This video is unavailable because we were unable to load a message from our sponsors.

If you are using ad-blocking software, please disable it and reload the page.
Playing How to Make Cream-Free Tomato Bisque with Parmesan Croutons | Christopher Kimball

Milk Street's Christopher Kimball shares his creamy tomato bisque without any cream (the secret is bread!) from his new cookbook, Milk Street: Cook What You Have

"In our grown-up twist on that childhood favorite—a bowl of creamy tomato soup with grilled cheese for dipping—we created a silky bisque and serve it topped with crisp Parmesan croutons in place of a sandwich. Rather than thicken the soup with heavy cream, we simmer pieces of torn bread in the tomato broth, then blend everything to produce a satisfying soup with a velvety texture. Canned crushed tomatoes keep prep time to a minimum." —Christopher 

For another recipe from Christopher, check out his Spinach, Ham and Cheese Strata.


  • 4 tablespoons salted butter, cut into 1-tablespoon pieces, divided
  • 5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 8 ounces country-style white bread, crusts removed, torn into bite-sized pieces (about 6 cups), divided
  • ¾ teaspoon dried thyme OR dried oregano, divided
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 1 ounce Parmesan OR pecorino Romano cheese, finely grated (½ cup), plus more to serve
  • 1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 2 medium garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
  • One 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes


Serves: 4


In a large pot over medium-high heat, melt 2 tablespoons butter with 2 tablespoons oil. Set aside 1 ½ cups torn bread for thickening the soup. Add the remaining bread, ½ teaspoon thyme, ¼ teaspoon each salt and black pepper, and the pepper flakes (if using) to the pot. Cook, stirring occasionally and lowering the heat as needed to prevent the seasonings from burning, until the bread is golden brown, 2 to 4 minutes. Transfer to a large plate, toss with the Parmesan and spread in a single layer. Set aside to cool and crisp. 

In the same pot over medium, melt the remaining 2 tablespoons butter. Add the onion, garlic, ½ teaspoon salt and the remaining ¼ teaspoon thyme; cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is translucent but not browned, 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes, the 1 ½ cups reserved bread and 4 cups water. Cook, uncovered and stirring occasionally, until the bread is completely soft and the broth is slightly thickened, about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and cool for about 5 minutes.  

Using a blender and working in batches so the jar is never more than half full, puree the tomato mixture, streaming in the remaining 3 tablespoons oil, until smooth. Return the soup to the pot. (Alternatively, if you own an immersion blender, puree the soup directly in the pot; when almost smooth, slowly stream in the remaining 3 tablespoons oil while blending.) Cook over medium-low, stirring often, until heated through, 2 to 5 minutes. Thin the soup with water, if needed, to reach the desired consistency. 

Off heat, taste and season with salt and black pepper. Serve topped with the croutons and basil pesto (if using) and sprinkled with additional Parmesan.

Excerpted from Milk Street: Cook What You Have by Christopher Kimball. Copyright © 2022 by Christopher Kimball. Used with permission by Voracious. All rights reserved.