Semi-Homemade Tomato Bisque Recipe

I was 30 before I had ever heard of a version of tomato soup that wasn’t Cambell’s Condensed Soup. I especially love a chunky tomato bisque. But who has the time to make a bisque from scratch? Fortunately, there is a really easy cheat to turn ordinary condensed soup into velvety bisque. This semi-homemade tomato bisque will fool your family and your taste-buds into thinking you made this meal from scratch.

Semi-homemade tomato bisque

The best part is that this semi-homemade recipe is cheaper than making bisque from scratch. Made from scratch, tomato bisque would require a pound of tomatoes. Fresh tomatoes can go for as much as $4/lb, while a can of Cambell’s Condensed Soup costs a dollar and a half. If you go with store brand, it’s even cheaper. The Kroger Value brand is just $.69. That’s half the price of even the cheapest tomatoes in the store.

Tomato Soup vs Tomato Bisque

For a long time, I was confused by the difference between a tomato soup and a tomato bisque. It turns out, not much. A bisque is a cream-based soup, while most other soups are water/broth based. However, in my family, we always added milk to our condensed tomato soup, which made it more like a bisque. But a true bisque will use cream instead of milk to make it thicker.

A bisque was originally a cream-based shellfish soup from France. The term “bisque” comes from bis cuites meaning “twice cooked” since the shellfish were first sauteed and then simmered in the broth. So I guess a twice-baked potato would be a bis quites potato. :) The soup was then strained and rice added as a thickening agent. Eventually, the term came to mean any cream-based soup such as tomato or squash.

Since a bisque is a creamy soup, why did I describe this semi-homemade recipe as a chunky bisque? Because I like it that way. When making a tomato bisque from scratch, you would puree the tomatoes into a smooth, creamy consistency. But some people, myself included, prefer chunky foods. Chunky applesauce, chunky peanut butter, chunky mashed potatoes, and chunky soup. Contrary to popular thought, those foods aren’t made chunky by pureeing them less. Instead, they are made by pureeing completely, but setting some pieces aside to be mixed in later.

It is the same way with this semi-homemade tomato bisque. Only the good folks at Campbells have already done the pureeing, you just need to add some tomatoes that you bought separately.

5.0 from 1 reviews
Semi-Homemade Tomato Bisque Recipe
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: Soup
Cuisine: American
Serves: 2
  • 1 Can condensed tomato soup
  • 2 cups cream
  • 1 roma tomato
  • 1 Tbsp basil, chopped
  1. Pour condensed soup and cream into small saucepan and heat over low heat. Simmer for 10 minutes until hot.
  2. Dice tomato into ½ inch pieces. Stir into soup.
  3. Spoon soup into 2 bowls. Sprinkle basil over top

Other options include frying some bacon to mix in, sprinkling some mild cheddar over the top, or adding rice as is sometimes found in a traditional bisque.


Recipe Sunday: “Semi-homemade” Spaghetti Sauce

Premium spaghetti sauce can cost as much as $5 per jar.  Store brands typically have very little flavor. Making your own costs just as much as a premium sauce if you have to buy all the ingredients and takes forever.  But there is another option: semi-homemade.

Popularized by Food Network personality Sandra Lee, semi-homemade is the place in between straight-up store bought and quick mixes on one side, and making from scratch on the other. It’s the process of making terrific dishes from mixes and generics by adding a touch of homemade.  My pudding frosted cake is one example. This spaghetti sauce is another.

Tomato sauce

Tomato sauce (Photo credit: Aelle)

5.0 from 1 reviews
Recipe Sunday: "Semi-homemade" Spaghetti Sauce
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
A quick spaghetti sauce done by the time the pasta is finished cooking
Recipe type: Sauce
  • 1 can (or jar) generic spaghetti sauce
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 small onion, minced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp oregano
  • 1 Tbsp basil
  • ¼ c. Parmesan cheese
  • salt & pepper to taste
  1. In non-stick skillet, heat olive oil.
  2. Mince onion & garlic and add to pan. Saute until onion begins to turn translucent.
  3. Pour sauce into large saucepan. Stir in all ingredients.
  4. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to a simmer.
  5. Cover and cook for 5 minutes.


It’s that easy! Enjoy!


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