You've never had tomato soup like this before

With harissa, coconut milk and spices galore, this version takes the classic iteration to a whole different realm

By Michael La Corte

Deputy Food Editor

Published April 20, 2024 12:01PM (EDT)

Tomato Soup (Getty Images/Dorling Kindersley: Dave King)
Tomato Soup (Getty Images/Dorling Kindersley: Dave King)

Tomato soup is one of those true emblems of comfort food. Typically a can of Campbell's tomato, a touch of water, a stove, a pot, a spoon and a bowl is all you need  plus maybe some Saltines or, of course, a grilled cheese.

There may be no other dish more singularly nourishing and reassuring.

For years and years, I’ve tried to make a homemade iteration that had the same essence as Campbell’s  to no avail.

After chasing and chasing that ephemera with umpteen attempts, I decided to go in a different direction and not attempt to mimic that cherished, perfect flavor, but instead embrace it and use that base to build on, to deepen and to further explore different flavors with.

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This soup takes no more than an hour, is perfect for a rainy day and will be fitting for practically anyone you serve it to: It’s devoid of dairy, gluten or any animal products. It does have coconut milk, so if you’re allergic and/or avoiding tree nuts, just leave that out or use a different milk alternative instead. 

So grab some sleeves of Saltines or crank up your skillet to cook up some grilled cheeses, because this soup is unmissable. Beware: You might lick the bowl clean.

Tomato soup with harissa and coconut milk
8 servings
Prep Time
10 minutes
Cook Time
45 minutes


Ghee, coconut oil, or neutral oil, such as safflower or grapeseed

2 onions, peeled and chopped

2 shallots, peeled and chopped

5 garlic cloves, peeled and minced

2 to 3 tablespoons tomato paste

4 to 6 tomatoes, cored and chopped

2 cans or boxes of pureed, strained or crushed tomatoes (26 ounce boxes or 28 ounce cans both work)

2 cups vegetable broth

3 to 4 tablespoons harissa

1/2 can coconut milk

Kosher salt, to taste

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Dried basil, to taste

Cumin, to taste

Sumac, to taste

Paprika, to taste

Sundried tomato oil, optional




  1. Heat a large pot over medium heat. Add cooking fat of your choosing, plus onions. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring, until tender.
  2. Add shallots and garlic and cook for a minute or two.
  3. Add tomato paste, stir well and let slightly caramelize for about 3 to 5 minutes.
  4. Add chopped tomatoes, stir and cook for another 5 minutes.
  5. Add canned or boxed tomatoes and vegetable broth, stirring well and raise heat to medium-high. Bring to a boil and reduce to simmer.
  6. Add harissa and coconut milk. Stir. Cook for 15 minutes.
  7. Carefully, transfer to a VitaMix, blender or food processor (possibly in batches, depending on size) and blend until smooth. Conversely, use an immersion blender.
  8. Return to pot.
  9. Add all seasonings, stirring, tasting until you've reached your desired consistency and flavor.
  10. Serve hot. 

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Cook's Notes

-I used ghee, but if you want no animal product in your soup at all, then any oil will be fine.

-I used Roma tomatoes here but whatever tomato you can get your hands on should be A-okay.

-Harissa can have some real bite, so use some discretion. I am not a spicy person in any capacity, but I love harissa because it offers a bit more of a nuanced heat with some deep flavor. Feel free to omit if you're not a spice person at all.

-If you have nut sensitivities, try oat or almond milk (unsweetened, please) instead of coconut. 

By Michael La Corte

Michael is a food writer, recipe editor and educator based in his beloved New Jersey. After graduating from the Institute of Culinary Education in New York City, he worked in restaurants, catering and supper clubs before pivoting to food journalism and recipe development. He also holds a BA in psychology and literature from Pace University.

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