Saks Fifth Avenue Tomato-Basil Bisque

Every week we’ll post a recipe that we both made. This week’s recipe was Tomato Bisque,  found over at cdkitchen.  The printable version of the recipe is at the bottom of the page.

Robyn’s take:  

Nance chose this week’s recipe. Well, first she sent me a recipe for stuffed green pepper soup, and I was all “PASS!” and then she suggested tomato bisque and I was like “Well, I’ve never had it before. I’ll give it a try!” I even said something about expanding my horizons, which makes me a big ol’ dork.

I looked at the recipe and thought “Well, it just sounds a lot like a thick tomato soup!” and somewhere in my brain, I had the knowledge that Fred likes tomato soup, and so I thought “Well, this will be a good one.”

AU CONTRAIRE. Apparently His Majesty does not care for tomato soup, and so I could sense his resistance from the very beginning of this venture. But I forged ahead, gathered my ingredients, and made the damn stuff.

It’s fairly simple, the only difficult part was the chopping of veggies, and god knows I like me a simple recipe.


TomatoBisque (1)

Butter, onion, celery, flour, garlic, diced tomatoes, fresh basil, tomato puree, beef stock, heavy whipping cream, and a bay leaf.

Heat the butter in a large stockpot, toss in your diced celery and onion.

TomatoBisque (2)

Saute it ’til the onion is transparent. Five minutes or so, I think? One tablespoon at a time, sprinkle flour over the onion and celery, then stir in until it’s all paste-like. Add the rest of your ingredients. The recipe has annoying instructions like “stir in beef stock and tomato puree slowly”, but I just put everything in there at once, then stirred it all together. Because I am a renegade. The soup should be a rose color, says the recipe, and it was!

TomatoBisque (3)

Then you toss in your bay leaf and put the temp on low and simmer for about an hour. You might be tempted to cook on a temperature other than low. I advise against this. With the wisdom I have gained in a lifetime of “GOD, why won’t this stuff COOK, I’m going to just crank it up on high!”, let me inform you that there’s nothing tomato-based stuff loves more than to burn to the bottom of the pot. If you cook this stuff on a too-high temp, you’ll end up with a bunch of it burned to the bottom of the pot, I guarantee it. Keep it on low!

After an hour of simmering and occasional stirring, the bisque was done. I made grilled cheese sandwiches to eat with it, and I dished up bowls of the bisque for each of us.

TomatoBisque (4)

And the verdict? I liked that it was creamy and tasty, and I actually think it might be good served over a bed of rice. But I am sad to inform you that neither of us much cared for it. I wouldn’t say we hated it – if we were served it at someone else’s home, we’d eat it and we’d like it. But we wouldn’t go out of our way to make it at home, and it won’t be going into the recipe box.



Nance’s take:

Fucking Robyn refused my suggestion of Stuffed Pepper Soup for this week so I had to look up Tomato Bisque recipes.  I had never heard of tomato bisque until I went to a restaurant in Ohio and tried it (shout out to Rockne’s in Ohio).  The whole situation is weird because I don’t normally order soups and stuff like that when I’m in a restaurant (too messy – I’m extremely uncoordinated).  I thought it was so good that I wanted to try to make some at home, but I promptly forgot about it until Robyn put the kabosh on my Stuffed Pepper Soup idea.  For the record:  I hate stuffed peppers so I have no idea why I wanted to try the soup – I will be trying it one of these days, just not with the killjoy named Robyn, and I promise to record the experience.

So yeah.  I have to admit to a couple of things first.  On the day I decided to make this soup I was very unprepared.  All I know is that it was cold outside and I thought a good bowl of hot soup was the way to go.  Unfortunately, I had not been to the store and did not have the exact ingredients at hand.  A normal person would have waited.  But this is when I decided to give you the make-do experience.  What?  Everybody has to learn how to make-do with what they have in this world.  If you don’t know how to do that, you’re pathetic.  Yes, I said it.  Yes, I judged.  As my tube-top, sweatpant wearing mother would say, “You gotta make-do with what you got.”  And you sit there and wonder why my writing is so atrocious.  Table for one, Captain Obvious?


The first thing that I didn’t have was a 16 oz can of beef broth. I had to make-do with these little beef stock cups from Knorr. I remember thinking that they were ridiculously expensive and the only reason I bought them was because I had a coupon. I also remember thinking that I will not be buying them again because even with a coupon they were still too expensive. In my world, beef broth should not be expensive. But in all fairness, I suppose these little cups would be perfect if you lived in an RV (camper) and space was at a premium. So yeah, I’m technically not bashing these little cups of stock. If you have money for an RV and traveling all over the country, you would probably not cringe at the price of this stock. OHMYGAWD, can I go on any more about the goddamn stock? Shut the hell up, Nance.

I had to do some math to figure out that 2 Knorr containers equals 2 cups and 2 cups equals 16 ounces of beef broth. MATH, bitches! It makes the world go ’round. And God, please let me be right because how embarrassing would that be?

Moving on…


I had no half rib of celery (and no fresh onions), but I did have that stuff in my freezer. Interesting fact (maybe): I never knew you could freeze onions until I read a blog entry that Robyn’s husband (Fred) wrote in which he bought frozen onions one time at Publix. I had a lightbulb over my head moment and that was the end of my money wasting on onions ways.  Go, Fred!


Blah, blah, blah. All you’re doing is making a roux. Don’t know what a roux is? Google it. This is how you learn. You’ll thank me later. Fine, I’ll do it for you. Learn how to make a good roux and you can do just about anything.


Go to your grocery produce section and look for this. Because this has seriously saved my ass plenty of times. I’m in a rural area that takes for goddamn ever to get to a decent grocery store. With this in my refrigerator, I’m gold.


When one does not have the correct ingredients you make-do.


See what I mean?


And then I strained them into my pot. But I’ll do full-disclosure here by telling you that the minute I dumped some of those goddamn tomatoes out, it started to take forever to strain and I said, “FUCKTHIS!” and just put the blended tomatoes into the pot, seeds and all. It’s NOT that big of a deal. And I figure that most people reading this are just not that precious. We’re a practical bunch (I hope). Except Robyn. She’s too precious for stuffed peppers. Hee!

More full-disclosure: I used half and half instead of heavy whipping cream and I skipped the bay leaf business because I didn’t have any.


When it was all said and done I had a beautiful, delicious bowl of soup bisque that I loaded with homemade croutons because I am a total fatty.  I’m going to go ahead and say that I liked this recipe even with making the changes because I don’t think I mixed it up too much.  And from reading Robyn’s entry above we should probably say that your mileage may vary.  Different strokes, man.  Different strokes. Heh.

Saks Fifth Avenue Tomato-Basil Bisque
Original Source/Author:
: Soup
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 large yellow onion
  • ½ rib celery
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 2 cans (16 ounce size) diced tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
  • 2 cans (16 ounce size) tomato puree
  • 1 can (16 ounce size) beef stock
  • ½ cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 bay leaf
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  1. Heat butter in a large stockpot. Dice onion and celery and add to pot. Saute until the onion is transparent. Sprinkle flour over onions one tablespoon at a time, stirring in each one thoroughly with a large spoon until paste forms. Add garlic, diced tomatoes and basil, and stir. Stir in tomato puree and beef stock slowly, then whipping cream. The soup should be a rose color. Add bay leaf and simmer on low for about an hour. Remove bay leaf before serving.
  2. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
A commenter on the cdkitchen site said that the recipe can sizes varied from what she was able to buy in the store. She just used what she had (which is only a few ounces difference) and it worked out fine.



Saks Fifth Avenue Tomato-Basil Bisque — 26 Comments

  1. Looks delicious. I love Tomato soup in all its permutations, but alas I won’t be making this until I figure out how to make a good roux with a substitute (i.e. non-wheat flour). Yes, I am that precious. I want to hear how the stuffed pepper soup turns out – that also sounds good. And I love me some soup and salad for lunch even though I live on the face of the sun. Thanks for the heads up on the refrigerated Basil too. My dogs pee on the stuff in my garden, so no way I am using that in my food.

    • Oh, my god. I never thought about the dogs peeing on it. Now I’m all freaked out because we have eaten basil that I got from co-workers (who had a shit-ton of male dogs). Yuk Yuk No!

      • Nance,

        Some people actually grow their herbs in pots that they keep up high – so chances are pretty good your basil was pee free. I am too lazy to water pots of herbs, so mine grows free where it was planted 3+ years ago.

      • Ugh, that’s even worse because I was at their house and I know for a fact that their basil plants were outside ON THE GROUND. I am scarred for life now. Just ruined. And I’m thinking it’s all your fault. Or maybe not, maybe I’m just pee-brained. Hee!

    • I made a great roux the other day using buckwheat flour and a little tapioca flour. Buckwheat is an herb – not a grain and it came out pretty good.

      • I was just getting on here to rag on you about what the hell tapioca flour was and then it hit me and I am stupid because no shit, I was sitting here pronouncing it like some kind of special Asian flour and bwahaha, I need to go lay down for a while.

  2. I have a fantastic go-to tomato soup recipe that I use but I always like to compare to others…the addition of beef broth in this one is certainly different. Like you, Nance, I always load my soups up with homemade croutons! This summer I plan on growing a whole bed of basil and freezing some pesto cubes because I just don’t get why it’s so expensive in the store!

  3. I love Tomato Bisque but I am put off by the inexplicable use of celery in this recipe. I fucking hate celery. I mean, I don’t Cilantro-Hate it, I’ll eat it raw with peanut butter or pimento cheese spread on it. But still.

    And Nance, congratulations. Your soup looks better than Robyn’s. It slays me how you never ever follow the recipe.

    • Jane,
      what the hell is pimento cheese? Pss…it sounds like old people food and you might wanna keep that on the down low. Hee.
      And also it’s good to sometimes just consider a recipes to be a vague idea. You gotta be true to yourself! 🙂

  4. Well, duh. I knew about freezing onions, but it never occurred to me to freeze celery. Guess what I’ll be doing with my leftover celery! Also, I’ve never noticed the refrigerated basil before, I’m going to look for it next time I go to the grocery store!

  5. This looks yummy to me. I love cream of tomato/tomato bisque soup.

    I’m with Robyn-I hate peppers with a passion. They repeat like hell and I don’t even like them the first time so why would I want to taste them the rest of the day or night?

    Reading this is making me realize I am entirely too anal about following complicated directions precisely. I need to get braver like you two and I wouldn’t feel as intimidated by some recipes.

  6. Hey yall, this looks simple enough, and I love me some tomato soup and grilled cheese sammies! But I always expect a little flavor of sherry in my bisque, so I’m sure I’d add that if I tried this one. And also, lobster.

    • I’m sorry Kathy, the use of the word sammies would get you verbally beaten in our house. No sammies, no yummo, no it’s a good thing and definitely no Guy Ferry!

  7. I have no intention of making this soup, but I read all the way to the end just for the giggles. 🙂

    I would, however, make a stuffed pepper soup. One of the best soups I ever had was stuffed pepper. The crazy thing? You barely noticed the pepper… it was more about the ingredients used in stuffing it. There’s a tangy taste from the pepper, but you don’t really come across it in the soup and say “Ew, pepper” (which my husband and kids would, really they would, but they didn’t and they love that soup). Anyway, I buy the packets of dry ingredients and spices from a local soup kitchen that helps support itself by selling soup combinations to people like me who have no idea how to make the fabulous soup they create… just add water and beef. I’d love to learn how to actually make it.

    • I’m definitely going to make the stuffed pepper soup now, big mouth (Shirley saw your comment and she is like a dog with a bone). I’ll let you know how it comes out. Watch it will be delicious and I have been missing out all these years. 🙂

  8. “what the hell is pimento cheese?”

    Nance, are you serious? Pimento cheese (homemade that is) is food of the gods. Or the south. Quick recipe:

    2 cups shredded extra-sharp Cheddar cheese
    ½ to ¾ cup mayonnaise
    1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
    1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper (optional)
    1/4 teaspoon onion powder
    1 (7 ounce) jar diced pimento, drained
    salt and black pepper to taste

    Make sure you use a block of cheese and shred it yourself, as preshredded cheese has cornstarch in it.

    Shred your cheese, really fine, mix all ingredients together and throw it in the fridge for a few hours. Serve on anything, really. We prefer a soft wheat bread covered in it.

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