• Tomato Bisque Recipe (Panera Bread Fake-Out)

    by Rachel on January 18, 2013

    tomato bisque panera bread fake-out

    Anyone a big fan of Panera’s Tomato Bisque? I may have found a recipe as good or better. That’s a bold claim, I know. It began with this recipe from Food & Wine. But, then I added a few healthy spins to it–ones that did not sacrifice taste in any way I assure you!

    The result was a huge home run with my entire family and a few of our friends on New Year’s Eve. I’m talking picky little kids and foodie adults, people. There are few recipes in my repertoire that I can honestly say that about.

    My kids affectionately called it “ketchup soup,” in honor of their favorite condiment (and side dish). My husband and I just call it a soup worthy of a special occasion or any night.

    Here are a few things you may want to know before making this soup:

    • I wrote the recipe for a crowd or for your family to have enough to freeze for later. If you want just enough for one 4 person meal, just simply cut it in half.
    • Seasoning all along the way is key to deep flavor. Season with S & P when you saute the veggies, season again when you add the liquids, and finally season at the end after tasting. But, don’t get too heavy-handed at the get go!
    • We also loved the kicked-up addition of the hot sauce at the end. I just left it out of the kids’ bowls.

    Add a gourmet grilled cheese along side this soup, and you’ve got the perfect winter comfort food. Plus, you’ll have just fed your family a bowl full of vegetables!

    tomato bisque panera bread fake-out recipe

    Tomato Bisque Recipe (Panera Bread Fake-Out)

    Yields: Makes: 8-10 servings

    This comforting, hearty bisque is full of nutrition and rich flavor!


    • 4 tablespoons olive oil
    • 2 medium onions, chopped
    • 2 medium carrots, chopped
    • 2 celery rib, chopped
    • 4-6 garlic cloves, chopped
    • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes (more or less to taste)
    • salt and pepper, to taste
    • 2 bay leaves
    • 6 tablespoons whole wheat flour
    • 8 cups (2 quarts) organic low-sodium chicken stock or broth
    • Two 28-ounce cans diced fire-roasted tomatoes, drained (look for BPA-free cans)
    • 6 tablespoons tomato paste (look for BPA-free cans)
    • 4 teaspoons sugar (I used unrefined raw sugar)
    • 1/2-3/4 cup half and half
    • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
    • hot sauce, to taste
    • 1 cup croutons, for garnish (optional)
    • freshly grated Parmesan cheese (optional)


    1. In a large stockpot or dutch oven, heat 4 tablespoons of olive oil over medium high heat. Add the chopped onion, carrot, celery, garlic, and bay leaves. Then, season with salt, pepper, and red pepper. Stir occasionally until the vegetables are just beginning to brown, about 5 minutes.

    2. Sprinkle the flour over the vegetables and stir for 1 minute, or until flour is fully incorporated. Add the chicken stock, tomatoes, tomato paste and sugar. Season lightly with more with salt and pepper, if you'd like. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer (over about medium heat) and cover partially. Stir occasionally until the vegetables are tender, about 15 minutes.

    3. Remove the bay leaves. Transfer the soup in batches to a blender (or use an immersion blender) and puree until fairly smooth. (Note: Please be careful during this step! Don't fill the blender full, and cover the lid with a towel and hold securely while blending so the lid doesn't pop off.) Carefully, return the puree to the saucepan.

    4. Add the half and half and cook over medium-low until the soup is just heated through. Taste and then season the soup with salt, pepper, and hot sauce to your preference. Swirl in the 4 tablespoons of butter. Ladle the soup into bowls, garnish with croutons, fresh shredded Parmesan cheese, and serve.


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    { 11 comments… read them below or add one }

    Kathy January 18, 2013 at 12:59 pm

    This recipe sounds delicious. Was soup the meal or did you make sandwiches on the side?


    Rachel January 18, 2013 at 6:26 pm

    We made grilled paninis on the side at New Year’s Eve. Perfect for dipping.


    Devin January 18, 2013 at 7:57 pm

    Oooo! Hoping to make this for my next freezer club meal!


    Rachel January 19, 2013 at 2:21 am

    :) Glad the FC lives on in the south. Will it stay alive in Chicago??


    Devin January 21, 2013 at 9:03 pm

    It better! We’ll just see how long it takes to recruit. It only took me about 5 months to find enough people in San Antonio, but it took me almost 2 years here. Hopefully, there will be lots of ladies ready to save money and time :)! And we’ll have better access to better food. I’m on a FC Mission…spreading it all around!


    tina January 18, 2013 at 8:43 pm

    Girl please and thank you! I am huge fan of this soup at Panera b/c I believe it is g-free & I have been looking for a good tomato soup recipe…thank you thank you!


    Rachel January 19, 2013 at 2:20 am

    Awesome, Tina. Yes, I think you can easily make this GF. It does have flour in it, but surely you can sub with some GF-friendly flour (or maybe just leave it out?). I hope you enjoy it as much as we do!


    Julie February 20, 2013 at 5:50 am

    This soup was very good! I used three pounds of fresh tomatoes (cut them in half and put them in the blender w/ a little water) instead of canned. My guest said it was “like Panera’s, but better” Thanks for the recipe! I will be making it again.


    Rachel February 21, 2013 at 9:07 am

    Oh happy day! I’m so glad to hear you say that. Sometimes I wonder if it’s just me (and my parents who always say stuff like that because they’re my parents, right?) who think it’s that good. Glad you enjoyed it!


    Sara June 27, 2013 at 8:32 am

    The soup sounds delish! Did it freeze well with the half and half? Just wondering..


    Rachel June 27, 2013 at 12:05 pm

    Good question. It did great even with the half and half, but you could always leave it out and add it when you reheat if worried.


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