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 alongside this soup, and you’ve got the perfect winter comfort food. Plus, you’ll have just fed your family a bowl full of vegetables!
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 medium onions, chopped
- 2 medium carrots, chopped
- 2 celery rib, chopped
- 4-6 garlic cloves, chopped
- ½ tsp red pepper flakes (more or less to taste)
- salt and pepper, to taste
- 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)
- ½-3/4 cup half and half
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- hot sauce, to taste
- 1 cup croutons, for garnish (optional)
- freshly grated Parmesan cheese (optional)
- In a large stockpot or dutch oven, heat 4 tablespoons of olive oil over medium high heat.
- Add the chopped onion, carrot, celery, and garlic. Then, season with salt, pepper, and red pepper. Stir occasionally until the vegetables are just beginning to brown, about 5 minutes.
- 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.
- 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. 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.
- 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.
To Freeze: Full cook and fully cool. Freeze in a freezer container or bag and seal well. Store up to three months in freezer.
To Prepare: Thaw in the refrigerator or using the defrost setting in the microwave. Warm over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally.