Roasted Tomato & Sourdough Soup

If you have both tomatoes and sourdough on hand, consider this. A spicy, saffron-smacked take on pappa al pomodoro, the bread-thickened Tuscan classic. A spicy, saffron-smacked take on pappa al pomodoro, the bread-thickened Tuscan classic.

Roasted Tomato & Sourdough Soup

There are two things we have in spades right now - ripe tomatoes and sourdough bread. Inevitably, this time of year the variations on tomato soups and sauces coming out of the kitchen are many. The other night, I made this. Walking into the kitchen, I imagined building on the idea behind pappa al pomodoro, the tomato-centric, bread-thickened Tuscan classic. We ended up sitting down to a spicy, saffron-smacked stew with a tomato and sourdough foundation dotted with chickpeas. It was a big hit, so I made it again the next day so I could shoot and share it here. If there's a place where summer eating meets comfort food, this is it.
Roasted Tomato & Sourdough Soup Recipe

The tomatoes!

Let's talk details. Your choice in tomatoes here is key. It's the flavor base of this soup. Go for the most flavorful, ripe, in-season tomatoes you can get your hands on. Ugly or not-perfect is fine, they're going to get roasted and blitzed anyway. I save my cherry tomatoes for other uses - salads, roasting, pastas, etc. and opt for medium-sized varietals like Early Girl or San Marzano instead.  
Roasted Tomato & Sourdough Soup Recipe

Roasting For Flavor

Here's roughly what your tomatoes, onions, and garlic should look like after roasting (below). I put the onions and garlic on their own baking sheet in case they cook faster. It makes it easier for you to remove them early if needed. You can certainly do a version of this soup without roasting, but the depth of flavor you get from this extra step is worth it.
Roasted Tomato & Sourdough Soup Recipe

The Bread Component

Our "house" sourdough bread is ~60 % whole wheat / rye flour blend, plus a good amount of cooked quinoa. It's quite hearty and wholesome, and it's great here. I use heartier whole-grain sourdoughs in soups like this one, or bread-thickened ribollita all the time. I think people worry that they need to use a white loaf (like a ciabatta or "Italian" bread), but you can totally experiment. It might not be typical, but it can be tasty (and more nutritious).  
Roasted Tomato & Sourdough Soup Recipe


I was craving something invigoratingly spicy when I threw this together the other night. I was after a straight, direct shot of tomato & spice. That's why you see a good dose of cayenne in the recipe. I added a bit of saffron because tomatoes and saffron are one of my favorite flavor combinations. That said, there are (of course) endless other directions you could explore! For example: 

  • A more classic flavor profile: dial back the spices, turn up the basil.
  • Add a dollop of harissa instead of cayenne.
  • Use yellow tomatoes + lots of black pepper & experiment with a turmeric-chive-garlic drizzle of some sort.
  • Use some of your corn by adding it with the chickpeas. And for the experimenting bread bakers out there - how about a sourdough with a percentage of cornmeal, whole corn, etc in the bread slot? I'd use something other than a quick bread style cornbread (not enough structure when it hits the soup). 

Roasted Tomato & Sourdough Soup Recipe

It's wild how in my garden there will be a blast of tomatoes for a few weeks and then it's over in a flash. If you're looking for other ways to put a dent in your tomato supply right now - some ideas. Try to make the most of them while they're here. Try a fresh version of this tomato sauce. Use them in a tomato tart. Make this favorite salsa. Or load them into a coleslaw. xx - h

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Roasted Tomato & Sourdough Soup

4.84 from 6 votes

  • 1 1/2 pounds ripe tomatoes, quartered and cored
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 fine grain sea salt, plus more to taste
  • scant 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • pinch of saffron (optional)
  • 4 ounces day-old sourdough bread, crusts removed, cut into 1-inch cubes (about 2 cups)
  • 1 cup cooked chickpeas
  • basil, to serve, thinly sliced
  1. Preheat oven to 425F. With a rack in the center.
  2. Ideally, you’ll want two baking sheets here. Arrange the tomatoes and garlic in a single layer across one. And then arrange the onion across the other. Sprinkle the salt across both and drizzle with the olive oil. Toss well, and place in the oven to roast for 35-45 minutes, or until the onions are golden, and the tomatoes have released their liquids and concentrated a bit. Remove from the oven.

  3. Transfer the tomatoes and garlic to a soup pot, and use a hand blender to pulse a few times. You don’t want the tomatoes completely smooth, go for a slightly rustic texture. You’re done with the hand blender, so you can put it away. Stir in the onions and four cups of water. Bring to a simmer over medium high heat and stir in the cayenne and saffron. Taste, and season with more salt at this point to your liking. Stir in the bread and chickpeas and bring back to a simmer for 10 minutes or so, gently stirring now and then along the way.

  4. Serve topped with the basil and a drizzle of good olive oil.

Serves 4

Prep Time
5 mins
Cook Time
1 hr
Total Time
1 hr 5 mins
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I have a question about coring tomatoes for the ROASTED TOMS AND SOURDOUGH soup. I just cooked and it is delicious – with saron and Indian chilli paste and brown sourdough bread yum. However – I just quartered the tomatoes and roasted – I did not CORE them as I didn’t realise what this was at first – and then it seemed a waste to remove the seeds and liquids – only to bulk back up with water later on. Is this step for texture? Surely tomatoes juice is better than extra water in this recipe? OR is this like why the Ribollita recipe on Bon Appettit recommends squeezing the juice out of canned tomatoes before cooking them – so they lose their rawness better without liquid. Love to understand WHY5 stars

rebecca frankel

    Hi Rebecca – Apologies if I wasn’t clear. When I say “core” – that just means cutting out that stiff white area at the top of the tomato, where the stem was. For this recipe I left the seeds & juices in. And yes, agreed, I love the flavor of the tomato juice, and sometimes make a simple broth with just the juices.

    Heidi Swanson

As far as I can see, I am not ably to ‘reply to your reply’ ~
Just wanted to report back with an example of how, yes, you inspire many marvelous riffs: today I made a variation of your Five Herb Pesto, but had on hand toasted almonds (whole), celery leaves, coriander leaves and stems (lots), a tough, bitter, short lettuce (don’t know the name), chives, garlic, and preserved lemon (homemade, so probably not as salty as commercial kinds). It was magnificent.
That is just one illustration of what your site inspires.
There is something so dreamy about this site – which, at least for me, at once transports me, provides comfort, and inspires. Thank you!


Just stopping by to say I am so glad that you are still blogging and really enjoy all of the posts, including this one ~ what a heavenly way to use up some tomatoes.
Also, I enjoyed those update posts where you included reader comments with your thoughts. Whenever I am unsure of a recipe on the net, I read through the comments – and from a pedagogical view (learning to make something), it also brings additional depth!
I also got a vision of your next cookbook as including other voices alongside your own. In addition to being a great cook, blogger, writer, photographer – and YouTuber, you are a talented curator (cf. the reader comments and the links you used to share)!
Your recipes are so inspiring. As an expat in a corner of the world without many of these ingredients I find that I can still be inspired by reading through them. Thank you Heidi!


    Thanks for such a sweet comment Greta. And hopefully you are able to riff a bit on some of the recipes based on the ingredients in your part of the world. Thanks for taking the time to write.

    Heidi Swanson

This looks amazing. Can you also share your “house” sourdough ?5 stars

Ashley Eller

    Hi Ashley, yes! Someday I will write it up. I actually have a good number of sourdough threads running through my kitchen beyond loaves. That said, I feel like writing about sourdough is its own beast & I still have a lot to learn. xx

    Heidi Swanson

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