I enjoy the warmth and coziness of snuggling up with a bowl of soup.  And, since it’s winter, I’m all about the soups. I especially enjoy it when it’s a homemade, less expensive dupe to Panera Bread or any other restaurant for that matter.

After craving some tomato basil soup, I searched the web for a copycat recipe. To my surprise, I found that tomato soup actually uses chicken broth. I would have never have known! Note to all of the vegans and vegetarians out there for when you’re dining out. Of course I had to find a vegetarian/vegan modification. Here’s my modified Panera Bread Creamy Tomato Soup Recipe adopted from The Novice Chef. It goes excellent with a grilled cheese sandwich or french bread.

Ingredients (4 Servings)

2 tablespoons vegetable or olive oil
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 large yellow onion, sliced
2 (28 oz) cans peeled tomatoes
1 cup vegetable stock
2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 cup half and half (exclude for vegan option)
8 large fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
Salt & pepper to taste


1. In a heavy bottomed pot (or dutch oven), heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add garlic and saute for 30 seconds – until fragrant. Add onion and cook, stirring as needed, until translucent – about 8 minutes.

2. Add peeled tomatoes (juice and all), vegetable stock, and sugar. Bring to a low simmer. Cook uncovered, for 12 minutes or until it has thickened.
3. Add the half and half (optional), basil, oregano and season to taste with salt and pepper.
4. Using an immersion blender (or carefully transfer soup to a blender), puree soup until there are no large chunks left. Serve immediately with a grilled cheese or hunk of warm french bread!
5. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months.