How to Make Carrabba’s Tomato Basil Soup Recipe at Home

Carrabba’s is a super popular restaurant chain for Italian-American food in the Southeastern United States and their wonderfully velvety tomato basil soup is an important ingredient in their company’s success.

Warming and delicious, this soup is full of fire-roasted flavor and amazing vegetable goodness, with a touch of cream and plenty of basil and garlic. It’s a perfect warm-up for Carrabba’s Sicilian-American cuisine developed by founders Damien Mandola and Charles Carrabba III.

Founded the day after Christmas in 1986 in Houston, Texas, Carrabba’s brand was licensed in January 1993 to Outback Steakhouse, Inc., now known as Bloomin’ Brands, to expand nationwide.

Carrabba’s continued to team up with other companies to bring their restaurant’s brand of home-style Italian food to airports and overseas markets including Brazil and Canada. Carrabba’s brand was purchased from the founders in 2021, allowing the founders to keep the two original locations in Houston under their own branding.

With Carrabba’s future now secure with one of North America’s premier casual dining management companies, their delightful fire-roasted tomato basil soup should be a standard for years to come. This Carrabba’s Tomato Basil Soup Recipe will recreate the simple comforts of this restaurant’s fan-favorite soup.

Carrabba’s Tomato Basil Soup Recipe

This popular dish is a staple of Italian American cooking. At its worst, tomato basil soup taste like drinking slightly thinner pureed marinara sauce, which isn’t the worst thing in the world. Carrabba’s tomato basil soup is a slightly chunkier version of this famous dish, made with fire-roasted tomatoes for extra flavor and plenty of garlic for the diner’s pleasure.


  • Serves 4-6
  • 2 (14 oz.) cans of fire roasted tomatoes OR 1 (28 oz.) can of whole tomatoes, hand-crushed
  • 5 cloves of garlic, crushed and chopped, 1 clove reserved
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 1 carton chicken stock
  • ½ cup heavy whipping cream
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 package of fresh basil leaves (15-20), chiffonaded
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Crushed red pepper to taste


  • Enameled Dutch oven
  • Blender


  1. Begin by heating olive oil in the Dutch oven until just shimmering. Do not heat until smoking; if you start seeing wisps of smoke on the surface of the olive oil, the oil is too hot; take it off the heat until they dissipate.
  2. Add the fire-roasted tomatoes and chicken stock, bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer.
  3. Once the tomatoes are at a simmer, add salt and pepper, crushed red pepper, and garlic, minus the reserved clove, and simmer for 10-15 minutes.
  4. Drain off 1-2 cups of tomatoes to a bowl and let them cool slightly. Once cooled, whisk the heavy cream into the cooled tomatoes to temper.
  5. Introduce the tempered cream into the soup and stir until fully integrated into the soup.
  6. Add the chiffonaded basil into the soup and stir until well-distributed into the soup, and simmer for another 5-10 minutes.
  7. Add the soup in batches to a blender and spin until smooth and creamy
  8. Reintroduce the soup to the pot and add the final clove of chopped garlic for a bite of raw garlic added to the soup.

The soup’s texture should be smooth and velvety at this point and ready to serve with grated parmesan cheese, preferably freshly-grated Italian parmigiano Reggiano. Other lovely garnishes may include pine nuts, rosemary, or chopped curly-leaf parsley.

This soup gets better in the refrigerator overnight and freezes beautifully; frozen it keeps for 1-3 months before becoming freezer burned. But let’s be realistic, you’re not going to let a soup like this sit in your freezer for three months.

Frequently Asked Questions

Where does tomato basil soup originate?

Technically this soup is a tomato basil bisque, as it’s partially thickened with cream. However, this soup also uses chicken stock in its creation, making it a soup in the more traditional sense as well. Tomato basil soup relates to soups from Andalucia in southern Spain as well as marinara sauces from Italy. The hot tomato basil soup consumed in North America is similar to the cold tomato soups of Spain known as gazpacho. The first tomato soup appeared in Eliza Leslie’s Miss Leslie’s New Cookery Book, published in 1857 by T.B. Peterson.

What is Tempering?

In cooking, tempering is adding a liquid that contains protein, like milk or cream, to a cooled portion of a hot liquid. Tempering’s purpose is to gently heat the milk or cream to a temperature between room temperature and the hot temperature of the cooking liquid.

This will prevent the protein from denaturing and curdling when it’s introduced to the simmering soup, avoiding a grainy texture. Grainy texture in a soup is unpleasant, but it’s not dangerous to the diner. The denatured protein is only going to be gritty on the tongue.

How Much Garlic?

Garlic is one of the most delicious of all seasoning aromatics and is criminally underused in most recipes. Many recipes will purport that only one clove of garlic is required. A common rejoinder to this attitude is, “One garlic clove is only acceptable for a recipe to roast one clove of garlic – and even then, use two.”

This recipe uses five cloves of garlic for a punch of pungent fresh garlic combined with the mellow fire of cooked garlic in the main body of the soup’s flavor. Thus, significant deviation from this recipe is not recommended, unlike with many other recipes.

Why Use Fresh Basil And Not Dried?

Many supermarkets don’t want their customers to realize that dried herbs are nothing more than slightly smelly dust. Herbs rely on the oils contained in the leaves. Most of those oils are expressed and lost when the herb is dried.

Some herbs will retain their oils through the drying process, such as oregano. Basil is always better when you purchase fresh basil, as it’s being used. Avoid using dried basil. Pre-chopped basil is fine for cooks who have a hard time with mobility.

Why Grate Your Own Cheese?

It’s perfectly possible to use pre-packaged grated parmesan cheese in this recipe. However, pre-shredded cheese tends not to melt cleanly.  This is due to being dusted with cellulose powder to keep it from caking in the package.

When cheese doesn’t melt cleanly, it will retain a grainy texture. This is even after having been melted because of the introduction of cellulose. Because of this, if you have time, grate your own.

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