Despite the heat, my mind and body have already decided it is Fall. Like full on FALL. I am ready to hang my beautiful pumpkin wreath my Mom and I made last year. I am asking anybody and everybody I know to go to Hobby Lobby to buy Fall decorations for my house. And I am fighting myself on getting a Pumpkin Spice Latte from Starbucks. Yes I know you could get them early with the secret passcode and now they are being sold normally. I refused. How can I drink a pumpkin flavored hot coffee in this weather? It’s just not ok.

But somehow my craving for soups is even stronger than my craving for pumpkin spice lattes and fall decorations. I have a notebook where I keep ideas of recipes I want to make. If you look at it today, it has 11 soups in a row — no joke. I keep asking Jorge if he will eat soup for dinner yet…and his answer is “NO.” every. single. time.  And I always ask back, but what about Corn Chowder?? No! Chicken & Dumplings?? No! How about Sweet Potato Soup?? No! Ok, ok what about your favorite — Baked Potato Soup with extra bacon? NO! No soup until it’s under 80 degrees!

(Pssst! You can find 15 of my soup recipes here.)

So I finally said screw you, I’m making soup. Tomato Soup like Panera and you can’t have any! Well ladies and gents, guess who ate a big bowl of this amazing tomato soup and a big grilled cheese??  In case you are keeping score:    Jessica – 1     Jorge – 0


This tomato soup is a recipe that has been a long time in the making. I tried using fresh tomatoes, but it was double the time and the flavor wasn’t close enough to the one I love to get at Panera. “Creamy” is in the name, but the soup at Panera is really not all that creamy. So I learned to use only a little half and half. I added a little sugar to cut the acidity of the tomatoes and not too much basil.

Is this the exact same soup you get from Panera? No, probably not exactly. However, it is dang close to it! And bonus? It only takes 30 minutes to make! The next time I make it, I plan on making a triple batch to freeze. That way whenever I am in the mood, I can just pull a bag out from the freezer!

P.S. To make your meal perfect, make a grilled cheese with fresh thick sourdough bread, havarti cheese and real butter. That is my PERFECT grilled cheese.

Creamy Tomato Soup (Panera Copycat Recipe)

Yield: 4 servings

Total Time: 30 Minutes

Recipe Note: I really like San Marzano canned tomatoes, especially for this recipe. I buy the Cento brand and can find it every where from Walmart to Publix (this is what the can looks like). 


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 large yellow onion, sliced
  • 2 (28 oz) cans San Marzano peeled tomatoes
  • 1 cup chicken stock (or vegetable stock)
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/4 cup half and half
  • 8 large fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste


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.

Add San Marzano peeled tomatoes (juice and all), chicken stock, and sugar. Bring to a low simmer. Cook uncovered, for 12 minutes or until it has thickened.

Add the half and half, basil, oregano and season to taste with salt and pepper.

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!

Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months.