Original 4B’s Tomato Soup

4B’s Tomato Soup is rich and creamy with diced tomatoes. This is the best tomato soup you can try. This recipe is from one of the original owners, Mr. Hainline. My family knew him well. Enjoy! The beauty of this soup is that it is an easy recipe that the whole family will love. 

Overhead view of copycat 4B's creamy tomato soup in two bowls.

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4B’s Creamy Tomato Soup

After making Original 4-B’s Homemade Tomato Soup just once, you will never want to make soup from a can again. If you talk about tomato soup in Montana, many people will start reminiscing about 4-B’s legendary tomato soup.

This tomato soup is rich and creamy because it’s made with real butter, heavy cream, chicken broth, and canned tomatoes. Bs tomato soup recipe, is much loved, and it tastes even better the following day, so you might want to double the recipe and make a big batch. 

What makes 4B’s tomato soup special?

This homemade cream of tomato soup has pieces of tomatoes instead of being smooth. It also has a lighter color than most creamy tomato soups. Butter and heavy cream give it a silky texture. All in all, it’s a luscious, soul-warming soup.

So if you are looking for the best old-fashioned cream of tomato soup recipe, you’ve found it!

About 4-B’s Restaurant

The 4-B diners were established in 1947 in Montana by Bill Hainline. He named the restaurants after his family members whose names all began with “B” – himself, his wife Buddy, his son Bill Jr., and his daughter Barbara.

The Hainline family created many memories for many generations of Montanans. The handful of 4-Bs closed in 2007, but they have since reopened under new ownership. The famous tomato soup is still on the menu.


Here’s a list of what you need to make old-fashioned cream of tomato soup:

  • Canned diced tomatoes
  • Chicken broth
  • Butter
  • Sugar
  • Chopped onion
  • Baking soda
  • Heavy cream

Serving size and nutritional facts are in the printable recipe card below.

Copycat 4B's creamy tomato soup ingredients on a tray.

How to Make 4B’s Tomato Soup

Here are the simple steps for making this tomato soup recipe:

  1. In a large stockpot, mix tomatoes and juices, chicken broth, margarine, onion, and baking soda.
  2. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to low. Simmer for 1 hour.
  3. In a separate pot, heat cream over low heat until hot but not boiling.
  4. Add heated cream to the hot tomato mixture. Stir to combine.
  5. Serve and enjoy!

If you prefer a smooth soup, you can blend it in a blender before serving. Remember to only fill your blender about halfway because hot soup expands when it is blending.

Copycat 4B's creamy tomato soup in two bowls, tomatoes, and bread slices.

The History of Tomatoes

Today, we eat tomatoes all the time. So, it’s surprising to learn that during early colonial times, people wouldn’t put a tomato anywhere near their mouths. It was believed that tomatoes were poisonous and would turn your blood into acid. The colonists did grow tomatoes but purely for decoration.

However, you really can’t keep a good plant down, and over time the taste of the tomato won over the American public. The tomato also received a big boost from Thomas Jefferson who grew tomatoes in his garden at Monticello. Read more about the origin and history of tomatoes.

How to Serve Creamy Tomato Soup

  • Opt for wide, shallow bowls that beautifully display the soup’s creamy texture and color.
  • Garnish with fresh basil or parsley, croutons, a drizzle of olive oil, or red pepper flakes for a kick of heat.
  • Fresh bread or grilled cheese sandwich are classic combos for tomato soup.
  • A light green salad with Italian vinaigrette dressing.

How to Store, Freeze, and Reheat Homemade Creamy Tomato Soup

Cool the soup to room temperature before storing the soup in either the refrigerator or freezer.

Storing: Pour the cooled soup into an airtight container, or portion it in separate containers or resealable plastic bags. Store it in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.

Freezing: Pour the cooled soup into a freezer-safe container or individual portions into plastic freezer bags. Leave about an inch of space at the top of the containers to allow for expansion. Label the container with the date and contents. If using freezer bags, lay them flat in your freezer until solid. This will make them easier to stack and store. Your creamy tomato soup can be stored in the freezer for up to 3 months.

Thawing: Ideally, for the best texture and flavor, thaw your soup in the refrigerator overnight before reheating. If you’re in a rush, you can use the defrost setting on your microwave, or immerse the sealed container in cold water to speed up the thawing process.

Stovetop Reheating: Pour the thawed soup into a pot. Warm over medium heat, stirring occasionally to ensure even heating. If the soup is too thick after thawing, you can add a bit of water, broth, or cream to adjust the consistency.

Microwave Reheating: Pour the soup into a microwave-safe bowl. Cover parchment paper to help prevent splatters. Heat on high in 1-minute intervals, stirring in between each interval, until the soup is hot and steaming.

Copycat 4B's creamy tomato soup in two bowls.

More Tomato Soup Recipes

Check out more of my easy soup recipes and the best copycat restaurant recipes here on CopyCat!

Overhead view of copycat 4B's creamy tomato soup in two bowls.

Original 4B’s Homemade Tomato Soup

The Original 4B’s Homemade Tomato Soup is one of the best tomato soups at there, you can make this copycat recipe. 
4.91 from 22 votes
Print Pin Rate Add to Collection
Course: Soup
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Tomato Soup, Tomatoes
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
Servings: 4
Calories: 586kcal


  • 29 ounces diced tomatoes canned
  • 10.5 ounces chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon chopped onion
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 cups heavy cream


  • In a large stockpot mix tomatoes, chicken broth, margarine, onion, and baking soda. Simmer for 1 hour. In a separate pot, heat cream over low heat until hot, watching carefully so that the cream does not scorch. Once heated through add to tomato soup and serve.



Calories: 586kcal | Carbohydrates: 23g | Protein: 5g | Fat: 54g | Saturated Fat: 32g | Cholesterol: 184mg | Sodium: 706mg | Potassium: 512mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 11g | Vitamin A: 2300IU | Vitamin C: 19.8mg | Calcium: 151mg | Iron: 2.8mg

About Stephanie Manley

I recreate your favorite restaurant recipes, so you can prepare these dishes at home. I help you cook dinner, and serve up dishes you know your family will love. You can find most of the ingredients for all of the recipes in your local grocery store.

Stephanie is the author of CopyKat.com's Dining Out in the Home, and CopyKat.com's Dining Out in the Home 2.

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Reader Interactions


  1. Evenstar

    Wow, I’m speechless. I actually walked into the restaurant two years ago and asked if I could HAVE the recipe. They handed me a card with it printed up, all decorative and fancy. The recipe they hand out had crushed and diced tomatoes in it as well as cream and dairy creamer (like the kind you put in coffee, but unflavored). I follow their recipe except as noted by previous posts, it can be a little sweet so I leave out the sugar.

  2. marcusm

    I always use powdered onion and regular butter with an extra little. Then I always add a some basil. I use half diced/half crushed tomatoes, it just gives it a litte variety. And if you feel the flavor is lacking add a package of seasoning from a chicken ramen noodle package.

  3. Sherrie4222

    Hi Zootownmana! I tried to click on http://posk.tripod/recipe…. Which is all that I can read, (and being new to this site, probably doesn’t help matters) When I clicked on the site, 1st it brings up 404 ERROR!! Most of the comments are grayed out. Any help?? Please? and Thank you.

  4. Spifynes

    I made this tonight and I followed the recipe exactly. A few things were wrong the baking soda has to be added with the cream or it curdles. I added a bit of salt but all in all it turned out pretty good. I’ve never had the original but this is the easiest recipe I’ve found that worked out perfectly.

    • Lu

      You add the baking soda before the cream and cook it so the cream won’t curdle. The baking soda takes the acid out. I have made this for years and never had a problem.

  5. Andrew Hoyt

    I used to cook at the 4b’s in Havre and sorry to tell you there are no onions in the soup, or chicken broth, and you use 1 part puree to 2 parts diced, use chicken BASE and mix that with the cream, and no baking soda. I suppose you could put in onions or onion powder.

    • Alan

      I cooked at 4bs in dee Lodgeabout 20 years ago and yes remember putting onions and chicken broth I asked other cooks and they said always onions and chicken broth. THey must have modified the recipe in Havre .

  6. Arielski

    Wow! I moved from Missoula many years and was devastated to hear the 4Bs on E. Broadway was closed. Thanks for the recipe!

  7. Micah5five

    There is still a 4B’s located just outside of Missoula. All the ones in town closed but the one located at the Wye “Where I90 and I93 intersect to head up to Kalispell” There is one on the South side of the Highway.

  8. Zootownmama

    As a server who worked for 4-b’s for several years…no, just no, this is not how it is made, you boil only the onions, butter and broth until the onions are clear, add to tomato stock (diced tom. AND crushed tom) next add soda and sugar and your cream (i suggest 8oz half/half, 8oz heavy whip.) In double boiler to prevent scorching and heat to at least 165 degrees

    • Zootownmama

      http://poski8.tripod.com/recipe/worldfamoustomatosoup.html….better site, exactly what I just explained above

      • Tammy

        I live in Albuquerque, NM and ate that soup every chance I got. Sadly it closed many years ago, and I’ve never found a replacement! I’ll definitely try this recipe and see if it brings back those memories.

      • Marlene

        I still have the red recipe card that we got from 4B’s in Missoula back in 1979. They had a stack of them next to the register. We’ve been making it at home ever since.

        32 oz. canned diced tomatoes
        1 can chicken broth
        1 T. butter
        2 T. sugar
        1 T. chopped onion
        pinch of baking soda
        2 c. cream

        Mix all but cream in stockpot and bring to boil; Reduce heat to low and simmer uncovered for 1 hour. Heat cream until hot but do not boil; slowly stir into tomato mixture. Do not boil after adding cream.

        We sometimes use the Better than Bouillon and water. We like more onion, so we add 1 small onion, finely chopped, about 1/4 c.

        2 c. cream makes it too rich for me, so we only add 1 c. It is still delicious, and has more tomato flavor. We have experimented with reducing butter and sugar, and using half-and-half instead of cream. None of the changes worked, the flavor is just not the same! I also prefer to use my stick blender to partly puree it.

        I never liked tomato soup until I my hubby insisted I try this. Now this is the only tomato soup I will eat. He is a trucker and ate this soup every chance he got, hundreds of times from 1970 through when they closed. He talked to cooks at several of the restaurants and they ALL said this is exactly how they make it!

        By the way, it is delicious as a cold soup, too.

  9. Lostheartinok

    I have not tried this recipe yet I will do so a little later. But if this is the true 4B’s recipes…WOW!
    I have tried for the last 25 years to find this recipe or try to match it. Originally from Oklahoma and move up there in the 80’s. the 4B’s restaruant was our favorite place to eat. I always had to have this soup “favorite” of mine. I hope that someday I will be able to come up that way to visit my friends and visit Polson to eat at my favorite restaruant. Thanks Christyb

  10. A girl

    born and raised in Missoula Montana, and it was one of the saddest days of my life, if only for this soup. Can’t make it too often (2 cups of cream!) but it’s always amazing. Personally, i like it with a ton of black pepper, and a lot of saltines. 🙂

      • Gary Straight

        I’m a cross country trucker and I’ve always planned my stops around 4B’s restaurants, especially for the tomato soup… I was terribly disappointed when the 4B’s started shutting down… I’ve bragged about that soup from coast to coast ????????

  11. A North Dakotan

    I LOVE LOVE LOVE 4B’s tomato soup! Thanks for the recipe. We alwyas made a point to stop at one of these restaurants on the way to see my daughter at college at Montana Tech! Thanks for the recipe!!!!!

  12. Shane

    Great recipe, but I am trying to find the 4b’s clam chowder recipe. Any help would be greatly appreciated!

  13. Jil

    Sadly all of the 4B’s are now closed. So having this recipe is an awesome find!! The Hainline’s created many memories for many generations of Montanan’s

    • Whitney

      5 stars
      I was at a 4 B’s location in Sept of 2017. They are not all closed. Went through there on a road trip. To Stephanie, the OG blogger, I haven’t tried your recipe yet, but am excited too!! Thanks girl ❤ AMAZING tomato soup!! I’ll let you know what I think ????

  14. Fellow Montanan

    I do love this recipe. I have made it for quite a few years since I don’t have a 4B’s close but love the soup. It is easy to make.

4.91 from 22 votes (9 ratings without comment)

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