This Copycat Version of Panera's Cult-Status Tomato Basil Bisque Is Just Like the Real Deal

Tomato soup and croutons

Soup's on! Nothing beats soup and a sandwich for lunch or a light supper. Are you a fan of Panera's Tomato and Basil Bisque?

According to Panera, this soup gets flavor from a few simple ingredients, like gently-simmered tomatoes, chopped basil, a hint of red pepper sweetness and a splash of coconut milk for dairy-free creaminess.

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Personally, I can't resist it with grilled cheese, or even bread croutons on top, but it's also good as is in a huge bowl. If you don't live near a Panera—or don't feel like leaving your house, we get it—then this Copycat Panera Tomato Basil Bisque recipe is perfect to have on hand. Enjoy Panera tomato soup whenever you want it just by having a few ingredients in your pantry.

Related: Copycat Panera Broccoli Cheese Soup

How To Make Copycat Panera Tomato Basil Bisque

Start with a can of San Marzano tomatoes when you head out on your shopping trip. They are a little more expensive, but they deliver the best flavor for a tomato-based soup. The San Marzano tomato is a type of plum tomato, and it's longer and thinner than the typical plum tomato you might see sold fresh in grocery stores or canned. These tomatoes were celebrated for their balanced flavor that combines sweetness, an intense tomato flavor and just the right amount of acid for balance.

As for a simple way to add red pepper notes to your at-home version of this soup...a jar of roasted red pepper strips will add a gentle smokiness to the recipe. Start by checking the condiment aisle. Most grocery and food specialty stores keep roasted red peppers near things like pickles, capers and artichoke hearts.

You want to use a solid vegetable stock for this soup. Your basic ingredients should be ingredients like onions, carrots, celery stalks, fresh thyme, a bay leaf and a handful of parsley. Be sure and check the salt content as some brands can be considerably high in sodium.

Related: The 11 Quick and Easy Homemade Bread Bowl Soup Recipes

Why Use Coconut Milk in Panera Tomato Bisque?

This copycat Panera soup is organic, vegetarian and free of gluten and dairy. The coconut milk adds a splash of creaminess without changing the status of any of these categories, so don't be hesitant to use the coconut milk thinking it is a flavor that will overwhelm you. It lends a balanced note of creaminess to this recipe.

Related: 22 Delicious Recipes Using Coconut Milk

"Using coconut milk in lieu of dairy ingredients like heavy cream makes a soup recipe creamy and delicious—but dairy-free," says Amy Gorin, MS, RDN, a plant-based registered dietitian and owner of Plant-Based Eats in Stamford, CT. "And if there are no other animal-based ingredients like chicken broth, then the soup can also be vegan."

As for soup garnishes, you can add more basil leaves as a topping before serving or any other fresh herbs, like thyme or oregano. Or those bread croutons I mentioned earlier.

Now let's make some soup!

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Copycat Panera Tomato Basil Bisque Recipe


  • 2 Tbsp vegetable oil

  • 1 small white onion

  • 2 cloves of garlic

  • 1 28 oz. can of tomatoes

  • 11 box 38 oz. vegetable stock

  • 6 small red potatoes chopped into small pieces

  • 6 strips of roasted red peppers

  • 1 can 13.5 oz. of coconut milk

  • ½ cup chopped basil

  • Kosher salt to taste

  1. Add vegetable oil to a skillet over medium high heat. Wait until the oil starts to shimmer and add the onion and garlic. Saute for about one minute.

  2. Add the can of tomatoes, vegetable stock, the chopped red tomatoes, peppers and coconut milk.

  3. Bring to a boil and then lower to a simmer for about half an hour. Use your potatoes as as indication of doneness. When a knife easily slides through a potato remove from heat to cool.

  4. When the soup has cooled, put in a blender or use an immersion blender to smooth.

  5. Add basil to soup and stir to add.