Taste test: Tomato bisque

These creamy soups would make for a convenient meal.
Published February 11
Updated February 11

Want to show your valentine some love and warmth this week? Forget the flowers and candy and make some creamy tomato bisque for a heartwarming treat. Bisque is a soup with cream in the base, making it smoother and richer than traditional broths. While our judges often make their meals from scratch, none are opposed to starting with a store-bought option as a base. This week, we found six brands of tomato bisque and heated them all on the stove to compare the textures and taste. Our panelists will be serving some of these bisques, along with slices of crusty bread, this Valentine’s Day.

Wolfgang Puck / 68

Serving size: 1 cup

Calories: 150

Fat/fiber: 6g / 3g

Sugar/sodium: 13g / 590mg

Carbs/protein: 21g / 2g

Judges’ comments: Soft chunks of tomato and visible herbs in this bisque pleased all of our judges. They liked the darker, orange color and the consistency. “It’s not too watery or too pasty,” said one taster, adding, “I would eat this for lunch with a crust of bread.” One said she might add more tomato to give the soup added bulk. “It needs to show off the flavor of the tomato a bit more,” she said. Another described the soup as hearty. “It’s the perfect bowl,” she said. “If you added a dollop of sour cream and a few crackers you could charge $8.99 per bowl of this.”

Would they buy? Two of the four judges said yes.

Shopping information: $2.50 for a 14.5-ounce can from Publix.

Campbell’s Slow Kettle Tomato and Sweet Basil / 54

Serving size: 1 (15.5-ounce) container

Calories: 510

Fat/fiber: 28g / 4g

Sugar/sodium: 43g / 1,410mg

Carbs/protein: 58g / 7g

Judges’ comments: This version from the popular soupmaker was very deep red in color with plenty of herbs and even tomato bits with skins. Judges said it was super creamy as well. “This seems to be the most authentic of the bunch,” said a taster who would buy this Campbell’s option. One panelist said it had an appealing “earthy” texture. But all of the judges said the bisque was a bit too sweet. “I would definitely add sour cream or some seasonings to combat the sugary flavor,” said one judge.

Would they buy? Two of the four judges said yes.

Shopping information: $3.69 for a 15.5-ounce container from Publix.

Amy’s Organic / 53

Serving size: 1 cup

Calories: 130

Fat/fiber: 4g / 3g

Sugar/sodium: 14g / 680mg

Carbs/protein: 21g / 3g

Judges’ comments: Judges gave Amy’s canned bisque high marks for its flavor. They liked the bright color and the robust tomato taste. But all four said it seemed a bit too much like tomato sauce rather than bisque. “It might be better poured over pasta than served in a bowl,” said one judge. She suggested adding more cream for a smoother consistency. “It needs something to cut down the acidity and pump up the smoothness,” she added.

Would they buy? One of the four judges said yes.

Shopping information: $2.99 for a 14.5-ounce can from Publix.

Also sampled: Campbell’s ($1.75 for a 10.75-ounce can from Publix, 48 points); the Fresh Market ($5.99 for a 16-ounce tub, 47 points); and Campbell’s Well Yes! ($2.69 for a 16.3-ounce can from Publix, 26 points).

Panelists: Nan Jensen, registered dietitian; Kay Studer, personal chef; Laura Reiley, Times food critic; and Michelle Stark, Times food editor. All soups were tasted blind.