What can I add to tomato soup to thicken it?

Tomato soup is a comforting and delicious staple that can be found in many kitchens. It’s often served as a first course, paired with a grilled cheese sandwich for a classic lunch or dinner. While canned tomato soup can be quick and convenient, homemade tomato soup made from fresh ingredients takes this dish to the next level.

When making tomato soup from scratch, it’s important to achieve the right consistency. You want the soup to be thick and creamy, but not overly heavy or paste-like. Finding the perfect balance requires choosing the right thickening agent to add to the tomato base.

Thickening Tomato Soup

There are several ingredients you can use to thicken and add body to tomato soup:

  • Cream or half-and-half
  • Flour
  • Cornstarch
  • Bread
  • Potatoes
  • Beans

Each thickening agent works a bit differently and will give your soup a unique texture. Consider the pros and cons of each to determine which option suits your preferences.


Adding a splash of heavy cream or half-and-half is one of the easiest ways to thicken and enrich tomato soup. The fat content in the cream helps create a lush, velvety texture.

Be careful not to overdo it on the cream, as too much can make the soup overly rich and heavy. As a general rule, start with 2 to 4 tablespoons of cream per batch of soup and adjust to taste.


Flour is a classic thickening agent used in cooking. When flour is whisked into hot liquid, it forms a roux that thickens and binds the ingredients.

To use flour to thicken tomato soup:

  1. In a separate bowl, whisk 2-3 tablespoons of flour into cold water or milk until smooth.
  2. Gradually pour the flour mixture into the hot soup, stirring continuously.
  3. Bring to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes to eliminate any raw flour taste.

The longer the flour mixture simmers, the more it will thicken. For a very thick, gravy-like soup, increase the flour to 1/4 cup.


Like flour, cornstarch can be used to gradually thicken tomato soup as it simmers. It has a couple advantages over flour:

  • Produces a glossy, translucent finish.
  • Less likely to form lumps.

To use cornstarch, first whisk 1-2 tablespoons into cold water or milk to form a slurry. Slowly stir into hot soup until desired consistency is reached.


Stale bread blended into tomato soup is an easy way to thicken it without altering the flavor. White bread works best.

To use bread:

  1. Tear bread into small pieces.
  2. Place torn bread and tomato soup in a blender.
  3. Blend until bread is fully incorporated and soup is thickened.
  4. For a smoother texture, pass through a sieve after blending.

The starch released from the bread gives body to the soup. Two to three slices of bread is usually enough for four servings of soup.


Cooked, crushed potatoes can be used to add natural starch and thickness to tomato soup.

To use potatoes:

  1. Peel and dice 1-2 medium russet or yellow potatoes.
  2. Add potatoes to soup and simmer until very tender.
  3. Mash potatoes into the soup until the desired consistency is reached.

For even more richness, mash potatoes with a bit of butter or cream before adding to soup.


Pureeing beans into tomato soup adds fiber, protein and natural thickness. White beans, such as cannellini or great northern, work best.

To use beans:

  1. Cook 1-2 cups dried beans until very soft.
  2. Drain beans, reserving cooking liquid.
  3. Puree beans in a blender, adding reserved liquid as needed to reach a smooth consistency.
  4. Stir bean puree into tomato soup and simmer for 5-10 minutes before serving.

The starch and fiber in beans acts as a natural thickener. Start with 1/4 cup bean puree and increase as needed.

Comparison of Thickening Agents

Thickener Amount to Use Pros Cons
Cream 2-4 Tbsp Adds richness and velvety texture High fat content
Flour 2-3 Tbsp Thickens and binds ingredients Can form lumps if not stirred continuously
Cornstarch 1-2 Tbsp Produces glossy finish, less likely to lump Requires making a slurry first
Bread 2-3 slices Thickens without altering flavor Can make texture grainy if not blended finely
Potatoes 1-2 medium potatoes Adds natural starch for thickness Increases prep and cooking time
Beans 1-2 cups cooked beans Fiber and protein plus thickness Requires extra cooking and blending steps

Tips for Thickening Tomato Soup

Here are some additional tips for achieving the perfect texture when thickening tomato soup:

  • Add thickening agents slowly and gradually until desired consistency is reached.
  • Simmer the soup for 5-10 minutes after adding thickeners to allow flavors to meld.
  • Start with less thickener and add more as needed. You can always make the soup thicker but it’s hard to thin it out after over-thickening.
  • Whisk roux, slurries and purees vigorously before adding to prevent lumps.
  • If the soup gets too thick, thin it with milk, water or more tomato puree rather than cream to reduce calories.
  • For smooth purees, pass soup through a fine mesh sieve after blending.

Sample Tomato Soup Recipe

Try this recipe for creamy tomato soup thickened with potatoes:


  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 1 rib celery, sliced
  • 1 (28 oz) can crushed tomatoes
  • 2 cups vegetable or chicken broth
  • 2 medium russet potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Fresh basil, thyme or oregano (optional)
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. In a large pot, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion, garlic, carrots and celery. Cook 5 minutes.
  2. Add crushed tomatoes, broth, potatoes and bay leaf. Bring to a boil.
  3. Reduce heat and simmer 20-25 minutes until potatoes are very tender.
  4. Discard bay leaf. Use an immersion blender to puree soup to desired consistency.
  5. Stir in herbs, if using. Season with salt and pepper.
  6. If needed, thin with additional broth or milk. Serve hot.


Achieving the perfect thickness for tomato soup is key. With the right thickening agent and proper technique, you can give your homemade tomato soup a rich, velvety texture. Cream, flour, cornstarch, bread, potatoes and beans each add their own special qualities. Adjust the amount to suit your preferences and use these tips for smooth, lump-free tomato soup every time.

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