Tomato Bisque Recipe {Freezer Meal}

Tomato Bisque: A Panera Bread fake-out recipe. Freezer Friendly, healthy dinner idea!
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!

Tomato Bisque from "From Freezer to Table" Cookbook. Order at today.

Tomato Bisque Recipe (Panera Bread Fake-Out)

  • Author: Thriving Home
  • Yield: 8-10 1x


This comforting, hearty bisque is full of nutrition and rich flavor! It will win over kids and adults alike!


  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 medium onions, chopped
  • 2 medium carrots, chopped
  • 2 celery rib, chopped
  • 46 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1/2 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)
  • 1/23/4 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Sprinkle the flour over the vegetables and stir for 1 minute, or until flour is fully incorporated.
  4. Add the chicken stock, tomatoes, tomato paste, and sugar.
  5. Season lightly with more with salt and pepper, if you’d like.
  6. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer (over about medium heat) and cover partially.
  7. Stir occasionally until the vegetables are tender, about 15 minutes.
  8. 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.
  9. Add the half and half and cook over medium-low until the soup is just heated through.
  10. Taste and then season the soup with salt, pepper, and hot sauce to your preference.
  11. Swirl in the 4 tablespoons of butter.
  12. Ladle the soup into bowls, garnish with croutons, fresh shredded Parmesan cheese, and serve.


Freezer Meal Instructions:
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.

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  2. Jodie says

    One of my family’s favorite soups. Delicious, easy, and makes a ton! Having family-sizes portions in the freezer is such a help.

    • Rachel says

      Love hearing this, Jodie. Thanks!

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  4. Mandy says

    I don’t see where you add bay leaves only remove them. Does the recipe call for bay leaves? There are a lot of ingredients, maybe I keep skipping over it.

    • Rachel says

      Thanks for catching that. I removed the bay leaves from the ingredients a while back (because they don’t make a taste difference) but missed it in the ingredients. I just updated the recipe. Thanks again!

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  9. Anonymous says

    Just out of curiosity, could I use regular crushed tomatoes? I couldn’t find fire-roasted tomatoes. This sounds like an amazing recipe and I can not wait to try it!!!

    • Rachel says

      Sure! I have many times. It’s still really good, but the fire-roasted just take it over the top.

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  17. Gretchen says

    This is by far one of my favorites!! Taking it to some teachers tomorrow! 🙂

  18. Natalie says

    There aren’t words for how much I love this soup! I made a double batch to divide up and deliver some to a family that just adopted a baby and of course, for us to eat tonight. For the double batch I used 1 c. 1/2 and 1/2 and 4 T of butter to cut down on the saturated fat and it’s plenty rich. Yum!

    • Rachel says

      Natalie, oh I love that you love this soup too. I always make a ginormous (sp?) batch and freeze half. Glad you could bless others with it too. And I agree…it’s easy to cut down on the fat since there’s so much flavor going on in this soup.

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  21. Sara says

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

    • Rachel says

      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.

  22. Julie says

    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 says

      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!

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  24. tina says

    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 says

      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!

  25. Devin says

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

    • Rachel says

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

      • Devin says

        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!

  26. Rachel says

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

  27. Kathy says

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

    • Carolina says

      Hi! I’m wondering how and when to freeze this soup, right after pureeing and adding the half and half or after it’s fully made? Thank you!

      • Rachel says

        Thanks for reminding me that I need to add freezer meal instructions (coming soon!). Freeze after it’s completely done and cooled. I’ve done it this way many times and it works perfectly!

        • Anonymous says

          Just a friendly reminder that the freezer tips are not up yet. Soups are pretty simple though, just place cooled soup in freezer bags and lay them in your freezer. Good for a solid three months

          • Rachel says

            Thanks for the reminder! I just added them, and I’d contend that it will stay good for much longer than 3 months if sealed really well at the back of the freezer. At least, that’s been the case for me many times. 😉