Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Creamy Tomato Soup 12/30/09

I have never been a huge fan of tomatoes. I love pizza and ketchup, but besides those two tomato-based condiments, I've never cared for anything else dealing with tomatoes. Well all that changed about 2 years ago when a friend begged me to try her tomato basil soup at Panera. "It tastes like liquid pizza," she exclaimed. Well, of course that sold me, I had to try it. And lets just say ever since that day, the creamy tomato soup has been my choice of soups when available. I've even started eating other foods with cooked tomato pieces. The combination of tomatoes and basil, especially when cheese is added, just simply can't be beat. So since that time, it has been my goal to find a good tomato soup recipe. I've only tried one before, Bobby Flay's opponent's from Throw Down, and my husband and I were disappointed. Nothing like the comforting soup from Panera. Well this is try #2. This is from a news station site and is supposedly Panera's recipe.

The case:
Creamy Tomato Soup with Asiago Croutons

From the Panera Bread Kitchen
Serves 6
5 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup chopped onion
4 tablespoons flour
4 cups milk
1/2 bay leaf
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3 cups tomatoes, chopped (fresh or canned)
Adding baking soda to the tomatoes keeps the milk from curdling
1 Loaf of Asiago Bread(sliced Thick)

Melt the Butter in a soup pot.
Add the onion and cook over medium heat, stirring, until the onion is softened but not browned.
Sprinkle the flour over the butter mixture and continue to stir and cook for 1 to 2 minutes.
Slowly add the milk, bay leaf, sugar, and salt and continue to cook and stir until slightly thickened.
Stir the baking soda into the tomatoes.
Add the tomatoes to the milk, and bring just to a simmer.
Remove from the heat and put through a strainer.
Taste and correct seasonings.
Reheat before serving. Top with Asiago Croutons- The More the Better!

Make croutons for the top of the soup by cubing Panera Bread Asiago Loaf into 3/4-inch thick slices.
Butter both sides of those slices, then cut the slices into bite-size cubes.
Bake the bread in a 425 degree oven for 15 minutes or until crispy.

The ruling:
I was so disappointed in this soup initially. It had zero flavor! So I had to doctor it up a bit, which yielded fabulous results! I added a small can of tomato sauce. (The soup was barely pink before?) Then I added lots of spice- more salt, about a tablespoon of basil (duh, couldn't believe this wasn't already in there), onion powder, garlic powder, white pepper, and a little cayenne pepper. Then I removed the bay leaf and pulsed the soup in two batches in my food processor. VERY SATISFYING!!! Next time I'm going to try adding another can of tomatoes (I used two this time)to make it a little thicker. This is going in my recipe book!

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