Saturday, May 28, 2011

Panera-ish Creamy Tomato Soup

Last year I developed a passion for Panera Bread's creamy tomato soup. Ever since tasting it for the first time, I haven't been able to enter their restaurant without having a bowl. So intense was my love, that I wanted to duplicate it at home so I could enjoy it without the price tag. I found a copycat recipe online, but I wasn't crazy about it the first time I made it. It just did not measure up to the Panera standard. I tried it again with a few modifications, and now I think I can declare it wholly awesome. Even the girls eat it with apathetic tolerance (and that is saying a lot when we're talking about tomato-based foods and my girls).

Inexplicably, it was one of the foods which suddenly seemed abhorrent to me during the first trimester of my last pregnancy. So it was shelved for a respectful amount of time in order to purge my soul of all first trimester prejudices, and has only recently enjoyed a revival in our house. Pregnant women are insane.

Here it is in all it's oh-so-much-better-than-Campbells glory

The green you see is basil pesto stirred in (recommend!)

Here is the recipe:

4 cups crushed tomatoes
3 cups milk
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 large clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1 1/2 tsp sugar
1 bay leaf
Salt and Pepper to taste

In a bowl, stir the baking soda into the tomatoes. This will prevent curdling between the tomatoes and milk (Supposedly. Once on a particularly dare-devilish sort of day, I actually skipped this step and couldn't tell the difference. If you are a more cautious sort whose blood curdles just at the mention of the word "curdle" then you should probably do it just to be safe). Set aside. Cook the onion and garlic in the butter until translucent. Add flour and stir and cook onions for about 1 more minute. Stir in milk, bay leaf, sugar, and oregano. Stir over medium heat until slightly thickened. Add tomatoes and cook until heated through. Salt and pepper to taste.

A variation I really enjoy lately is to reduce the tomatoes to 3 cups and add 1 cup of pureed roasted red peppers (in their juice) for even more flavor. Yum! Sam's sells a huge jar of roasted peppers for $4.

What is your favorite soup?


Mike and Katie said...

I totally agree: Pregnant women are insane. Only slighty more insane are non-pregnant women who think, "Despite eight months of nausea last time, I'd sure like another baby." ;)

Jessie's Girls said...

That's the truth! I hope yours isn't too bad!