Simple and Delicious: Copycat Panera Creamy Tomato Soup

Copycat Panera Creamy Tomato Soup

All the recent talk about “fast casual” dining made us hungry for one dish in particular, and that’s Panera Bread’s Creamy Tomato Soup.  In fact, some of us are semi-addicted to it.  All that wholesome, velvety goodness. Add a hunk of crusty boule or a couple pieces of warm rosemary-scented focaccia, and we don’t even need a main course.

Of course, it’s not always possible to get out to the nearest Panera to fill the craving when it takes hold. And breaking out a can of Campbell’s tomato soup just doesn’t get it done. In cases of the most severe home-bound cravings for this delectable soup, only one thing will do: a flavor-packed copycat recipe more than worthy of the real thing!

Yield: 4 servings

Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients

2 Tbps Olive Oil

1 Tbp Unsalted Butter

1 Cup of Vegetable Stock (could substitute Chicken Stock)

1 Large Spanish Onion, minced

4 Cloves of Garlic, chopped finely

1/2 Tsp of Red Pepper Flakes

2 28 oz Cans of Diced San Marzano Peeled Tomatoes

10 Small Grape or Bite-Sized Pear Tomatoes, diced

1 Tbp Wild Honey

1/4 Cup of Half and Half

10 Large Basil Leaves, chopped roughly

4-6 Whole Basil Leaves, for garnish

1 Tbp Fresh Oregano, minced

3 Tbps Freshly Grated Reggiana Parmigiana Cheese

2 Tbps Freshly Grated Romano Cheese

Dash of Aged Balsamic Vinegar from Modena, Italy

Salt and Freshly Ground Pepper, to Taste

Fresh bread for serving

Instructions

In a large, heavy-bottomed pot, heat olive oil and butter over medium heat. Just as the butter has completely melted, but before it begins to bubble in the olive oil, add the minced onions and stir, cooking them until translucent, about 8 minutes.

Add red pepper flakes and garlic and sauté until the garlic is fragrant and softened, but before it begins turning brown. This usually takes about one minute.

Add to the pot the San Marzano tomatoes from the cans with their juice, the diced fresh tomatoes, the stock and the honey. Turn heat to medium-high and when the contents of the pot begin to boil, immediately turn the pot down to simmer. Cook until slightly thickened, about 10-12 minutes.

Add the half and half, basil, and oregano. Stir until incorporated.

Using an immersion blender, carefully puree the soup until there are no large chunks left. Then slowly stir in the grated cheeses and continue stirring until they are completely melted, but smoothly integrated into the soup and not left to clump. Add a dash of balsamic vinegar to the soup, and stir in completely.

Ladle into bowls, garnish with whole Basil leaves, and serve immediately with bread!

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