Jeff Benda
No Meat Meals

Tomato Soup in a Cheesy Bread Bowl

Serves 6

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cook time: 25 minutes

We like to think of tomatoes as a staple in Italian cooking, but it wasn’t always the case. In fact, tomatoes didn’t arrive from colonial America until 300 years after St. Thomas Aquinas wrote the Summa Theologiae. This amazingly delicious and comforting soup is made with crusty bread, tomatoes, garlic, onions, and vegetable stock. The first time my 7-year-old daughter, Lucia, tried it, she exclaimed, “I love this soup! It’s stupendous!” I hope you try it and think it’s stupendous too.

“The greatest kindness one can render to any man consists in leading him from error to truth.” 

– Saint Thomas Aquinas


  • 6 Tablespoons butter
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 2 Tablespoons minced garlic
  • 1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 15-ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 Tablespoon basil pesto
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 4 (8-ounce) bread bowls, top 1/2-inch sliced off, insides hollowed out 
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2 cups mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 4 Tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh chives, chopped


  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Melt the butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add onion and sauté for 5 minutes.
  3. Add minced garlic, stir with onion, and sauté 1 minute.
  4. Add the tomatoes, vegetable broth, pesto, salt, pepper, and sugar. Bring to a boil, then immediately reduce the heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, combine the olive oil and garlic powder in a small bowl. Brush inside of bread bowls and place them on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Sprinkle each bread bowl with 1/4 cup mozzarella cheese. Bake for 10 minutes.
  6. Stir the heavy whipping cream and 2 Tablespoons Parmesan into the soup.
  7. Serve the soup in the bread bowls. Top with more Parmesan and some chives.