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Panera Style Creamy Tomato Soup

Creamy Tomato Soup

 

I am in love with the Creamy Tomato Soup at Panera. There. I said it.

I will also admit the same thing on behalf of my dad.  And my mom. Fine…we all have a crush on the soup.

About three years ago, at my dad’s request, I began a quest to recreate the soup at home. After a lot of research and test pots of soup, I finally came up with a blend that is crazy close to the restaurant version that I can make anytime.

Creamy Tomato Soup

Panera Style Creamy Tomato Soup

Ingredients

1/4 cup butter

2 T. extra virgin olive oil

1 cup diced onion

4 cloves minced garlic

Two 28 ounce cans of peeled tomatoes (San Marzanos are fabulous for this)

2 T. tomato paste

1 T. sugar

1 t. salt

1/4 t. dried oregano

1/8 t. crushed red pepper flakes

1 Panera Asiago Cheese foccacia bread, cut into small cubes

2 T. fresh basil – chopped (or 1 t. dried basil)

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1 cup (8 ounces) heavy cream (not as amazing, but half & half is ok, too)

Directions

  1. Preheat over to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. In a large pot, heat butter and olive oil over medium heat. Add onions and saute until translucent, 8-10 minutes. Add minced garlic and saute another 3 or 4 minutes.
  3. Add tomatoes, tomato paste, sugar, salt, oregano and pepper flakes to the onion mixture. If using dried basil, add it now as well.  Allow to simmer over low heat for 30 minutes.
  4. While the soup is simmering, place cubed bread in an even layer on a baking sheet. Bake for 12-14 minutes or until bread has dried and turned into golden brown croutons.
  5. If using fresh basil, add it to the pot along with the Parmesan cheese.  Add half of the croutons to thicken and flavor the soup. Simmer another 5 minutes.
  6. Carefully blend the soup until smooth using an immersion blender or in batches in a blender or food processor. Return soup to pot.
  7. Stir in the heavy cream and check for seasoning – add a bit more salt and pepper if needed.
  8. Serve with more croutons on top. You can also add more Parmesan cheese and garnish with fresh basil.

This soup freezes very well. We usually portion it out in pint jars.