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


    • Shell

      The TA truck stop still serves 4B’s Tomato Soup everyday. A waitress told us that it was in sch demand that they got permission to serve it. I always stop in for a bowl on our way thru.

  1. Deborah Callahan

    5 stars
    We used to live in Miles City, MT and the tomato soup at 4B’s was the best. Thanks so much for the recipe.

  2. Scott Myhre

    5 stars
    I worked for Bill Hainline in the Missoula MT. 4 B’s, right out of high school in 1967, and this was a real staple recipe with grilled cheese sandwich’s in the fall. It was Barb Hainline’s mother’s recipe, that was handed down in the family for years. We gave out this recipe to anyone that requested it and that was a lot of people! I still make it to this day with one change, the original recipe used one cup of whipping cream and one cup of coffee creamer, which was Nestlie’s Original Coffee Mate.

    • Deena Sunchild

      Would you happen to know the potato soup recipe?? That was my favorite and I been wanting to try to make it, but do not know how.

  3. Ann

    I enjoyed this soup in Loveland, CO . We were so sad when it closed. My Father-in-law and I especially loved this soup. I was given the recipe many years ago. It’s amazing. I just bought the ingredients and then wondered if there might be a copy cat on line and sure enough.

  4. Kitty

    5 stars
    Do you have the 4B’s Clam Chowder recipe?
    My family would go to the 4B’s in Grant/Milan New Mexico. They closed down. I love the tomato soup, but I’ve never anything close to the 4B’s Clam Chowder.
    I’ve had Clam Chowder in a sour dough bread bowl in San Francisco and it’s amazing. I’ve had lots of amazing Clam Chowder.
    But I miss the 4B’s version. It’s reminds me of my childhood.

  5. Bruce Lancaster

    5 stars
    If you want it to be just a little bit more authentic, do this: “In a large stockpot mix tomatoes, chicken broth, margarine, onion, and baking soda. Simmer for 1 hour” and then freeze that part in a 1 gallon plastic container. – Then, sometime later, take it out of the freezer,let thaw just enough the ice block will come out of the container, plop that tomato/chicken stock etc ice block in to a double boiler, pour in the cream, cover, and raise to eating temperature stirring often. .. I was a 4Bs cook in Helena for several years. The tomato soup stock came to us via truck and we stored about a months worth in the walk in freezer.

    • Michelle

      Thank you so much! Billings native living in Nebraska. I miss this soup so much! I was just wondering how I could make it so it froze well. Bless you!

  6. Richard Bennett

    I used eat here all the time best tomato soup I have ever had .used to get a bowl three times a week in the cold Montana winters thank you to who posted this blast from the past

  7. Penny Velk

    5 stars
    The golden rule is Always add acid. Too keep the soup from curdling add some of the tomato mixture to your warmed cream with a pinch of soda. Then add it to the rest of the soup. Just like you temper eggs.

  8. Jeffrey Sellegren

    3 stars
    Here’s the one I have
    1 tablespoon onion, chopped
    1 pinch baking soda
    2 cups cream
    28 ounces tomatoes, canned and diced
    9 ounces chicken broth
    1 ounce butter
    2 tablespoons sugar

    1 Mix tomatoes, chicken broth, butter, sugar, onions and soda.
    2 Simmer over low heat for 1 hour.
    3 Heat cream in a double boiler.
    4 Add cream to hot tomato mixture and serve.

    • Mark Dornon

      You have the correct recipe. They have an error in their recipe. It has condensed chicken soup and it should be chicken broth. It’s says broth in the direction but soup in recipe. Good stuff for sure.

    • Paula

      This is THE best recipe… except I don’t use that much cream. I don’t like it that thick so I dilute it 1 c cream & 1 c water. And I found out by accident that it freezes well even with the cream!

  9. JeanneMcLeod

    The recipe card I received from 4B’s in Missoula quite a few years ago calls for 9 ounces chicken broth. I seed and dice 32 ounces of my own homegrown tomatoes. The recipe says to simmer the tomatoes, broth, butter, sugar, onions & soda for one hour. My question is simmering done with or without a lid?

  10. MARY

    5 stars
    Warm memories of this soup, when my mother was alive it was her favorite.she always had to go to 4B’s for soup. 4BS did close in for a few years in Missoula…but it reopen up by the U of M about 2 years ago. This soup is a Missoula MT icon… so happy to have this recipe. It’s easy and comforting to eat on a cold winter nite or afternoon….

  11. Cateland White

    We lived in Hamilton, MT 25 yrs ago, playing music throughout the valley. 4B’s was our late night go- to spot and the tomato soup my rave crave! Lol. My recipe came handwritten from the cook, modified, he said, for cooking at home. I’ve used the creamer and half and half and mixtures of the two, depending on how much I could afford. The real ‘secret’ is the baking soda because it nullifies the acid. Thanks for the memories!

4.91 from 22 votes (9 ratings without comment)

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