Spring is here and it’s soup season! Wait, what? I know most people think soup is best served in fall and winter but warmer weather’s no reason to put soup on the back burner. I love a good soup (receipts here, here and here and I especially love tucking into steaming bowls of bisque and chowder. Or chowder and bisque. Bisque vs chowder. What’s the difference?
Bisque vs Chowder
Traditionally bisques are soups typicallly made with shellfish cooked in a flavored liquid then pureed. Over time the shellfish requirement has loosened and any thick soup – even those without it – are sometimes referred to as bisques. Bisques are known for their thick, creamy texture and rich flavor. Chowders are also characterized by a thick consistency, but unlike bisques they’re not puréed. They’re chock full of chunky seafood, potatoes or other vegetables.
Creamy Tomato Bisque
Tomato bisque is my all-time favorite non-seafood bisque. It’s like the canned tomato soup of my youth on tomato-y steroids – super rich, super creamy, super delicious. More often than not when I make this soup I use canned diced tomatoes because my tomato bisque craving doesn’t always coincide with tomato season. If you’re lucky enough to have a bunch of gorgeous ripe, fresh tomatoes you can absolutely replace the canned tomatoes with fresh.
I use 2 28-oz cans of diced tomatoes for a batch of this Creamy Tomato Bisque, which translates to about 4 pounds of fresh tomatoes. Dice them and save the juices, too. This makes a big batch of soup – about 8 cups – but feel free to make a half batch for a smaller crowd.
Place a kitchen towel over the lid of the blender before blending. The towel will protect you from burns if any of the hot soup escapes the top of the blender.
Don’t let the soup boil once you’ve added the cream. If the cream gets too hot it can curdle.
Large, Heavy-Bottomed Pot
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 medium carrot, peeled and chopped
- 1 stalk celery, chopped
- 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
- 2 28-oz cans diced tomatoes
- 4 cups chicken stock
- 1 cup heavy cream
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Heat butter and olive oil in large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat. Add onion, garlic, carrot and celery. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onion begins to soften, about 1 minute. Stir in red pepper flakes and cumin and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until spices are fragrant and vegetables continue to soften, another 3-5 minutes.
- Add tomatoes and cook until heated through, 2-3 minutes. Add chicken stock and bring it to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer soup 20-25 minutes, stirring occasionally. Carefully ladle the soup into a blender and process until smooth. Pour soup back into pot over medium low heat and stir in cream.
- Season to taste and enjoy!