The Soup Blog
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Yes We Can: Tomato, Basil & Sausage Soup
Categories: Herbs, Pork, Tomatoes

Yes We Can!

When I was a kid, the go-to tomato soup was a can of Campbell’s. We’d slop the contents into a pot, fill the empty can with water, add it to the pot and heat.

Okay, I didn’t do any of that. My mom did.

She’d also make us grilled cheese sandwiches on the broiler while we added the finishing touch of crumbled saltines. Of course, the soup to saltine ratio varied. Some preferred equal volumes of each, some just a sprinkling of cracker dust. Whichever way you liked it, the meal was simple and good. Not terribly sophisticated, but then neither were we.

Today’s kids aren’t any more sophisticated than we were, but their parents are. That’s why the current tomato soup of choice is the more full flavored tomato basil. It’s on just about every menu in town and kids love it, which is another way of saying they’ll eat it.

That’s a good thing.

As far as the tomatoes used for these soups, it wasn’t much of an issue for me as a kid.  True, we grew our own tomatoes out there in California, which I enjoyed with a nice slathering of mayonnaise, but I don’t remember using them in any kind of cooking. We ate them raw—in salads, sandwiches and by themselves.

Granted, with my boyish memory, what I remember most about our tomatoes was the hornworms that we’d pick off the plants. They wreaked havoc on the tomato leaves and although they got up to several inches long they still weren’t all that easy to find.

The tomatoes we grew were mostly beefsteaks and cherries but they were delicious, even more so than the high-priced heirloom varieties that will make their way into the stores in a few months.

That’s when I’m supposed to start thinking about tomato soup—when they’re actually in season. But I couldn’t help myself. I had this package of Italian sausage I wanted to use and Tomato, Basil & Sausage soup seemed like a great way to get rid of it.

So despite my excitement about the summer weather that has finally arrived here in the Midwest  (not counting today), I pulled this week’s soup out of the pantry. As soon as the farmer’s markets open up here, I’ll go all in for fresh vegetables, but for now, as it was in my childhood, getting stuff out of a can isn’t so bad.

In fact, it’s probably more PC than buying fresh tomatoes that have been shipped across international borders to get here. Canned food is food that has been preserved at the peak of its flavor (In theory), so why not use it? Especially when Costco sells cans of organic diced tomatoes.

The soup went something like this: I sautéed some onions in oil along with a pound of sausage, tossed in a little garlic, tomatoes, stock, basil and seasoning and that was about it.

And did my kids like it? You bet. Except for the big chunks of sausage they left at the bottom of their bowls, which meant there was more for me.

Everybody won, maybe even you. Because I canned the leftover soup, it just might find its way under your tree this Christmas.

Happy Holidays!  Memorial Day, Xmas, whatever.

Tomato, Basil & Sausage Soup
(serves 4-6)
1 T canola oil
2 small onions, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 lb Italian sausage, sliced and chopped (I skinned them first, but that’s your call)
4 14 ½ ounce cans diced tomatoes (or 3 lbs fresh tomatoes, chopped)
4 cups stock
¼ cup dried (or ¾ cup fresh)
salt & pepper to taste
Parmesan cheese (optional)

  1. Heat the oil on medium in a 3-5 quart soup pot and sauté the onions and sausages until slightly brown. Then remove the sausages.
  2. Add the garlic to the pan and sauté for a few minutes (don’t burn them).
  3. Add tomatoes, stock, basil and seasonings to the pot, bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer for 30-45 minutes.
  4. Puree the soup with an immersion blender, add the sausage back to the pot and heat through.
  5. Serve warm with the optional sprinkles of parmesan on top.  It’s great al fresco food and goes great with most anything that comes off the grill.

Image Credit: “Hoping For Soup,” with apologies from the author.

What tomatoes do you like using for soup?  Romas seem like the obvious choice for an Italian Tomato soup, but what about something hardy and American?  Let me know what you would do?


2 Comments to “Yes We Can: Tomato, Basil & Sausage Soup”

  1. Uncle Don says:

    Phil, is there a simple substitute for stock?

    Please excuse the saliva.

    Uncle Don

  2. Jane says:


    Could you describe how you make stock in your blog?

    Here’s what I do: I save all the bones from chicken I make, freeze them in plastic bags. When I’ve collected a big pile, I dump them into a huge pot, cover the bones with water, heat to boil, then simmer for about 4 or 5 hours. It gets seasoned by whatever seasoning is in the chicken I’ve cooked.

    Is it really necessary to add vegetables and spices to the stock? I don’t have time for that, and the stock tastes fine as it is. I use it for cooking vegetables, rice, making soup, etc.