There’s nothing like hot tomato soup on a cold winter evening, especially alongside a hearty serving of crusty garlic bread.
Sometimes, tomato soup can get quite runny when you use fresh tomatoes. And everyone knows that the best tomato soup is thick and creamy, not so watery it runs off your spoon.
When that happens, how can you thicken it?
The best ways to thicken tomato soup are to cook it down, add a cornstarch slurry, use tomato paste, instant mash, heavy cream, and instant soup powder. You could even add rice or tortilla chips for extra flavor.
There is no one best method for thickening tomato soup. The ideal method is the one that is easiest for you and gives the tastiest result. When in doubt, read on to find out how to thicken your soup using each of these methods!
#1. Cook the Soup Down
Cooking the soup down is probably the most underrated method on our list. It takes a little longer than the other ways on it, that’s for sure, but it’s fail-safe and requires no extra ingredients.
To cook your tomato soup down, remove the lid on the pot and simmer the liquid on low heat, stirring every so often. What’s important is to tone down the heat to low, or the soup might stick to the bottom and burn.
You will notice the soup will become thicker—and the aromas and flavors more concentrated—as the moisture slowly but surely evaporates.
Cooking your tomato soup down means that it will have much less liquid since the water in it evaporates, but it will be thicker. It is an excellent economical method if you don’t have a thickener in your pantry.
#2. Thicken Your Soup with a Slurry
A slurry is a standard method people use to thicken sauces, soups, and stews, and it works just as well for tomato soup as it does for other dishes. You can make a slurry using generic flour or cornstarch.
We recommend cornstarch; it imparts a more pleasant flavor to your tomato soup than flour does, and it makes the soup translucent rather than opaque. At the end of the day, though, it comes down to your personal tastes and preferences, so try both and decide.
Mix 1-2 tablespoons of cornstarch or your desired flour with twice the content of water or broth. Use a 1:2 ratio of flour to water. Whisk it well to remove any lumps, and then pour it into the tomato soup, stirring for a good 1-2 minutes to incorporate it.
You will need to let your pot of tomato soup simmer for about 5-10 minutes to cook the flour or cornstarch taste in, and it will thicken within a few minutes. Depending on how large a pot of soup you have cooked, you may need to make and add more of the slurry mixture. Experiment and adjust as necessary.
#3. Add Tomato Paste to the Soup
Tomato paste is an essential ingredient in American chili. Not only does it help make a thicker sauce in chilis, but it can also thicken that pot of tomato soup you just cooked on the stove.
Add a tablespoon or two of tomato paste alongside fresh tomatoes in the cooking process. If your soup is already cooked and is runny, you can add the whole tin of tomato paste to the pot (provided it is a small one) and cook it for 5-10 minutes to meld the flavors.
The tomato paste will enhance the traditional tomato flavor that tomato soup already has. If you find the tomato paste makes your soup slightly bitter or sour, add a sprinkle (about 1 teaspoon) of sugar to balance out the acidity, and you will be pretty much good to go.
#4. Add Mashed Potatoes to the Soup
Mashed potatoes or potato flakes are two fantastic options for thickening soups, as long as you are okay to mix the flavor of tomatoes with that of spuds.
Some say it enhances the flavor and makes the dish more hearty by creating a gravy-like consistency. Others dislike this method and strongly advise that you stick to something more… tomatoey.
Mix 1-2 tablespoons (amounts will depend on how much soup you have) with 2-4 tablespoons of water or broth. Use a 1:2 ratio of mash powder to liquid. Add this mixture to your tomato soup and stir it in. You will notice your soup begin to thicken slightly. Add more of the mash mixture as needed.
The great thing about instant mash is that you don’t have to cook the soup further. You can even add the mash after removing the pot off the stove. It is a quick, convenient, and generally tasty option for those who like their tomato soup to taste like potatoes.
#5. Use Instant Soup Powder
Using instant soup powder to thicken tomato soup is similar to the instant mash method. But, as we explain below, you should only use this method if your soup isn’t salted and seasoned yet.
Use the 1:2 ratio method of soup powder to liquid with 1-2 tablespoons of instant soup with water or broth. Whisk the mixture well to ensure there are no lumps, and then add it to your soup, stirring it in. Your soup will thicken within a minute as you allow it to simmer.
Instant soup powder does contain seasoning, specifically salt, and can alter the flavor of your tomato soup. This method does require a little simmering to cook away the powdery taste of the instant soup.
#6. Thicken your Tomato Soup with Rice
Rice is a fantastic grain option to add to your tomato soup because it absorbs the liquid as it cooks and thickens the sauce. The soup becomes chili-like and gets a certain heartiness that tomatoes alone don’t have.
Pour about a quarter cup of washed uncooked rice into the soup in the last 5-10 minutes of the cooking process. The rice will cook through and absorb any excess runny liquid while leaving you a hearty, thick soup with the added texture of the grain.
The key is to stir frequently to prevent the rice from sticking to the bottom of the pot. Otherwise, it will get stuck, burn, and impart an acrid, bitter taste to the soup, effectively ruining the outcome.
You may need to add additional salt when using rice in your tomato soup and also keep watch that the rice doesn’t overcook and turn mushy or dry out your dish.
#7. Thicken Tomato Soup with Cooking Cream
Cooking cream will not only thicken your soup but will make it deliciously creamy. It typically includes heavy cream, but you can even use coconut cream.
Add about 7 ounces of heavy cream, cooking cream, or coconut cream to your pot of tomato soup and stir it well.
Let it simmer for a while for the flavors to mingle, and your soup will have a thick creaminess to it. You can start with 7 ounces, and, depending on the quantity of your soup, you can add more as needed.
The cream can alter the taste of your soup, making the flavor slightly subtle. To create the same result, you can replace regular and coconut cream with sour cream if you prefer.
You can also make a slurry using one of the cream options. Mix a tablespoon of cornstarch to your cream before adding it to the soup but make sure there are no lumps.
#8. Thicken Tomato Soup with Crushed Tortilla Chips
Tortilla chips are great for thickening your tomato soup while adding a little texture and flavor. This, by the way, is a great way to use up stale tortilla chips from last night’s bowl game.
You can cut up tortillas into small pieces and fry them till crispy. Then add them to your soup, and they will absorb excess liquid while giving your dish added texture.
You want to use this method right before serving the soup because the tortilla chips can become soggy in the dish if it stands for long.
You can use the techniques mentioned to thicken your tomato soup. Remember that adding an extra ingredient such as instant mash powder or cream will alter the taste, whereas tomato paste will enhance the traditional tomato flavor of the soup.
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