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Why does my tomato soup not taste like tomato?

There are a few common reasons why homemade or canned tomato soup may lack that bright, rich tomatoey flavor we all crave:

Not Enough Tomatoes

Tomato soup gets its signature flavor from fresh tomatoes. If you don’t add enough tomatoes or tomato paste, the soup can end up tasting more like seasoned broth than tomato soup. For rich tomato flavor, you need to use at least 2-3 pounds of fresh tomatoes or several tablespoons of tomato paste per batch of soup. Don’t skimp on the main ingredient!

Using Out of Season Tomatoes

Tomatoes are a summer crop and their flavor significantly declines when not in season. Winter tomatoes often lack complexity, sweetness and have more bitterness. Make tomato soup with peak season, fresh tomatoes during summer months or use canned diced tomatoes or tomato paste which were processed at the height of freshness.


Cooking tomatoes for too long, especially at high heat, can destroy their delicate flavor compounds and cause the soup to taste more bitter. Cook tomatoes just until softened, about 10 minutes for fresh or 2-3 minutes for canned. Avoid boiling or simmering for too long.

Not Enough Fat

Tomatoes are fat soluble and pairing them with a fat helps extract their flavor. Make sure to sauté aromatics in olive oil and finish the soup with cream or half and half. The added richness helps bring out the sweet, tart tomato notes.

Masking Flavors

Aggressive spices and herbs can easily smother the taste of tomatoes. Avoid over-seasoning with ingredients like garlic, onion and basil. Let the tomato flavor shine through.

Troubleshooting Tomato Soup

If your tomato soup lacks that classic flavor, try these troubleshooting tips:

Add More Tomatoes

For the best tomato taste, use fresh tomatoes whenever possible. Simmer a few extra chopped tomatoes into the finished soup until you achieve the desired tomato intensity. Canned diced tomatoes can also provide a flavor boost.

Increase Umami

Adding ingredients high in natural umami or glutamates can enhance the savory tomato notes. Try a teaspoon of soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, tomato paste, mushrooms or a parmesan rind.

Brighten with Acid

A splash of lemon juice or vinegar cuts bitterness and makes tomato sweetness pop. Add a tablespoon at a time until suitably brightened.

Finish with Sugar

A pinch of white or brown sugar balances acidity and brings out the natural sweetness of ripe tomatoes. Stir in to taste at the end.

Garnish with Fresh Herbs

Chopped basil, parsley or dill adds a final punch of freshness. Avoid dried herbs which tend to taste musty.

Splash in Cream

For milder, sweeter tomato flavor, swirl in a tablespoon or two of heavy cream, half and half or creme fraiche at the end. The milk fat helps mellow, blend and amplify flavors.

Ways to Boost Tomato Flavor

Here are some tips to help maximize that fresh tomato taste before you even start cooking:

Choose Ripe Tomatoes

Pick fully ripened tomatoes with rich color. Avoid pinkish, pale tomatoes which are under ripe and taste bland. Heirloom and beefsteak varieties offer greater complexity.

Ditch the Seeds and Gel

The jelly, seeds and membranes inside tomatoes contain higher acidity and bitterness. For sweeter flavor, seed and core fresh tomatoes.

Roast the Tomatoes

Dry roasting concentrates sugars and enhances umami. Roast tomatoes in a 400F oven for 15-20 minutes before using.

Add Marinara Sauce

Use marinara sauce instead of canned tomato soup as the base. The herbs, garlic, onion and olive oil boost flavor.

Infuse with Basil

Make a basil oil by blending basil leaves with olive oil. Infuse into the soup for intense herbal flavor.

Deglaze with Wine

Sauté aromatics in a pan, then deglaze with red wine before adding tomatoes. The alcohol extracts flavors.

Tomato Soup Recipe

For the best homemade tomato soup, try this recipe highlighting fresh tomatoes and basil:


  • 3 lbs ripe tomatoes, cored and quartered
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cups vegetable or chicken broth
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil, plus more for garnish
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. In a large pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and cook for 5 minutes until translucent.
  2. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute until fragrant. Add the quartered tomatoes, broth, butter, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil.
  3. Reduce heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes until tomatoes are very soft and falling apart.
  4. Carefully transfer tomato mixture to a blender. Add chopped basil. Puree until smooth.
  5. Return soup to pot and stir in heavy cream. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed.
  6. Garnish bowls of soup with fresh basil. Serve warm.

Tomato Soup Pairings

Tomato soup sings when served alongside complementary foods like:

Grilled Cheese Sandwich

A classic! The sweet tomato soup paired with crispy, gooey grilled cheese is hard to top.

BLT Sandwich

Crunchy, smoky bacon is a perfect match for freshly made tomato soup.


Buttery, garlic-infused croutons add terrific texture and flavor contrast.

Crouton Flavor Preparation Method
Classic Buttered Toss cubed bread in melted butter, salt and pepper. Bake.
Garlic Parmesan Toss cubed bread in melted butter mixed with minced garlic and grated parmesan. Bake.
Herbed Toss cubed bread in melted butter and dried herbs like basil, oregano or thyme. Bake.
Bacon Toss cubed bread in bacon fat leftover from cooking bacon. Bake.

Bread Bowl

Tearing into a freshly baked bread bowl filled with tomato soup is an unmatched experience.


Bite sized beef or turkey meatballs make a hearty addition.


Cheese-filled quesadillas dipped into tomato soup make an easy, tasty lunch.

Mac and Cheese

Pair tomato soup with gooey, creamy mac and cheese for an ultimate comfort food meal.

Pesto Drizzle

Nutty basil pesto swirled into the soup adds herbal complexity and richness.

Storing and Freezing Tomato Soup

To save your homemade tomato soup for later:


  • Allow soup to cool completely before storing.
  • Transfer to airtight containers, leaving 1 inch of headspace.
  • Refrigerate for 3-5 days.
  • Freeze for 2-3 months.


  • If refrigerated, reheat gently on the stovetop or in the microwave.
  • If frozen, thaw overnight in the fridge before reheating.
  • Add milk or cream to thin out if too thick.
  • Taste and re-season as needed.
  • Garnish with fresh basil before serving.

Frequently Asked Tomato Soup Questions

Here are answers to some common tomato soup FAQs:

Why is my tomato soup bitter?

Overcooked or underripe tomatoes can cause bitterness. Add a pinch of sugar to balance the flavor. Acidic ingredients like lemon juice can also help mask bitterness.

Why is my tomato soup watery?

Excess liquid is often caused by not reducing the soup properly to thicken it. Simmer the soup uncovered for longer to allow moisture to evaporate. You can also add a slurry of cornstarch mixed with water to bind the soup.

Can you freeze tomato soup?

Yes, tomato soup freezes very well for 2-3 months. Let it cool fully before transferring to airtight freezer containers. Thaw overnight in the fridge before reheating gently.

Can tomato soup be canned?

Tomato soup can be canned using a pressure canner. This helps extend shelf life by killing bacteria. Follow proper canning techniques carefully to prevent risk of botulism poisoning. Refrigeration or freezing are safer options.

Is tomato soup gluten free?

Plain tomato soup made with gluten free ingredients like tomatoes, vegetables, chicken broth and cream is inherently gluten free. As always, check labels on stocks and creams for gluten-containing additives. Avoid flour as a thickener.


When tomato soup falls flat, there are many troubleshooting techniques you can try to revive that classic flavors – add more tomatoes, incorporate umami-rich ingredients, brighten with acidity and layer in herbs and cream. Follow a recipe that highlights fresh, ripe tomatoes and their natural sweetness. With a few simple tweaks and quality ingredients, you can bring out the best tomato taste in every bowl of comforting soup.