Slow Cooker Recipe: Tomato Soup

April 28, 2014

Slow Cooker Recipe: Tomato Soup from Scratch (plus Grilled Cheese with Pesto)   |   Design Mom  #crockpot

By Gabrielle. Photos by Lindsey of Café Johnsonia.

[ Update: Grilled Cheese with Pesto recipe added. ]

When I lived in New York, my friend Sara invited me to lunch at her house, and while we chatted she made grilled cheese sandwiches and warmed up a yummy box of tomato soup from Trader Joes. I adore this meal. It’s on my list of comfort meals for sure. But until Sara served it to me, I had considered it too plebian or boring for guests.

Slow Cooker Recipe: Tomato Soup from Scratch (plus Grilled Cheese with Pesto)   |   Design Mom  #crockpot

I had a lovely shift in thinking that day. Why wouldn’t I serve this comforting, beloved meal? And why stress out about a fancy meal, when I can be relaxed and enjoy my company — and serve a known crowd-pleaser at the same time? All of sudden, I could invite people over for lunch and it didn’t have to be a big deal. Which means I was more likely to invite someone over in the first place!

Slow Cooker Recipe: Tomato Soup from Scratch (plus Grilled Cheese with Pesto)   |   Design Mom  #crockpot

I hope it’s safe to say, most people love tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches. It’s definitely a favorite around our house. I can tell you I truly don’t raise my eyebrows at boxed soup, but in an effort to eat more whole foods, we have been trying to make more things from scratch. So for today’s recipe in my Slow Cooker Series, it’s all about Homemade Tomato Soup. That said, this soup is made with canned tomatoes. : ) Once summertime arrives, you can switch out fresh-from-the garden tomatoes. But for now this works. It’s pretty much one of those put everything into the slow cooker kinds of recipes, set it and forget it.

I’m always feeding a crowd, so I included a recipe to feed 10-12. If you have a smaller family, don’t worry, just halve all of the ingredients. However, I will say the leftovers don’t go to waste! They are great to send in a lunch box or pull out for a quick meal the next day.

Slow Cooker Recipe: Tomato Soup from Scratch (plus Grilled Cheese with Pesto)   |   Design Mom  #crockpot

Slow Cooker Tomato Basil Soup
Adapted slightly from Big Girls, Small Kitchen.
Makes 10-12 servings

Ingredients:
3 large carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
2 celery stalks, diced
2 medium sweet onions, roughly chopped
4 cloves garlic, peeled and left whole
2-3 teaspoons salt (start with less and add to taste)
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
4 (28-ounce) cans whole peeled tomatoes
1 quart low-sodium organic free-range chicken broth
1/4 to 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped, plus more for garnish
half and half or heavy cream (optional)
Freshly grated Parmesan (for garnish, optional)

Slow cooker Version:
Place all of the ingredients, except for half and half and Parmesan into a very large slow cooker. Top with the lid and cook on high for 4 hours or low for 5-7 hours. The vegetables should be very soft at that point. If not, cook for another hour or so.

Use an immersion blender to puree the soup. Alternatively, work in batches and puree soup in traditional blender. Be extra careful and don’t fill the blender too full, or it will splatter and escape from the lid.

To the pureed soup, add the half and half. Taste and add more salt and pepper, if needed. Ladle into bowl and sprinkle with freshly grated Parmesan and extra basil.

Serve with biscuits, hot rolls, grilled cheese sandwiches, or breadsticks and a large green salad.

Stove-top Version:

Combine all ingredients in a heavy lidded pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, then turn heat down to low, and simmer, covered, for about 2 hours, until flavors are blended and vegetables are soft. Allow the soup to cool slightly. Then puree in batches in a blender until very smooth. If you like a thinner consistency, add a little bit more stock or water. Serve immediately, or transfer the soup back to the pot and keep on low until your guests arrive.

Garnish with more fresh basil and some grated Parmesan cheese.

Slow Cooker Recipe: Tomato Soup from Scratch (plus Grilled Cheese with Pesto)   |   Design Mom  #crockpot

Pesto Grilled Cheese Sandwich
To make about 6-8 sandwiches

Note – this pesto has much less oil than traditional recipes so it doesn’t saturate through the bread and make it soggy. Add just enough to make it spreadable.

Ingredients:
1 large loaf sourdough or another kind of bread, sliced
1 lb. mozzarella, sliced
Butter, for cooking
4 cups fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup pine nuts
1/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
1-2 garlic cloves
2-4 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Instructions:
1. Have a large skillet or griddle ready.

2. Prepare pesto — place basil, pine nuts, Parmigiano-Reggiano, and garlic in a food processor. Pulse until finely chopped. Add the olive oil a little at a time through the feed hole while pulsing. Scrape down sides as needed.

3. Lay all the bread slices open and place the sliced mozzarella on half of the bread slices. On the other half, spread a little of the pesto. Close the sandwiches and spread butter on the outside of every sandwich.

4. Heat the skillet or griddle to medium-high heat and cook the sandwiches until golden on each side, lowering the heat if necessary so they don’t burn. Serve immediately.

P.S. — Find all the recipes in this series here.

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{ 34 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Janssen April 28, 2014 at 12:02 pm

We just had this for lunch yesterday!

And Lindsey’s photos are always so beautiful I want to weep.

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2 Lindsey Johnson April 28, 2014 at 4:31 pm

Ha! This made my day, Janssen! Can’t wait to give you a squeeze at Alt in a few weeks. :)

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3 Design Mom April 28, 2014 at 6:46 pm

Agreed. I’m crazy lucky to be working with Lindsey.

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4 Jessie April 28, 2014 at 12:26 pm

I love that this is not a dairy-based tomato soup recipe! I find I avoid tomato soup because recipes so often use milk for a base. :)

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5 Design Mom April 28, 2014 at 6:47 pm

Oh good! I also like it because there is no added sugar. It’s sometimes hard to find a canned/boxed variety without sugar in the ingredient list.

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6 Grace@ Sense and Simplicity April 28, 2014 at 12:27 pm

Your tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches have my mouth watering. I love that combo, but have never made the soup from scratch. I so need to change that. Thanks for the recipe.

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7 Design Mom April 28, 2014 at 6:47 pm

Yay for soup from scratch!

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8 Sarah April 28, 2014 at 12:47 pm

Did you or your kids ever have an odd tomato soup encounter in France? I made it for my host family when I was living in Nantes, and the kids all said it was like watered down ketchup :( I was so surprised that there really isn’t a French equivalent, except maybe a velouté with squash or veggies.

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9 Design Mom April 28, 2014 at 6:34 pm

Good question, Sarah. I think you’re right that it doesn’t seem to be a thing there. We actually never ate in France. It was fun to bring it back into rotation when we moved to Oakland.

Now that I think about it, we ate soup (all soup) far less frequently in France than we do here.

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10 Brimful April 28, 2014 at 12:48 pm

My family just started doing crockpot on Monday nights…I think this will be our next recipe to try! Looks so good :).

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11 Design Mom April 28, 2014 at 6:34 pm

Yay! I hope the whole family loves it.

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12 Arin April 28, 2014 at 12:50 pm

Thank you, thank you! I was just trying to figure out what to make for dinner tonight–Monday is our day when after-school activities necessitate a dinner option wherein the meal is nearly ready to eat the minute we walk through the door. And what hungry kid would whine about grilled cheese and homemade tomato soup coming right up?

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13 Design Mom April 28, 2014 at 6:35 pm

Agreed! It’s a no fuss meal that pleases everybody.

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14 Summer April 28, 2014 at 1:14 pm

But….but….I want the recipe for that grilled cheese too (pesto!!). Thanks – it all looks great!

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15 Design Mom April 28, 2014 at 6:35 pm

Your wish is my command! I’ll add it to the post in just a sec.

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16 Amy3 April 28, 2014 at 1:34 pm

Tomato soup … my favorite! I have a similar recipe that I love (in fact, I’m making it this week). I’ll have to give this one a try.

And I’ll second the request for the grilled cheese recipe too. Yummy pesto!

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17 Design Mom April 28, 2014 at 6:36 pm

Grilled cheese recipe coming! Check the post in a few minutes.

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18 Jess. April 28, 2014 at 1:46 pm

This looks delicious. I love all those vegetables in the soup. It reminds me of my favorite Marcella Hazan sauce. I love tomato soup & grilled cheese so, so much. This is the recipe I usually serve to guests:
http://www.food.com/recipe/4bs-old-fashioned-cream-of-tomato-soup-153800
This soup has a [well-deserved] cult following in Montana, which is where I’m from.

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19 Design Mom April 28, 2014 at 6:36 pm

I’m definitely interested in any soup that has a cult following!

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20 Erika April 28, 2014 at 3:00 pm

One of our family favorites too!
Would love to try the pesto grilled cheese – do you have the recipe?

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21 Design Mom April 28, 2014 at 6:36 pm

Yes. For sure. Recipe coming. Check the post shortly.

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22 Lisette Wolter-McKinley April 28, 2014 at 3:51 pm

I love tomato soup and grilled cheese! Often I sauté fresh spinach and put it in my grilled cheese, but I like the idea of using pesto as an alternative.

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23 Design Mom April 28, 2014 at 6:37 pm

I don’t think I’ve ever tried spinach leaves on my grilled cheese, but it sounds delicious!

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24 Christy@SweetandSavoring April 28, 2014 at 5:16 pm

Thanks for another great recipe, Gabrielle! This is good motivation to make tomato soup from scratch for the first time! And I will echo a few other comments by saying oh my gosh, pesto grilled cheese! Yes please! :)

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25 Design Mom April 28, 2014 at 6:48 pm

Pesto Grilled Cheese recipe is now part the post. Hooray!

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26 Jane Darcy April 28, 2014 at 7:00 pm

I love reading your stories & read your blog every morning, I’m looking forward to trying this recipe. If you end up with lots of tomatoes just pop the extras in a plastic bag in the freezer, they become the perfect cooking tomatoes to use over winter. Thanks so much, you & your family are all delightful.

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27 Victoria | the Maypop April 28, 2014 at 7:19 pm

Pinning this one immediately. I love grilled cheese and tomato soup, and I’m thrilled to have a “real” recipe instead of the condensed soup and milk I usually make. Have you read Shauna Niequist’s book, Bread and Wine? This post reminds me so much of her sentiments regarding sharing simple food with family and friends. It’s a lovely read, if you haven’t checked it out. Thanks again for the recipe.

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28 sara April 29, 2014 at 9:03 pm

nice! love a shout out!!! Wish you could come to lunch tomorrow… xo

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29 Pamela May 2, 2014 at 12:08 pm

Greetings from SoCal! I love your blog. I happened across your blog the other day while browsing Joss & Main. This recipe looks delicious. What’s interesting is the added veggies in it. I have a very picky 3 going on 4 year old and I’m always trying to get more vegetables in him some kind of way. He does like soup and will eat the vegetables in a soup, but not on the plate so much. Go figure. Anyway, he might like this. Pesto on a grilled sandwich is delicious. Even my husband said it’s pretty good – and he’s picky too! There’s only three of us. If I made this, do you think I can freeze some of it?

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30 Kelly May 14, 2014 at 11:59 am

This is going on in my crock pot right now. I’m quite excited to try it out. Used veggie stock to make it vegan. It’s windy and 70 degrees here so I think it’s a great day for it. Thanks for the recipe!

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31 Nur June 17, 2014 at 2:39 am

I love this series! Please, please do go on :) This soup is in my slowcooker right now, can’t wait to go home from work and give it a try ;)

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32 Phyllis August 7, 2014 at 10:47 pm

Could you run all your veggies through the food processor prior to making the soup rather than doing after the soup is made??

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33 Jennifer D. August 13, 2014 at 9:49 am

This is the best tomato soup recipe I’ve ever made at home. Significantly better than one I tried recently that required me to roast all the ingredients in the oven before making the soup. (Granted, that one used fresh tomatoes, but this one is still so much better.) I halved the recipe because I have a family of two, and it still made enough for me to eat all week for lunch (and then some). I also changed a few ingredients based on what I had. I forgot to add Parmesan cheese, and it’s still delicious. I don’t even need a grilled cheese sandwich with it, but you know, grilled cheese & tomato soup go hand-in-hand. Thanks for this! It’s excellent.

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34 Kyra August 16, 2014 at 10:08 am

How many fresh tomatoes would you use. Say 4 – 28 ounce canned but I have lots of tomatoes in the garden.

Thanks

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