classic grilled cheese + cream of tomato soup

[In 2019, this recipe got a little refresh and new photos.]

I don’t know about you but when I arrived at work yesterday I had both the appearance and seething demeanor of a wet cat. I don’t know what exactly the point of carrying my green flowered umbrella was, if to get utterly soaked just the same, making my way through two phone calls irked by a lingering unpleasant zoo-like scent that turned out be emanating my sopping wool pants. Yech! After work drink thing? Cancelled. Pedicure? Cancelled. Tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches? Oh, it was so on.

start with two cans tomatoesit's weird but it works

It’s funny, you know, when I talk about these “classic homey foods,” these “best childhood memory meals,” as I must confess that they’re not mine. We ate grilled cheese, but never tomato soup; we loved mac-and-cheese, but all I ever wanted was (of course) Kraft. I believe I had Campbell’s tomato soup a few times at friends’ houses, but never thought it was anything to write home about, as well as more than my share of tomato bisques at restaurants, but too often they reminded me of pasta sauces, excessive at even a cup at a time. But, with times as appropriate as this long, wet winter ahead and sources as good as, yet again, The America’s Test Kitchen Cookbook, this seems as good as a time as any to start making our own, because these recipes are keepers.

from the ovenminced shallots

This time, Cook’s Illustrated crew was searching for “a perfectly smooth soup with rich color and great tomato flavor” and I enthusiastically applaud their efforts. This soup is fantastically rich in flavor, a whole lot more than you’d expect from your typical puddle of orange. More impressive is how they coaxed that flavor from something as everyday as canned tomatoes. The roasting step brings out their boldest intent, and the caramelizing of the shallots in the butter is reminiscent of the dreamy base of French onion soup. You use nearly every part of those canned tomatoes, which I love, because why dump that liquid carted over here from San Marzano? It’s the least you owe your food miles. I’m sure tomato soups can be made with far fewer steps – and admit to tossing the directions to the wind in step three – but I doubt they’re as layered in complexity as this deceivingly simple-looking one.

shallots, butter, tomato pasteadd the roasted tomatoes

Now, the grilled cheese would have been better had I followed the recipe more closely. I cut my bread class rustic white loaf too thick and spread the cheese too thin, but neither of us complained. My classic Deb grilled cheese sandwich is emmanthel or gruyere, a couple leaves of arugula, a slice of tomato, salt and pepper on bread grilled on a panini, but something as humble and unassuming as smooth tomato soup seems no place for such fancy. We had the soup and sandwiches ready just in the nick of time, as the opening scene of Lost was already rolling and OMG, I don’t want to ruin the rest. Warmed, full, dry and rested at last, it was an excellent Wednesday night.

classic cream of tomato soup + grilled cheese

Cream of Tomato Soup

This is a classic tomato soup, reminiscent the canned tomato soup so famous, Andy Warhol turned it into iconic American art, but so much better. The tomato-roasted step will seem bizarre, but adds a depth and complexity to canned tomatoes that makes this soup incredible.

[Note: In 2019, this recipe got a little refresh and new photos. The recipe has been simplified a bit.]

  • 2 (28-ounce) cans whole tomatoes packed in juice
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 4 large shallots, minced (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • Pinch ground allspice
  • 2 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1 3/4 cups vegetable or chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons brandy or dry sherry (optional)
  • Salt and cayenne pepper

Heat oven to 450°F. Lined rimmed baking sheet with foil. Place a strainer over a large bowl, and open first can of tomatoes into it. With fingers, carefully open whole tomatoes and push out seeds, allowing juices to fall through strainer into bowl. Spread seeded tomatoes in single layer on foil. Repeat with second can of tomatoes. Sprinkle tomatoes on roasting pan evenly with brown sugar. Bake until all liquid has evaporated and tomatoes begin to color (although I usually get just a hint of color, at most), about 30 minutes. Let tomatoes cool slightly while you work on the rest of the soup.

Heat butter over medium heat in large saucepan until foaming. Add shallots, tomato paste and allspice. Reduce heat to low, cover, and cook, stirring occasionally, until shallots are softened, 7 to 10 minutes. Add flour and cook, stirring constantly, until thoroughly combined, about 30 seconds. Gradually add vegetable or chicken stock, whisking constantly to combine; stir in reserved tomato juice. Gently peel roasted tomatoes from foil and add them to the pot. Cover, increase heat to medium, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, to blend flavors, about 10 minutes.

Off the heat, use an immersion blender to puree soup until smooth. Add cream — I often start with just 1/4 cup, adding the last 1/4 cup, if we wish, drizzled over serving bowls — warm over low heat until hot, about 3 minutes. Off heat, stir in brandy and season with salt and cayenne. Serve immediately.

Do ahead: Soup can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 2 days. Warm over low heat until hot; do not boil.

Classic Grilled Cheese

Want to shake up your grilled cheese a little? These frico grilled cheese sandwiches are awesome here too.

  • 3 ounces cheese (preferably cheddar, but a combination of cheese will work too), coarsely grated (about 3/4 cup)
  • 4 slices (1/2 inch-thick) from white sandwich bread (ATK likes Pepperidge Farm Toasting White)
  • 2 tablespoons butter (preferably salted), melted

Heat a heavy 12-inch skillet over low to medium-low heat. Meanwhile, sprinkle a portion of cheese over two bread slices. Top each with a remaining bread slice, pressing down gently to set. Brush sandwich tops completely with half of melted butter; place each sandwich, buttered-size down, in skillet. Brush remaining side of each sandwich completely with remaining butter. Cook until crisp and deep golden brown, 5 to 10 minutes per side, flipping sandwiches back to first side to reheat and crisp, about 15 seconds. Serve immediately.

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208 comments on classic grilled cheese + cream of tomato soup

  1. S

    haha we are addicted to Lost as well!! Too bad the next one will be in Feb…what will be my weekly addiction from now until then!?! Also, you guys eat a late dinner!

  2. S

    I realize that I put one too many exclamation marks in that comment above (I just have this compulsive habit of putting those suckers in when I don’t really mean to be so enthusiastic haha)

  3. Mmmm…that sounds amazing. Tomato soup is one of my favorite foods in the whole world. I’ve tried many recipes and have found some I love, but am always open to something new to try.

  4. Lisa

    Does anyone have a subcription to Cooks Illustrated? I wanted to sign up but being in Canada and my city name being longer than 13 letters, it is erroring out on me. The 800# is only in US and I can’t find an email address to try to get to customer service. I was wondering if someone with a subcription could find out for me how Canadians need to fill out the subscription webform OR would it be better to just sign up for yearly access to the website? I tend to like to have the actual magazine to flip thru. Or I can buy the Cooks Illustrated 2005 which I am guessing would have all the recipes from 2004 or 2005 for about the same price as the yearly web subcription… too many choices…my head hurts…

  5. have some mercy! I´m drooling over here. The sight of that crispy sandwich after having had lunch is no good… good thing I´m going to yoga in a little while so I can concentrate in NOT eating a sandwhich right this very second hahaha

    I have never had tomato soup before, but this sounds like a good place to start. I should hurry up and make it soon before summer makes me abandon soups altogether.

    (PS: when you have the time, check out my blog, it´s hilarious, my first commenter ever accused me of stealing your photos!)

  6. RA

    Rock on! I am loving the giant grilled cheese. I never did the tomato soup combo myself (more of a ketchup girl), but this version seems way more appetizing than the one with instructions of “Open can. Dump.” Soup and sandwich is definitely a match made in heaven.

  7. Birdita

    I’ve been totally craving this very meal! I am only just getting my feet wet in the cooking department, so have relied on pre-packaged goods to get by. I am absolutely in love with Pacific Foods, Roasted Red Pepper and Tomato Soup. The peppers add a wonderful sweetness! Think I’ll have to test my growing cooking skills on this recipe.

  8. Jen

    This looks sooooo yummy!!!! The perfect winter food! I can’t wait to try it… although I might be tempted to put my go-to cream of tomato soup garnishes in here – a bit of basil and some grated parm…

    Deb… I know this means work, but you should post a listing of all your cookbooks (including specific edition information), and perhaps a brief review of each. I’m always curious what cooks keep on their shelves for inspiration!

    Thanks again for the great website and all the wonderful inspiration!

  9. Jessica

    Oh, I can SO top that recipe. There is a restaurant in Missoula where I live that makes the most incredible tomato soup ever. I order it for breakfast. :-)

    4B’s Cream of Tomato Soup
    3-14 oz. cans diced tomatoes
    12 oz. chicken broth
    2 tb butter
    2 tb sugar
    1 sm. onion, chopped
    1 pinch baking soda
    2 c. cream

    Mix tomatoes, chicken broth, butter, sugar, onion and baking soda in a large pot and simmer for 1 hour. Heat cream slowly in a double boiler – DO NOT BOIL. Add cream to tomato mixture and enjoy!

    Goes fantastic with grilled cheese.

    Trust me, you’ll never go back.

    1. Athina

      I like that your recipe does not contain flour. I am also guessing that the baking soda is to balance the acidity. Sounds great.

    2. Julianne

      What is the measurement B? a box? Recipe sounds so good. My mom used to fancy up cream of mushroom soup in a similar way. It’s fast and delicious .

  10. deb

    Lisa – I even went easier on the cream. I find it takes so little to get that smooth flavor. I hope you like it.

    S – I know, a three-month hiatus?! What do they think they are, the Sopranos? I wish I could quit them. As for dinner, yes, always too late. I didn’t realize the soup had so many steps, which is my excuse every night. Just the straining/seeding/laying out tomatoes was a good twenty minutes. And then they roast for at least 30! But worth it. Self-aware exclamation marks are acceptable, fear not.

    Jessie – I think there are a lot of different types, this being the smooth, butter-flavored one. God, I miss it already. How many hours until I get home?

    Lisa – I don’t, but (ALEX: HINT!) I hope to have one soon. Sorry.

    Jnet – Let us know what you think. I say us – are we okay with this?

    Marce – Yeah, that’s some crazy commenter, indeed. Being anonymous is always the first sign. Hurry before summer starts? Jealous!

    RA – The grilled cheese are actually tiny thus I made three. It’s that narrow loaf of bread and my press-your-nose-in-it crop. You should totally try this soup!

    Birdita – All I did was follow the recipe. That’s the beauty of these CI recipes – they always work. Swoon.

    Married Girl – I aim to please. It was my exact feeling when I saw the recipe over the weekend.

    Jocelyn – For your bday party, of course. I’ll be around, well, Saturday at least.

    Jen – No basil! No parm! Actually, though I LOVE those flavors, they were exactly what I didn’t like about “marinara sauce-like” tomato soups. It confuses my simpleton taste buds. I wanted spaghetti with it.

    Browneyedgirlie – February better come soon, because I swear, there hasn’t been a season that’s given us LESS info than this one. So frustrating that they don’t get this. As I said above, I wish I could quit it, but frankly, I’ve got not a chance.

    Jessica – 2 cups of cream? Are you trying to kill us? I kid, I kid. I’m sure it’s tasty as hell.

  11. Jessica

    I know it has two cups of cream, but trust me, it’s worth it. Give it a whirl one night when you’re really cold and it will redeem itself. Oh, I want a bowl right now…

  12. Ok, I am just going to go ahead and tell you this. I think that you have somehow found a part of my brain that remembers my childhood, because you have now given us the ultimate grilled cheese and tomato soup combo. This combo is in my definition, the search for the best two food items ever invented separately, let alone combined.

    You frighten and amaze me.

    1. Tarah

      A-MAZ-ING! I didn’t have allspice so I used a pinch of cinnamon (reminiscent of Lebanese tomato kibbee). I also missed the note about saving the juices from the tomatoes, so added a little extra broth and tomato paste. Will serve it with grilled cheese made from homemade bread + applewood smoked cheddar from our local cheese shop. Perfect for -2 degree days in the Midwest!!

  13. oh boy. I recently tried a tomato bisque at our new Market District Giant Eagle and I have spent WAY too much money on that stuff already- it is phenomenally addictive and good. AND I just LOVE tomato soup and grilled cheese. I just can’t stand that one of the ingredients of Campbell’s is high fructose corn syrup!!!!

    So, thanks for sharing this recipe. I adore C.I. and tape them every Tuesday on PBS and salivate over the recipes they make w/ such ease (many steps, but looks effortless… ah tv).
    May have to try Jessica’s suggested recipe, too!

    TGIF, tomorrow- perfect grilled cheese and tomato soup kinda day!

  14. That tomato soup recipe (or a version of it) may be one of the first recipes I ever read in Cook’s Illustrated, and I remember thinking at the time how good it sounded. I need to get around to making it!

    My favorite version of the grilled cheese sandwich is pretty much like yours but uses pepper jack cheese. It would be spectacular with tomato soup.

  15. Yvo

    Mm, maybe I should try this. You know I grew up eating grilled cheese (and was AMAZED when I discovered the addition of a tomato slice…)… but I can’t get into eating/drinking tomato soup. I’ll give this a whirl one night but like you said, it reminds me of pasta sauce and, sorry but ew?! You promise it doesn’t, right?! :)

  16. WOW. I just made this soup last night, and it was amazing! I don’t even like tomatoes, but I absolutely loved this soup. I even posted about it my own blog, which is not generally dedicated to recipe making. Nice find.

    Hope your arm recovers quickly!!

  17. Madina

    It rained here in DC over the weekend and this made the perfect Sunday dinner! Didn’t have any sherry or brandy at home (suprising :)), and forgot to pick up tomato paste. Still delicious and light years better than canned! Thanks, Deb.

  18. Amy

    I am snowed in today and I made a bastardized version of this. I had no cream so I used cream of chicken soup, plus my food processor is crappy and it didn’t turn out particularly smooth. But even so, it was SO delicious and perfect for a snowy day! I didn’t think I even LIKED tomato soup! Consider me converted.

  19. RSD

    I made the soup and sandwiches for my husband last week. At first he thought – why is she cooking such a non-gourmet meal (especially since I always make quick dinners), then when he tasted it — I received so much praise! He even took the leftover soup to work and distributed it to some of the girls. A few of them asked for the recipe, so he sent them this link. He was so proud of me :) Thanks!

  20. trudy

    I been using an old recipes from a NY Times cookbook for tomato soup. Can’t wait to try this one with the grilled cheese sandwich.

  21. I made the soup and sandwiches tonight and they turned out fantastic. I actually didn’t have brown sugar or all spice, so, I substituted white sugar and pumpkin spice mix and the soup was still so good. Thanks!

  22. Erin

    We had this soup for dinner last night and it was delicious! We had grilled cheeses, too, but didn’t use this particular recipe…although…grilled cheese is kind of grilled cheese, if you use lovely bread and nice cheese, you know? Anyway! The soup was great! Really easy (not quick, but not at all difficult) and tasty. I, too, skipped the many parts of Step 3 and just used an immersion blender then added cream (no brandy), salt and cayenne. Ours wasn’t perfectly smooth, but I liked the kind of rustic feel it had.

    Two thumbs up for another winner, Deb! Thanks! It was perfect for a chilly evening in early fall!

  23. Liz

    Yet again I am printing this recipe before heading out to the store – perfect for Fall days! I have made this countless times since it was posted here, each time to rave reviews (when I share it). Thank you for posting this here – I never would have found it otherwise. Simply the best tomato soup I have ever had!! (goes great with a grilled cheese of swiss on rye)

  24. MBT

    Made this last night. Didn’t have allspice (used nutmeg instead) or brandy and it still came out wonderfully. Had it for lunch today and again as an after-work snack with a grilled muenster sandwich. YUM!

  25. Liz

    Love this soup. I’ve made it twice now since you posted it a couple of weeks ago. The only problem is that it gives me heartburn if I eat it too many times in a row – but that just means I get to store the extra in the freezer for a day when I don’t want to cook! Now I have to perfect my bread-making skills so I can make the perfect grilled cheese to go-with.

  26. Laura R

    Made this tonight!! My husband nearly melted at the taste! I didn’t have the brandy so I used mirin rice wine instead and it tasted fantastic!! I wasn’t sure about it but it led a sweet tang to the soup! Once again you have helped me it the meals out of the ballpark! yay!! i just love your website!! this is the third recipe I have made with absolutely fantastic results! :) thanks again!! Oh and of course I made the grilled cheese! yummy! How can you go wrong? :) Yummy !

  27. dagnolia

    holy moly is this stuff good… and i am NOT typically a fan of tomato-based soups of any stripe.

    i did find the recipe a bit too fussy… i transferred my roasted tomatoes directly to the blender, then added the contents of the pan (all ingredients up to chicken stock) pureed that, added it back to the pan, then added the reserved tomato juice. saved a few dishes, and the necessity to strain hot liquids.

    i didn’t have any brandy, but a tablespoon or so of red wine did find its way in there. it tasted so good at that point i was even tempted to NOT add the cream… though of course i did add it. no regrets there. :)

    topped with a drizzle of balsamic reduction & basil chiffonade, it’s beautiful and extraordinarily delicious. mmmm….

  28. Gracie B.

    Yummmmmmmm! This recipe has been haunting me for weeks – so I just made it today. SO good. So so SO good. I can’t wait to make it next Winter

  29. MmeMcM

    I have to say, this is one recipe I had really hoped to love, as a creamy homemade tomato soup is one of my great loves. I love Cook’s Illustrated but my soup came out so thick, it was like a very sweet pasta sauce. Hmmmm. I ended up adding more stock but it just wasn’t the right texture or taste. Honestly, not worth the effort…your bowl looks lovely though : ) As does the sandwich!

  30. Amanda

    I’ve been making a habit of picking something off of your site and making it for my second dinner after my kids go to bed… I’m pregnant and tend to eat two dinners… so I skipped the whole roasting the tomatoes, though I did boil them on the stove with the brown sugar for a while. Didn’t have shallots so I used onion, didn’t have chicken stock or cream, so I used half milk/half water, and I, too, put the whole thing through my blender. And no brandy. Despite only half-following the recipe, it turned out fabulous! Can’t wait to heat up the leftovers!

  31. tinarina

    I thought the soup was delicious, although next time I may cut back on the brown sugar a tiny bit as it I thought it was a tad sweet. I used the immersion blender at the end–thanks Deb!–which was much easier. The soup itself is so nice and rich that I only added a splash of cream. I’m sure you could leave it out completely.

  32. i made this a few weeks ago, and my husband has been begging for it ever since! he was not thrilled originally that i was making tomato soup, but this recipe is incredible. thanks for sharing it! we’re making it again tonight – a double batch, to have some to freeze! yum!

  33. Debra

    Made the tomato soup for a lunch for a bunch of relatives still in town after Christmas. It was delicious. Served it with grilled cheese sandwiches and Provencal Tuna Sandwiches (recipe Epicurious) and for dessert: your Winter Fruit Salad. It was nice change of pace after Christmas excess. Thank you and Happy New Year.

  34. Michael

    This is awesome! With “snowmaggedon” blowing in from parts all over, I thought this soup and sandwich combo would be the perfect follow-up to a morning of building snowmen and tossing snowballs into the East River. It was. My 4 year old was getting a bit tired of waiting through all the tomato prep, but he loved using the immersion blender with me. Thanks, Deb. This is not the first thing I’ve made of yours, but it is the first time I’ve commented. Kudos for yet another terrific recipe.

  35. planet

    I’m a bit confused – after cooking for 10mins, why do you strain soup only to put it all back together again??? Wouldn’t it be easier just to blend the whole lot in one go or have I missed something?

  36. Katherine

    I made this soup and sandwich combo last night after a weekend trip to Wisconsin where I of course felt obligated to make some excessive cheese purchases. I used a sharp smoked cheddar for the grilled cheese, and served it with an arugula and green apple salad. Absolutely fantastic. Thank you!

  37. Shelley

    Made this soup earlier in the week. I’ve been working my way through your baking archives for months, and have finally taken an interest in the savory side. It was quite tedious, but certainly worth the effort.

    On a soup note, and given your current cold times, have you ever made gumbo? It’s common in the south but I wouldn’t know if it’s as well known up north. It’s a great soup/stew and can be as versatile as you’d like.

  38. Megan

    Discovered you only recently and have been going through your archives.

    This has got to be my favourite soup recipe of all time. I started making it years ago after seeing it on America’s Test Kitchen. Never like tomato soup before; and now I’ve ruined all other brands/recipes for my children. Reheating my lentil soup tonight and realized that the grilled cheeses would be perfect.

  39. Hilary

    This recipe saved me from 1st trimester nausea. I have a feeling I’ll be coming back to it again in the next few weeks! Thank you Smitten Kitchen!

  40. boo

    I have just spent the best part of the day making this soup, and unfortunately I am extremley disappointed. It looks good, just like the picture but tastes very sour. Even with loads of cream it’s still sour.

  41. Charlie

    My wife and I love tomato soup and grilled cheeses for dinner. It’s very good on cold or cool nights. Instead of making my grilled cheeses in a pan on the stove, I make them in broiler. It browns the bread very nicely. The other thing that I like, is to sprinkle a little garlic salt on the bread after buttering it. Adding some sliced ham or banana peppers to the grilled cheese is also a nice addition.

  42. I’ve never had a Smitten Kitchen recipe let me down, but this soup gets two gold stars, at least. It was the best part of an (unnecessarily) long winter. Thanks, Deb!

  43. Chloe

    I am SO making this again. I didn’t have shallots or allspice, so I used onions and cinnamon and cloves, respectively, but otherwise, followed the recipe exactly, though found that it didn’t need any additional seasoning once it was cooked.

    I’m not normally a fan of tomato, though I’ve always loved the soup, but I found myself resisting the urge to just eat all the roasted tomatoes straight off the pan. I also made the grilled cheese sandwiches, and it was an absolute feast. My Mom said it was restaurant-quality, and I agree. Even my cats wanted to lick out the bowls (though I didn’t really feel like sharing my soup with the furballs)! I think I’ll have to make a double batch next time; there just wasn’t enough to satisfy the appetites of my family, once they got a taste of this soup!

  44. Made a modified version of this soup last night and… I’m in love! I used tomato puree instead of the whole tomatoes. Followed your instructions with the shallot/tomato paste saute. Added the flour/stock as directed. Then once it had thickened I added a 14 oz can of tomato puree. Simmered for 20 minutes or so, then thinned it out with the cream. Divine! Your recipes never fail me!

  45. Wendy

    I have tried many tomato soup recipes, and this one is the BEST! I am a huge fan of the blended soups (I love my stick blender) – even in August. Try this!

  46. Lo

    Made it last night for The Boyfriend and I – really, really great dinner!! We licked up every last bit and it was deemed worthy of the repeat list : ) Thank you!!

  47. dana

    Deb, As always, this looks amazing. But question – can I do this with fresh tomatoes? I have a VAT of tomatoes (mostly heirloom) from my CSA that i need to use. Made your fresh tomato sauce last week (YUM!), but wanting a change of pace and the tomatoes just keep coming and coming and coming. Think I will hold on to the green zebras for salad (with the green buttermilk dressing, made with leftover buttermilk from your raspberry buttermilk cake, of course! I swear – I have maybe 3 things that I make that don’t actually originate in some way shape or form from your insanely amazing website!) but want to use up the rest. Should I peel and seed them first, do you think? Thanks so much! Dana

  48. dana

    so – popping in to report back on the heirloom tomatoes. soup is AWESOME. BUT – my measurements were totally off! since i didn’t think to actually google the fresh tomato equivalent to a 28 ounce can (and yet i have a license to practice law??), i had to wing it. also – the amount of reserved tomato juice was hard to measure since they throw off the liquid in the oven – despite draining them for some time first. turns out none of that mattered, as butter, cream and heirloom tomatoes can pretty much make anything awesome – even a 95 degree day in the middle of september and two sick kids. thanks again!

  49. Melody

    i fork-mashed the roasted tomatoes and didn’t puree any of it for a chunky soup–sometimes the traditional is too texture-boring for me so it was perfect. A Keeper.

  50. Nicole

    Yum… I came back again to this soup after making it about a year ago, and it’s still just as delicious. I added some grated carrots in with the onions for texture, and added the roasted tomatoes after a brief stint in the food processor. So delicious!

  51. This is by far the BEST tomato soup I ever had (and I made it myself which is even better). I added home made meat balls to it. This was awesome, can’t believe how tasty it was, loved the sweet taste the brown sugar gave to the tomatoes. Thanks Deb!!

  52. Kristine

    This was so, so, SO good. Also really simple! I made it using tomatoes from our garden (roasted and frozen in August or September). A taste of summer!

  53. Lena

    I made this the other night, but substituted onions, diced tomatoes instead of whole, and a pinch of nutmeg, since I didn’t have all spice. I forgot to blend the diced tomatoes before I threw in some leftover white rice that I had from Chinese take-out during the simmer step and didn’t want to risk a gloppy mess. All in all, this was excellent. I’d definitely make it again.

  54. adie

    Making this tonight for meatless monday…and hope to have a bit leftover to snack on and get us through to the holidays…fast approaching…and we will be travelling. ;) Thanks!!!

  55. Hey Deb! I don’t have much experience (ok, none) with canned tomatoes. Would canned diced tomatoes work instead of whole? Would this eliminate the seeding process?

  56. After a full day working on my first loaf of Tartine bread (it’s quite a process), I realize it was almost (but not quite) a full meal. We needed soup. With the outside temp. touching 20 degrees and not much in the pantry other than two cans of San Marzano tomatoes, Smitten Kitchen comes to the rescue yet again! A deliciously perfect pairing.

  57. Beth

    Snowed in today, and decided to make this soup really quick. Boy was I wrong! It’s pretty good, but good grief there has got to be an easier way to make this comfort food.

  58. Vidya

    I just flew back home yesterday after an extended overseas trip and woke up this morning feeling tired, sluggish and cold. I was too lazy to go to the store and I had two cans of chopped tomatoes and one fresh tomato along with some frozen vegetable stock. I’ve made this before to the letter but I used whatever I had to make a version of this, it works fine with chopped tomatoes. I rarely have cream on hand so I splashed in some milk and a few tablespoons of yogurt, still perfectly creamy.

  59. Mike

    I made this two days ago, and It’s now my favorite recipe. I bought 2 more 28oz cans of tomatoes just so I can make it again this week.

    Thanks for sharing!

  60. kellie

    amazing! loved this soup, totally what i was craving! really like the roasted tomato flavor. i didn’t use chicken stock, just water in its place and salt…. so good!

  61. Lo

    I’m back from my wedding and honeymoon. Hadn’t cooked in two weeks (which is like a lifetime to me.) But wanted to let you know that I turned to your blog right away for one of the first recipes as a married couple. This recipe of yours is one of our favorite. Simple, delicious weekday meal. Made it last night on what seems to be the first day of Fall in Chicagoland. It was amazing (again.) Thanks!

  62. I have to comment after making this soup at least 15 times in the past year or so. It is our go-to soup recipe, I think I can make it with my eyes closed now. Thank you a million times over for this one. It is easy, fairly quick and oh so good. I would love to return the favor, let me know if you need a good fennel and artichoke salad recipe :) Thanks!!! PS The carnitas you just posted from Homesick Texan is another one of my favorites – we’ve been making that for about a year now, too!

  63. mmdlc

    I made this receipe last night. It’s perfect. I have been trying several tomato soup recipes over the past few weeks, trying to find one similar to a restaurant in Mexico where I lived for a few years with my family and THIS one is it! I also added a thick slice of goat cheese in the center when I served it! If you like goat cheese….try it, you will love the combination…In Mexico, they served a breaded, deep-fried piece piece of goat cheese in their tomato soup….that’s where I got the idea….yum!

  64. Krista

    My husband HATES tomato soup. He even pulled a face like someone had just stabbed him in the foot when I told him I was making this recipe for supper last night. But he had to eat crow (or, rather, tomato soup) once he tasted it, because he absolutely loved it (we both did). He couldn’t stop raving about it actually. It was cute.

    I left out the brandy/sherry (only had apricot brandy, wasn’t sure about that flavour combo), and added a pinch of red pepper flakes and a decent amount of cayenne (we like our spice), and it was DELICIOUS. We will definitely be making this again. Thanks!

  65. Mollie

    Hi Deb,

    I have a question for you… I’m making this soup for part of the buffet for a wedding shower and I have a few questions about it. I noted that you wrote that it will keep for up to two days refrigerated. Do you recommend adding the cream and/or sherry before refrigerating? Also, how many will this serve so that I can size it accordingly? Finally, (I promise this is the last question) have you tried it with vegetable broth? The bride is a vegetarian, but I’ve always made this soup (which I LOVE) with the called for chicken broth. Do you have any recommendation for a good canned veg broth? I’m NOT making my own with all this work ahead of me!

    Thanks, and I have to say, I love this blog. Basically everything I cook comes from here, (carnitas is currently on the stove) All three of my contributions to the shower (lemonade, chicken salad sandwiches, and soup) are coming from YOU!


  66. deb

    You can add the cream before or after refrigeration. I believe it served 6 to 8. It should be just fine with vegetable broth. There are plenty of other flavors here.

  67. Bill Zeller

    We made this for my son-in-law’s book publishing buffet celebration for throngs of folks. We found plastic shot glasses; filled them with soup; garnished with drops of cream and chopped chives. They were a hit. Thanks for the wonderful recipe.

  68. Brenna

    My favorite tomato soup! I add red pepper flakes with the tomato, thicken it with some bread crumbs or diced bread before pureeing, and double the sherry.

  69. Sarah

    I thought this soup turned out really well, So well in fact that my teenage daughter took the time to look up from her cell phone and tell me it was “pretty good”. This qualify’s as a home run in our house.

    I did make a few changes,

    -When prepping the onion mixture I ground in fresh pepper (about 1 tablespoon ), dried basil ( also 1 tablespoon ) and 2 cloves garlic.
    -I doubled the cream and added a pinch of brown sugar in the finishing stages to reduce the acidity
    -I omitted the allspice and was liberal with the brandy.

  70. Tess

    I am making this for a work event, and plan to reheat it in a crockpot, would that be recommendable? Would you recommend that I wait to add the cream at that point?

    Thank you so much! I absolutely love this blog, and visit all the time!

  71. Susanna Grollimund

    There are also a number of additions that can go into a grilled cheese sandwich, like ham, tomato, herbs and spices, or sauces like ketchup or mustard. Some of these will go between the slices of bread before the grilling takes place, and some are sprinkled on the top or used as a dip. Many Canadians enjoy dipping their sandwiches in ketchup or applesauce, while people in the United States tend to prefer their sandwiches with tomato soup or French fries on the side.,

  72. Karen

    Cook’s Illustrated also has a cream less creamy tomato soup. It uses white bread and olive oil to produce a satiny smooth texture. It’s very tasty and a little healthier then this version and still uses canned tomatoes and brandy.

  73. Harvest

    This is my favorite tomato soup recipe. I substitute olive oil for the butter and use fresh heirloom tomatoes during the summer and can it (last summer I had 20 pounds of tomatoes which made about 20 pint jars). It was a day long messy project but so great during the winter to just open a jar, heat and add the cream, brandy any seasoning (and make grilled cheese of course).

  74. Erin

    Can you substitute vegetable broth for the chicken broth? My boyfriend is allergic to poultry (so unfortunate, right?) but would love this soup!

  75. Alyssa

    So good– perfect for a rainy November evening! I only had vegetable broth on hand and it worked great for me. Roasting the tomatoes with the brown sugar first brings out the natural sweetness of the tomatoes–absolutely delicious!

  76. Wanda

    I know this was posted years ago,but I just saw this show on ATK today. I wanted to know how much mustard was mixed with the butter to butter the bread,I think THAT’S what would make a grilled cheese sandwich really good.

  77. Raven

    YUM. I used 5 fresh campari tomatoes, which took an hour to roast. I didn’t have shallots, so I used chopped up green onions, and I used whole milk instead of cream. I made my own vegetable broth with lots of different veggie trimmings, mushrooms, herbs, and some dried seaweed. This recipe is really versatile and realllllly good!

  78. Raven (again)

    I’m making a grilled cheese sandwich and this soup right now (without modifications) in my tiny dorm room “kitchen,” in Paris! :) It’s perfect for the freezing cold weather!

  79. KatieK

    Sipping on this now; totally different mouthiness than Campbell’s Cream of Tomato soup. It took a lot of time, however. Drained, I needed to add some V-8 to the juice by about 1/2 a cup. I did add the pepper and salt, it needed it. It made a lot; I think if I make it again, I’ll put some in freezer cups, adding the cream when thawed. My immersion blender just died so I did the solids with the cup of liquid in a blender; worked well.

  80. Beth Eisenberg

    Even better than a grilled cheese in the side take Mark Bittman’s suggestion and cut it up into croutons and serve it IN the soup. As he says” this you will do again and again.”

  81. Madeleine

    Me again– I knew this was a great winter soup, but it also makes a great base for a summertime cooked gazpacho. I made it hot for dinner without any variations, and then served it cold for lunch, with bowls of chopped tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers and croutons set out for our guests to mix their own gazpacho. Our friends brought their kids, who especially enjoyed the activity :)

  82. Shelly

    I just made the soup, not the grilled cheese, and it’s delicious. Roasting the tomatoes really give them a nice, deeper flavor. I took mine out of the oven sooner than 30 minutes because they were beginning to burn and stick, but my oven runs hot. I’m confused about the necessity of the last step — the straining, the blending the re-adding, the reheating… I just added the cayenne and milk (instead of cream), blended with an immersion blender, adjusted the seasonings and that’s it. Yummy!

  83. Jean Brown

    I know it has been a long time (years) but hope the Jessica that posted the recipe for the 4B’s Tomato Soup sees this message. I made the recipe today so simple and delicious I will never open another can…I cut the recipe into 1/3’s and ate every bite!

  84. Charlotte in Toronto

    I’ve been making this soup for a few years but today I stirred in 4oz finely grated cheddar at the end. It’s over the top. I can only have a bit, instead of my usual bowlful. Than you for bringing this into my life ❤

  85. Rebecca

    In the throes of first trimester nausea, this is truly a perfect food for me. I literally dreamt about it the night after I made it! I guess exclusively eating this wouldn’t really amount to a balanced diet, but I am seriously considering it. Oh, it was worth the effort! And I made it with milk instead of cream because that’s all i had…so very much looking forward to the next time when I am better prepared!

  86. Marie


    I’m am currently in the middle of making this delicious recipe and I have a question! I’ve strained the tomatoes and now have the pulp and the juices. Am I only using the juices to add to the shallots and stock? What should I do with the pulp?

    Thank you for bringing this website to the world!

    1. deb

      Never considered the pulp — it’s possible mine doesn’t have any! I usually roast the tomatoes and use the juices. No reason to toss the pulp, though.

  87. CaseyRay

    I know this recipe is very old, but just had to come back here and leave some love because I make it all the time. As a vegetarian I use vegetable broth (and I leave out the cream because of personal preference) and this is SO INCREDIBLE. I’m also very picky about tomato soup (isn’t everyone?!) and this is the best, and so worth the extra step of roasting the tomatoes.

    I’m currently pregnant and have been stressed about the ability to continue eating homemade, yummy food with a newborn. I’m planning to make and freeze a giant batch of this soup and it’s given me peace of mind knowing I’ll have a delicious option on hand…thank you!!

  88. Chiara

    It’s awesome! I left the US a few years ago and we’ve been missing tomato soup and grilled cheese until yesterday when we made it from this recipe. It was delicious and perfect! We used half canned tomatoes and half fresh and peeled ones. Plus we made our tomatoes stock boiling sun dried tomatoes in water while roasting tomatoes.
    Thanks! Your recipes are always the best!

  89. Neel

    The grilled cheese recipe is nothing to write home about, but WOW, that tomato soup! Everyone who ate it agreed it was the best tomato soup s/he had ever had! The recipe is a bit more complicated than one would expect for tomato soup (especially after a childhood of eating the canned Campbell’s variety), but well worth it! The roasting step was key — I roasted mine for 40 mins instead of 30 mins.

  90. Julie

    This recipe is such a classic in my household, despite the fact that I’ve *never* made it as written. Happy to report from here in lazytown that this soup is still utterly delicious if you skip the roasting altogether and just toss the entire contents of the two cans of tomatoes in the pot. Some day I’ll remember to leave time to roast the tomatoes, which I can only imagine will knock all our socks off. Thanks from the frozen north for the fantastic recipe!

  91. The best tomato soup I’ve ever made! Lately, you are my go-to for dinner. Just the other day I made the one-pot Mac-n-cheese. I used parmigiano reggiano, gruyere, and white sharp cheddar. I topped it with a little home-made bread crumbs and threw it under the broiler for a few minutes. Just wonderful. Also infatuated with Mallmann! Hope to someday get to Los Fuegos.

  92. Making this for the third time right now. It is THE best tomato soup recipe that ever was. The combo of roasting with sugar and shallots and butter is scrumptious! We crave it as soon as the last spoonful is gone. Thank you!

  93. Adin

    this soup is wonderful! The recipe also vwganizes very nicely: olive oil instead of butter and cashew cream instead of heavy cream. Delicious.

  94. Athina

    Couldn’t you simply thicken this soup by reducing it, rather than making a roux or using flour to thicken it? There is something about flour-thickened soups I find unappealing.

    1. Julia

      I think with soups that have both dairy and acid (in this case, cream and tomatoes), the flour also helps stabilize the soup and prevent curdling—not just a thickener. It also gives that little bit of velvety texture without making the soup too thick.

  95. El Aitch

    What do you do with the liquid from the cans of tomatoes? You mentioned not wasting it but I don’t see it in the recipe.
    Why not use the liquid instead of vegetable or chicken stock?

  96. Erin

    I made this for dinner tonight during the first big snow storm of the year. The soup is outstanding and a million times better than the stuff from the can. I will be making this regularly! No changes to the recipe required.. It was easy to make and perfect the way it’s stated. Thank you @smittenkitchen. I love your recipes.

  97. Looks delicious! Two questions:

    – could I substitute coconut cream or a key for the heavy cream in this recipe? Or would that disturb the flavor profile of this recipe too much?

    – Is this a sweeter or tarter version of classic cream of tomato soup?

  98. This looks epically delicious, and the perfect meal for the 20 degree weather we are currently attempting to survive! Great suggestion roasting the tomatoes. I live in Germany, they don’t have canned tomato soup (gasp!), and the soup I have tried making turns out weirdly flavorless – think vaguely tomato flavored broth. Sometimes you just need a grilled cheese and tomato soup! Thanks for the recipe.

  99. Kaci

    This was delicious! I have a real soft spot for Campbell’s tomato (and I just got braces—again! In my 50s! So unfair!—and there’s very little I can eat currently, so this was just what I needed. I did it with one can of expensive San Marzanos and one can of pedestrian cheapo tomatoes. About 1/3 of the San Marzanos actually burned so next time I’ll watch that. So good, though!! Thanks Deb!

  100. Charlie

    Just made the soup. Loved it. Because I’m lactose-intolerant, I substituted the same amount of coconut milk for cream. Excellent rich flavour.

  101. Edda

    Such rich flavor. I will make this for my friends soon, can`t wait to see their faces- perfect with the grilled cheese.

  102. Judy

    I’d like to make this using the lovely fresh tomatoes that my garden is giving me right now. How many cups or ounces of fresh tomatoes would you substitute for the canned tomatoes?

  103. Katie M

    The revised version of this recipe omits the amount of juice to reserve from the canned whole tomatoes! I’ve made this recipe countless times and *think* it is supposed to be three cups, but since I usually double the recipe I am not totally sure I’m right on the amount (ie I think I usually do 6 cups when I double the recipe…?). Help!

      1. Rebecca

        I wish it were still there! Making it right now with home canned tomatoes that tend to be a lot thinner/more watery. Knowing how much to add would be super helpful.

        1. Only a thin liquid makes it through my strainer, and a lot of the thicker liquid remains in the strainer. Do I only use the small amount of thin liquid that makes it through the strainer in the soup, and discard the thicker? Do we know roughly how much that should be?

          1. Francoise Mosteiro

            I know this answer is late but hopefully it will help others!
            Amanda -you can use a spatula to press all liquid through the strainer leaving only the seeds behind
            Rebecca – I too used home canned plum tomatoes – I used a total of 4 cups of liquid (all the canning liquid + veg stock) and the soup was perfect !

  104. Michelle W.

    I made tomato basil soup the other night (not your recipe, I should have looked here first). I didn’t have heavy cream so used the half & half I had on hand. It tasted too thin, so on a whim I thought to make it richer tasting by throwing in a dollop of coconut oil, and a touch of red pepper. Wow, it took it to a whole new flavor place! Just a hint of Southeast Asia in my otherwise classic tomato soup. Try it!

  105. Nancy A Smith

    Does the soup freeze well? I want to make it about a week ahead of time. Did your children like it? My granddaughter is 4-1/2. Also, I’m assuming that cream substitutes won’t ruin the flavors, am I right? Thanks for all your great recipes!

  106. Megan

    This is my favorite tomato soup recipe. Tonight I’m serving it with your cheddar, beer, mustard pull-apart bread. Can’t wait!

  107. smittycdm

    Many recipes call for *Pepperidge Farm Toasting White*. Where the heck do you find that bread? I can picture it, but not find it. Kroger’s and all their subs don’t carry it (so frustrating.) Ditto Safeway, Sprouts, Safeway, and what’s left of Albertsons. Whole Foods? Forget it. Have I left anyone out?
    Thanks for any help.

  108. Jenna Dornblaser

    Voila! You did it again Deb – took a yummy classic to the next level! This soup was smooth and silky and rich. Perfect to dunk grilled cheese into. Merci!

    1. Lena

      HI Megan…

      I made this last year with some of my CSA tomatoes and froze the soup for winter consumption. It was delicious. The only difference is that I did not add the cream to the soup, as I’ve heard that freezing and thawing creams isn’t really recommended. I believe that you can add it as you reheat it if you really want the cream to be part of the soup.

  109. Sharon Crawford

    I’ve made the ATK version many times and it’s well worth the effort. However, I would warn everyone that you can never go back to canned soup after making it.

    Their butternut squash soup is also a winner. Creamy and rich and there’s not a drop of cream in it.

  110. Lindsay

    I know this recipe is ancient by SK’s standards, but I had to say how wonderful this soup is. Perfect comfort food as the weather gets colder here in New England and we head, once again, into quarantine. I don’t add the cream and I really don’t think it needs it. As always, thank you Deb!!

  111. Heather

    I need help! My tomatoes aren’t brown but the edges are all blackened after 15 minutes? Is my oven temp too hot? Did I use the wrong brown sugar? Suggestions please!

  112. Ann

    Just made this. It was very good except — it was extremely shalloty/oniony, overwhelming the tomato. And I had cut the number of shallots. I’m wondering if your large shallots were actually smaller. Any chance you could edit to give a total weight for the 4 shallots the recipe calls for?

  113. Claire

    I made this tomato soup the other day and it is delicious. I used parchment paper on my sheet pan instead of foil, dropped the oven temperature down to 400, and added 10 extra minutes to the tomato roasting time (my oven runs hot, and would have burned the tomatoes at 450). I used chicken stock and opted to include sherry, and followed the suggestion to use half the cream. Excellent recipe! Just right on these in-between early spring days. Thank you.

    1. AC

      The roasting in this recipe dehydrates and caramelizes the tomatoes, giving them a different and sweeter flavor than just from the can. If you used canned roasted tomato it might have the “roasted” flavor from the burnt skin but won’t have the same flavor profile as the recipe. Certainly would save time and hassle. But this recipe is worth the time and energy!

    1. Lena

      Hi Jenna…

      I made this last year with some of my CSA tomatoes and froze the soup for winter consumption. It was delicious. The only difference is that I did not add the cream to the soup, as I’ve heard that freezing and thawing creams isn’t really recommended. I believe that you can add it as you reheat it if you really want the cream to be part of the soup.

      I’m actually back on this site right now because I’m making another batch for the freezer.

      Hope you enjoy.

  114. Claire

    I am a former Cook’s Illustrated subscriber, so this soup and I go way back. I was so pleased to find your version here last winter, and I just made it again for the first time since spring. It is always delicious. I forget until I am in the middle of the recipe how much I don’t love the part where I have to take the seeds out of the tomatoes with my fingers, but the end result is so good I soldier through. I use the back of a rubber spatula or a pestle to press any remaining tomato fragments and juice through the strainer into the bowl below, and the fine wire mesh keeps the seeds sifted out. I do include the sherry, for the faint hint of wine-y sweetness, and a little black pepper instead of cayenne. So this will be dinner tonight, with a tuna melt (although a grilled cheese is probably also in my near future).

  115. jjjeanie

    I made this on Mon, during our “atmospheric river” of rain (that gave us about 1/3 of our annual average!). About 10 min after I put the tomatoes in the oven (on parchment paper, which worked quite well, and–I think–is easier on the environment), we lost power. I finished cooking by battery lamp, and at the last minute pulled the tom. from the oven. They were mostly dry, but not “roasted.” And still, this soup was quite tasty! I’ll make it again when there’s no threat of power loss. As it turned out, our power was restored after two hours, so no need to worry about fridge/freezer contents. Thank goodness we have a gas stove!

  116. Jackie

    Very late to the party and forgive my ignorance but what exactly is the difference between San Marzano tomatoes regular canned tomatoes?? I ask because as I was shopping for ingredients this morning I noted that San Marzano labeled tomatoes were a little north of $5 a can versus $5.38 for 2 cans of organic peeled tomatoes. Am roasting the tomatoes now and excited to try this soup but with grocery prices through the roof I had to ask. Thank you in advance for your recipes-always winners.

  117. Julie

    This is fabulous. I forgot the flour and substituted unsweetened Silk soy milk since I didn’t have any cream and it was absolutely delicious.

  118. Jackie

    I just have to tell you I love this soup so much! I make it every year when the weather starts to turn chilly and serve it with grilled cheese and it’s just so so delicious. It takes like 20% longer than I always remember it taking in terms of by the time I get everything chopped and swirled- but it is so so worth it!

  119. Jillian

    Well Deb, congratulations. You have ruined me for all other tomato soups. This recipe is by far the best one I have tried. It is amazing how the extra step of roasting the tomatoes provides depth and complexity to this soup. While straining the tomatoes and removing the seeds I said to my husband this extra step better be worth it. Then I took my first taste and said “uh oh, I may be straining and seeding canned tomatoes for the rest of my life”. So so good – thank you!!

  120. Siobhan Troyer

    The entire process of roasting the tomatoes is totally unnecessary if you simply use tinned Marzano tomatoes to begin with..
    On the other hand, if you use fresh “slicer” tomatoes, they can be peeled & roasted for an hour with garlic cloves, olive oil, & fresh thyme, to make a wonderful base for tomato soup.

  121. Nutmeg

    Crushed tomatoes work just fine! I accidentally opened up the wrong can and decided to try roasting the saucey pulp rather than wasting. I just poured off as much juice as I could, then tipped the crushed tomatoes on a lightly oiled, foil-topped baking sheet and roasted for about 25 minutes. The texture and taste were still amazing. I omitted the cream too!

  122. Jessica

    Accidentally bought whole stewed tomatoes instead of just whole canned tomatoes. Has anyone tried them? Do you think it would work ok?

  123. Jess

    I might be the only one on here commenting who actually made this…I wish I could include a photo of my roasted tomatoes #nailed it, they burned up in the oven! Next time I would roast for 10-15 min. Luckily I had the reserved juice and a couple cans of diced tomatoes so I just cooked it all in the pan. Came out really well considering!

  124. I just made the Cream of Tomato Soup and Classic Grilled Cheese recipe from Smitten Kitchen and it was a comforting and delicious meal. The soup had a great balance of flavors and the creamy texture was perfect. The grilled cheese was also a classic and the bread was perfectly toasted. I also appreciated the step-by-step instructions, which made it easy to follow even for a novice cook like myself. If you’re looking for more delicious recipe inspiration, check out my food blog Step-by-step recipe instructions

  125. Jackie Armstrong

    Made the soup yesterday -it totally spoils you for canned tomato soup. Doesn’t take long to make and ….. YUM! 😋

  126. Elizabeth D

    This was delicious! Suggestion to add “juice reserved” or some other indicator to set aside the juice from the canned tomatoes to ingredient list.

  127. Tracey

    Oh! I would like to know if anyone else agonizes over where to find Sclafani whole peeled tomatoes the way I do?! This photograph just triggered me once again. I used to be able to order a case of them via Amazon pre-COVID and now they are nowhere to be found. Crushed, yes. Pureed, yes. But whole…. Why why why why why why? And what do you use now instead?

  128. anne

    just wanted to write and say thank you for this recipe that always feels like visiting a favorite relative when I make it every year – this morning as a result of reading talia lavin’s substack about grilled cheese. thank you, thank you.

  129. Patty

    Made and loved. But feeling kind of stupid with getting the seeds out of the tomatoes. Is there an easier way? Am I overthinking it? I definitely don’t want seeds in my soup but it was kind of hard, imo. Appreciate any hacks!

  130. Amanda

    I’ve made this with a couple of different brands of canned tomatoes now, and I tend to have some thick pulp left in the strainer that doesn’t release any more liquid after a certain point. I don’t like to add it because the seeds from the tomatoes are with it. I’m usually left with about 2 cups of strained juices – does that sound about right?