Since we’re on the subject of restaurants, one that used to be one of my favorites is Panera Bread. I say ‘used to be’ because recently our local one has made my ‘no-go’ list. Overnight, it’s dirty, poorly staffed, expensive, and I even hate the new mix of music they play. Oh, and remember hanging out and surfing the net munching sweets and drinking coffee – no more. There’s 30 minute wi-fi limit. So, Panera has gone the way of Mickey-D’s (another no-go) ‘Get ‘em in and get ‘em out’.  Maybe your neighborhood one isn’t like this, but I’m speaking strictly local here. What’s a girl to do – make some of the favorites myself. Since it’s cold and rainy… how about a Fresh Tomato Soup straight from their website. Sure, why not.

Panera Fresh Tomato Soup:

1 Tbl Olive Oil

1 Tbl Butter * optional

1 large Onion, chopped

1 large Garlic clove, minced

2 ribs, Celery, chopped

1 Tbl Flour

5 large, super-ripe Tomatoes (about 4 lb) chopped

1 tsp Sugar

4 Basil leaves, + 1 Tbl chopped (for garnish)

3/4 tsp Salt

1/8 tsp Black Pepper

Pinch of Cayenne Pepper

Step 1
Step 1

Step 1

Make sure those ‘matoes are really ripe. These, in hind-sight, weren’t really as good as they could be. Next time I’ll opt to use the box tomatoes and add a few fresh for taste. The celery, as a trick, lives wrapped in a paper towel and then foil…it keeps forever!

Step 2
Step 2

Step 2

Get everything chopped.

Step 3
Step 3

Step 3

Saute the celery and onion until soft (but not brown) in the oil/butter, then add the garlic. Add in the flour and stir in.

Step 4

This doesn’t look like much…

After a few minutes...
After a few minutes…





now we're talking...
now we’re talking…









Add in the basil, sugar and spices. Let it simmer a bit. Smells amazing!

Step 5
Step 5

Step 5

OK, now e’re ready to blend. If you’ve got an emersion blender, get it. Or just work in batches with a regular blender.


I can’t show you how to do this because I only have 2 hands and I need BOTH of them for this. Seriously, hold it upright and use the pulse function ONLY. 

Finale !
That’s it ! (oops, is that a toe? – on the floor silly LOL)


That’s it. Really good and warm and yummy and totally ON your diet !! You can add a touch of cream to make it more luscious. It’s ok, I won’t tell.


Some multi grain crackers and you’re good to go. 

Oh, wait – I have a prettier plate…

Looks good enough to eat !
Looks good enough to eat !

I’m working on the whole ‘food styling’ thing. 

Go and make this – it keeps a long time in the fridge – and your diet needs all the vitamins packed in this tiny bowl of goodness. This is NOT your Mom’s re-constitued ‘Red & White’ canned soup. This is the real thing – mmmmmm good. 

Fresh Tomato Soup
This isn't Mom's red & white canned variety.
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  1. 1 Tbl Olive Oil
  2. 1 Tbl Butter * optional
  3. 1 large Onion, chopped
  4. 1 large Garlic clove, minced
  5. 2 ribs, Celery, chopped
  6. 1 Tbl Flour
  7. 5 large, super-ripe Tomatoes (about 4 lb) chopped
  8. 1 tsp Sugar
  9. 4 Basil leaves, + 1 Tbl chopped (for garnish)
  10. 3/4 tsp Salt
  11. 1/8 tsp Black Pepper
  12. Pinch of Cayenne Pepper
  1. Saute onion, celery, and garlic in oil. Add flour, then tomatoes. Add in basil, sugar and spices. Simmer a bit and then blend up until smooth.
  1. You can serve this with some sourdough,...or stay healthy and stick to multi-grain crackers.
Adapted from Panera Bread
Adapted from Panera Bread

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