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Copycat Panera's creamy tomato soup

Copycat recipe: Panera creamy tomato soup

Growing up, I had an aversion to creamy tomato soups. Maybe it’s because I was raised on the bright-red hue and salty flavor of Campbell’s with plenty of those little square cheese crackers in an off-brand. Yeah. That’s right. The crackers could be off-brand. The soup had to be Campbell’s. Eating terrible canned soup is how you survive a zombie apocalypse, not how you brown-bag your lunch. I’m no stranger to committing desperate acts to stay alive — in college, I once survived an entire week on the 69-cent Taco Bell burritos I could afford from the change in my couch — but that should be a last resort, not the goal.

As an adult, not only do I lose way less change in my couch (because who carries cash anymore, much less change?), I’ve expanded my tomato soup palate to include the creamy stuff — for better or worse, calorie-wise.

This copycat Panera creamy tomato-basil soup is almost as easy as making the canned stuff. In fact, it relies heavily on other canned goods, with chopped fresh herbs to give it that flavorful, from-scratch flavor. So if you can use a can opener and a knife, you’re home free.

The cream is the key to giving it that rich, silky-smooth texture, but if you’re looking to avoid the saturated fat it adds, try the one found here. It uses milk, cornstarch and flour to replicate that butterfat mouthfeel. I haven’t tried this method for this particular recipe, but I have in others, and it works well. Almond milk and low-fat milk have around the same fat content, so try that to make it vegan.

For an even healthier take, I found a really interesting tip on Cooking Light that uses chicken stock, instant brown rice and low-fat milk to make a nutty cream that has only 107 calories/0.5 grams saturated fat per cup (as opposed to the whopping 828 calories/55 grams saturated fat of heavy cream). I haven’t tried this yet, but it looks promising. You could probably make it vegan by using vegetable stock instead of chicken and almond milk instead of the low-fat milk (they have about the same fat content).

If you try those substitutions, shoot us a note about how it works so we can update our readers. (Sorry, comments are currently disabled because we don’t have time to police them for spam.)

Image: ForkingSpoon



Panera-style creamy tomato soup recipe

Yields4 Servings

This copycat recipe of Panera-style creamy tomato basil soup, made with roasted tomatoes and fresh herbs, brings this classic soup right into your kitchen.

Prep Time20 minsCook Time1 hr 15 minsTotal Time1 hr 35 mins

Ingredients

 2 (28-ounce) cans of whole tomatoes
 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
 3 tablespoons olive oil (divided)
 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped or grated
 ½ teaspoon black pepper
 1 yellow onion, roughly chopped
 1 cup vegetable stock
 1 tablespoon tomato paste
 ¼ cup heavy cream
 ¼ cup Parmesan cheese, grated
 6 leaves fresh basil, roughly chopped
 ¼ cup fresh parsley, roughly chopped
 ¼ teaspoon dried oregano
 ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
 ¼ teaspoon salt
 2 slices toasted bread (for serving)

Instructions

1

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

2

Drain the tomatoes
Drain the tomatoes into a bowl to reserve the juice. Cut the tomatoes in half and gently squeeze out as much juice and pulp as possible into the bowl of reserved juices without destroying the tomatoes.

3

Roast the tomatoes and garlic
On a baking sheet, layout the tomatoes in a single layer and drizzle with the balsamic vinegar and 1-1/2 tablespoons of olive oil. Toss gently to coat the tomatoes. Sprinkle with the black pepper. Place the unpeeled garlic cloves onto a small piece of aluminum foil and drizzle with 1/2 teaspoon of olive oil. Wrap in foil packet. Cook for 45 minutes or until the tomatoes are deep red.

4

Sauté the onions and add tomatoes and stock
In a heavy-bottomed sauce pan or French oven over medium heat, cook the onion in 1 tablespoon of olive oil for 5-7 minutes or until the onions become fragrant and tender. Add in the reserved tomato juice, roasted tomatoes, vegetable stock and tomato paste. Cook uncovered for 10 minutes or until the soup has thickened.

5

Add the herbs
Stir in the Parmesan, basil, parsley, oregano, red pepper flakes and salt and continue to cook for another 5-7 minutes or until the grated Parmesan has completely dissolved.

6

Blend and strain the soup
Transfer soup to a blender and puree until the soup is smooth. While the soup is blending, slowly add in the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Press the soup through a fine mesh strainer back into the saucepan.

7

Add the heavy cream
Fold in the heavy cream and let the soup simmer for 3 to 5 minutes to finish. Garnish with a drizzle of sherry vinegar, toasted bread, fresh parsley and Parmesan shavings.


Notes

You can also substitute yogurt for heavy cream, just remember to add in 2 teaspoons of flour or corn starch per 1 cup of yogurt to make up for the lost fat of the cream. Whisk the corn starch or flour together with the yogurt before adding it to the hot soup. Also, keep in mind that the acid in yogurt reacts with aluminum.

Ingredients

 2 (28-ounce) cans of whole tomatoes
 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
 3 tablespoons olive oil (divided)
 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped or grated
 ½ teaspoon black pepper
 1 yellow onion, roughly chopped
 1 cup vegetable stock
 1 tablespoon tomato paste
 ¼ cup heavy cream
 ¼ cup Parmesan cheese, grated
 6 leaves fresh basil, roughly chopped
 ¼ cup fresh parsley, roughly chopped
 ¼ teaspoon dried oregano
 ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
 ¼ teaspoon salt
 2 slices toasted bread (for serving)

Directions

1

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

2

Drain the tomatoes
Drain the tomatoes into a bowl to reserve the juice. Cut the tomatoes in half and gently squeeze out as much juice and pulp as possible into the bowl of reserved juices without destroying the tomatoes.

3

Roast the tomatoes and garlic
On a baking sheet, layout the tomatoes in a single layer and drizzle with the balsamic vinegar and 1-1/2 tablespoons of olive oil. Toss gently to coat the tomatoes. Sprinkle with the black pepper. Place the unpeeled garlic cloves onto a small piece of aluminum foil and drizzle with 1/2 teaspoon of olive oil. Wrap in foil packet. Cook for 45 minutes or until the tomatoes are deep red.

4

Sauté the onions and add tomatoes and stock
In a heavy-bottomed sauce pan or French oven over medium heat, cook the onion in 1 tablespoon of olive oil for 5-7 minutes or until the onions become fragrant and tender. Add in the reserved tomato juice, roasted tomatoes, vegetable stock and tomato paste. Cook uncovered for 10 minutes or until the soup has thickened.

5

Add the herbs
Stir in the Parmesan, basil, parsley, oregano, red pepper flakes and salt and continue to cook for another 5-7 minutes or until the grated Parmesan has completely dissolved.

6

Blend and strain the soup
Transfer soup to a blender and puree until the soup is smooth. While the soup is blending, slowly add in the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Press the soup through a fine mesh strainer back into the saucepan.

7

Add the heavy cream
Fold in the heavy cream and let the soup simmer for 3 to 5 minutes to finish. Garnish with a drizzle of sherry vinegar, toasted bread, fresh parsley and Parmesan shavings.

Panera-style creamy tomato soup


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