Holly Hill Inn’s Tomato Bisque

with Thyme and Orange Zest

Prep: 40 mins Total: 1.5 hrs Serves: 4
Chef Ouita Michel

Ouita Michel is a prolific chef, leading seven restaurants in Kentucky. She has been a James Beard Foundation Award nominee as Outstanding Restaurateur and Best Chef Southeast numerous times, with her restaurants featured in the NYT, Southern Living, Food Network and Cooking Channel.

Holly Hill Inn
Wallace Station
Windy Corner Market
Smith Town Seafood
Zim’s Café
Midway Bakery

“French and Italian cuisine is so good because they use local agricultural artisan products in their food. I’ve committed to supporting local agriculture. I love cooking straight from the garden.”


  • 2 cups onion, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1 head garlic, peeled and chopped
  • 1 fennel bulb, fronds reserved, body roughly chopped
  • 1/4 cup olive oil or butter
  • 6 lbs tomatoes (or more to taste), cores removed
  • 1 quart vegetable stock
  • Zest of 1 orange
  • 1 large bunch of thyme, tied together with string
  • 1 tsp dried basil or oregano
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 cup cream (optional)


Step 1

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut tomatoes in half and roast in the oven until softened. Heat olive oil or butter in a 4-quart stock pot. Sweat the onions, garlic, and fennel over medium heat until soft. Add roasted tomatoes, broth, orange zest, thyme, and dried basil and bring to a simmer.

Step 2

Simmer for 10-12 minutes. Remove the thyme bundle. Puree with an immersion blender or in a pitcher blender. If you like, you can strain the soup. Adjust the seasoning and finish with cream. This soup is delicious hot or cold.

Cook’s Notes

It is also lovely to cook the tomatoes on the grill with smoking chips. Smoked tomatoes are delicious in soups and sauces!