This Copycat Panera Creamy Tomato Soup is perfect for those cold winter days and when you don’t want to leave the house! It’s also dairy-free and vegan-friendly!
Ok, so let’s talk about Panera.
And if you’re in the maybe 1% of people who haven’t been there, I apologize. I have a love-hate relationship with them.
Hate that those delicious pastries tempt me from the second I get in line, ab-so-freaking-lute-ly love their creamy tomato soup.
As in want to start a petition on increasing the size of their soup bowls for just that soup alone. Last year I even made my own version of it with this easy homemade roasted tomato soup recipe which is pretty darn kick-ass if I do say so myself.
Fast forward a year later though and my eating habits have changed slightly.
As in, that parmesan cheese, brown sugar, and heavy cream that went in my first version aren’t things I’m stocking in my house anymore (ok, I do still have some brown sugar in the pantry for cookie emergencies).
But not eating creamy tomato soup all winter just isn’t an option.
The creaminess is by far the best part of their soup so I knew I wanted to mimic that somehow rather than come up with some pathetic paleo brothy cousin in this newer version.
Which can turn into cashew paste. Cashew paste can then be turned into cashew cream. Which will then undoubtedly make you do a happy dance in your kitchen when you taste it.
I’m going to go with the fact that luck must’ve just been on my side the afternoon this was made because, guys, this tastes even more like Panera’s tomato soup than that first attempt awhile ago.
And, there’s no dairy. It’s like the vegan/paleo gods aligned and gave me this one moment in time (cue the Whitney lyrics).
For those who need a little more heartiness in their soup, or are just a pasta lover, say hello to one of my newer soup recipes, Instant Pot Creamy Tomato Tortellini Soup.
What is the Difference Between Creamy Tomato Soup and Tomato Bisque?
Technically speaking, traditional tomato soup is made with a broth or stock base, so it’s usually soupier.
Whereas a bisque is made with a cream or milk base, which is much creamier.
With the version I am making today, you get the best of both worlds!
Ingredients Needed for Creamy Copycat Panera Tomato Soup
- plum tomatoes, quartered
- head of garlic
- balsamic vinegar
- extra virgin olive oil
- yellow onion
- cloves garlic
- chicken broth
- almond milk
How to Make Creamy Tomato Soup That Tastes Like Panera
Soak your cashews in a small bowl, covered, for one hour.
Prep your baking sheet by lining it with tin foil, and preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Combine the tomatoes, oil, salt & pepper, and balsamic vinegar in a large bowl. Toss to combine then spread it out evenly on the baking sheet.
Cut off the top of the garlic head, then drizzle it with olive oil. Wrap it tightly in foil and lay it on the baking pan with the tomato mixture.
Place the pan in the oven and roast for about 45 minutes.
Once the one-hour soaking time is up for the cashews, add them to a food processor along with a quarter cup of almond milk. Pulse until a paste forms. You will need to use a spatula to scrape the sides down periodically. Then set the cashew paste to the side.
When there are 10 minutes left to go for the roasting, heat a large stockpot over medium-high heat.
Add the garlic and onions, saute until they are softened and fragrant.
Now that the tomatoes have finished roasting, add those to the pot. Squeeze out the roasted garlic cloves into the pot, and cook another 5 minutes.
Pour in the broth, a cup of almond milk, 1/2 cup of the cashew paste, salt, pepper, and parsley.
Simmer uncovered for 15 more minutes.
Take the pot off the heat, and transfer the soup to a blender (or use an immersion blender directly in the pot). Blend until the tomato soup is smooth and creamy, season to taste, then set aside.
Add in the leftover cashew paste and a quarter cup of almond milk to the blender or food processor. Blend on high until it’s smooth in consistency, then transfer to a small bowl.
Serve the copycat soup while it’s warm adding the cashew cream as desired on top with a little parsley for garnish!
Is This Copycat Panera Tomato Soup Vegan?
All you need to do is use a vegan butter and swap the chicken broth for veggie stock, and boom you have a vegan tomato soup that still tastes exactly like Panera, maybe even better!
Storing, Freezing, and Reheating Homemade Tomato Soup
Tomato soup will last up to 5 days in the refrigerator, but it’s so delicious that it will probably be gone the second you make it!
To reheat, you can use the microwave or reheat on the stovetop over low heat.
If you find it’s super thick then just add a little water, broth, or almond milk to thin it out.
Once the soup has completely cooled, transfer it to a freezer-safe container or bag. Store in individual portions for an easy grab-and-go lunch idea.
What Do You Serve Creamy Tomato Soup With?
Of course…grilled cheese! I love pairing this soup with this roast beef smoked gouda grilled cheese for a filling comfort food kinda meal.
For a healthier option, you could go with a simple salad like this baby kale salad, or just a baguette to keep it true to the Panera style.
More Soup Recipes You Will Love:
Copycat Panera Creamy Tomato Soup
- 1 cup cashews
- 8 large plum tomatoes quartered
- 1 head of garlic
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 large yellow onion chopped
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 1/2 cup chicken broth
- 1 cup almond milk plus 1/2 cup more divided
- 1/2 cup parsley chopped
- Place cashews in a small bowl, cover with water and soak for one hour.
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line baking sheet with tin foil.
- In a large bowl, combine tomatoes, vinegar, olive oil and salt & pepper and toss to combine. Spread out on baking sheet.
- Cut the top of the garlic head off, drizzle with olive oil, wrap tightly in tin foil and place on baking sheet with tomatoes.
- Roast for 45 minutes.
- Meanwhile, add soaked cashews and 1/4 cup of the almond milk to a food processor. Process until a paste forms, scraping down sides as needed. Set aside.
- When there’s about 10 minutes of roasting time left, heat large heavy bottomed pot over medium-high heat.
- Add onions and garlic and saute until softened, about 5-7 minutes.
- Once tomatoes and garlic are done, add to pot (squeezing the roasted garlic out of the cloves) and cook for about 5 minutes.
- Add broth, 1 cup almond milk, parsley, 1/2 cup of the cashew paste and salt & pepper. Cook uncovered on a low simmer for another 15 minutes.
- Remove pot from heat and transfer soup to a blender. Blend (in batches if necessary) until smooth. Alternatively, an immersion blender could be used.
- Season to taste. Set aside.
- Add remaining cashew paste to blender with the remaining 1/4 cup almond milk and blend on high until a creamy consistency forms. Transfer to a small bowl.
- Serve soup while warm adding as much cashew cream as desired on top. Garnish with extra parsley.
This website provides approximate nutrition information for convenience and as a courtesy only. Nutrition information can vary for a variety of reasons. For the most precise nutritional data use your preferred nutrition calculator based on the actual ingredients you used in the recipe.
Gina Matsoukas is the writer, founder, photographer and recipe developer of Running to the Kitchen — a food website focused on providing healthy, wholesome recipes using fresh and seasonal ingredients as much as possible. Her work has been featured in numerous media outlets both digital and print, including MSN, Huffington post, Buzzfeed, Women’s Health and Food Network.