup must be insane! Very timely too since my mother brought me more romas than I know what to do with. Don’t you just love that immersion blender?

  5. says

    My gosh, Alexandra. I can’t wait for my tomatoes to ripen so I can make this beauty! Also I’m happy to report that I made your honey baked chicken legs for dinner last night and they were a big hit. I’m also addicted to your mom’s peasant bread. Your blog is my new favorite! Thanks for sharing the love :)

  6. says

    This soup looks heavenly! Sorry to hear about your camera. I was actually just reading an article who’s main point was people that take pictures while at a museum remember LESS of what they saw then people who don’t take photos. So there is a bright side I suppose!

  7. Trish says

    Ali, so sorry to hear about your camera! I would have a pit in my stomach as well. I hope you recover it. But, remember this–photographs are just tangible evidence of memories we already have captured in our hearts and mind.
    Thanks for sharing this soup recipe. I have been modifying the recipe you shared for Pasta Alla Vecchia Bettola to make tomato soup. Now, I can just use this one! Can’t wait to try (after these 100+ days are out of here).

  8. says

    Roasted tomato soup is one of my favorite things. Your photos are so gorgeous! I’m so sorry about your camera…I always hold out hope that there are more honest people than not in this world and someone will turn it in.

  9. Meg says

    Hi –
    I made this soup twice and find that the tomatoes are so acidic, it needs something to smooth it out a little. I thought about a pinch of sugar but I don’t know if sweetener is the thing. Any suggestions?

    • says

      Hi Meg,

      Would you be opposed to adding dairy? A little heavy cream might do the trick, or if you stir a spoonful of creme fraiche into each bowl, that might help, too. Sugar could help, but I found the roasted peppers to be so sweet, so I would hate to make it too sweet. Let me know, and I’ll keep thinking!

  10. says

    This soup looks incredible! I am saving the recipe it to make next year when I will be sure to plant extra tomatoes… this is my first year having a garden and I only planted one tomato plant. The tomatoes don’t even make it to my kitchen as I end up eating them when I water the plants every morning!

    • says

      I love it…sounds like our garden. We’ve been pulling in a few at a time, but I have a dear friend who gave me all of those yellow tomatoes in the photo, which were delicious, and we’ve been getting beauties in our CSA as well.

  11. Laurie says

    Okay, so with all the rain this year and not as hot I now have like twenty pounds of tomatoes on my kitchen cabinet! Yikes! Time to get out the sheet pans and olive oil! I wonder how they would freeze once roasted?? Not sure about that idea? The weather is fixing to cool off next week! Yay Fall! Hugs!!

    • says

      I’m so jealous! We’ve been bringing in two at a time for weeks. I would love a boatload! I think they will freeze beautifully. I’m excited for fall, too! xo

  12. Laurie says

    Well, nothing got frozen because we ate all of the first batch! Man, if tomato soup had tasted like that when I was little I’da been eating it everyday! It was amazing! I’m making the second batch this week!

  13. Norma says

    I made this soup on Sunday, I had it for lunch today and it is delicious, I used the red pepper flakes loved the touch of heat. This is a keeper, I froze some and looking forward to that. Thanks for the recipe.

  14. says

    This soup turned out SO GOOD. That roasted garlic really amps it up a notch. I licked it off my fingers as I peeled it. (I assumed correctly that I should slip the peels off the garlic cloves once they’re roasted, right?) Man oh man, what a great segway between summer and fall foods :)

  15. Cari says

    Thank you so much for sharing this lovely recipe. My family loved it! I have SO many tomatoes right now. Have you ever tried freezing this soup with the bread in it?….just wondered how it would hold up….
    Thanks again!!

    • says

      So happy to hear this, Cari! Very jealous of your overload of tomatoes :)

      OK, I have a batch in the freezer (with the bread in it) but I haven’t tried thawing it yet. I am curious, too. If I thaw it tomorrow for lunch or dinner, I will report back. Your comment is making me think though for future reference, it might be better to freeze without the bread, and then to add the bread once you thaw…good thinking. I will report back!

  16. Felicia says

    This was absolutely amazing! My veggies were done after 2 hours, so I’m glad you noted to start checking at that point. It was impossible not to eat the entire thing myself!

    • says

      So happy to hear this! It’s funny how every oven is different, so I’m glad you checked early…they can go from soft to hard pretty quickly. Thanks for writing in!

  17. Elise says

    Just made the soup and peasant bread for our dinner, daughter came down from her room saying, “Oh, my God mom , that smells Amazing !” I roasted the vegetables for, 3 hrs. Although, why 3 hours ?
    Thanks, very much for sharing this with us!
    Best ,

  18. Norma says

    thanks for this recipe, it is my favorite. I made this this morning with my garden tomatoes and basil and the rest of the vegetables local grown. Doesn’t get any better than that. Love your recipes keep them coming.

    • says

      Thank you, Norma. Means so much to hear this. Love this one, too…this is the time of year for it, right?! Our tomato plants were so good to us this year.

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