The Monday Make: Panera Bread’s Creamy Tomato Soup

It’s been raining all weekend.  I’ve just been enjoying lazing around in my own bed this Monday morning, and not feeling damp and cold.

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If you were around for the last post, you’ll remember we went camping just over the border.  We were all ever hopefuls that maybe, just maybe the rain wouldn’t be what the forecast was saying: ” Copious amounts of rain at times.”  If you look up that word you’ll find, “generous, superabundant, profuse, plentiful, extensive, lavish…”  Yes, definitely a generous and extensive amount fell, to say the least.

And my guess is, if we’d have ventured out with just our immediate family, we’d have been back within hours of the wind and rain storm.  But travelling with easy, laid back friends, and side-tracked with peers for the kiddos, restaurants we miss going to, cheap groceries, and American shopping, well, those are five good reasons to hang around for torrential downpours.

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Having arrived Friday evening, we did manage to get a S’more fire night in there.  And surprisingly, not having tented it in years, my dismantled shoulder pain I’ve been dealing with for weeks, now found the hard ground quite helpful and let’s say, even 50% less painful than most nights sleeping on a mattress.  I guess a hard surface really is the cure!

We had a pocket of time Saturday morning, enough to get to the playground so the husbands, children, and entire campground of children, could play tag together.  And then a little walk over to the water’s edge to explore.

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To back up a bit, and to lead you to some climax in the story of camping on a copious amounts of rain weekend, I should also let you in on the murphy’s law kind of experience with our automatic window that decided NOT to go up after we’d crossed the border.  We’re glad and all that, that it worked so well for the border crossing, since those guards are none too pleased when one has to motion with your hands that your window doesn’t work (we’ve been there and done that more than once!). But knowing the next day was bringing rain, in as I said, copious amounts, we were wondering how the weekend was going to unfold with an exposed window, and only black garbage bags (and no cello-tape) to work with.  It all worked out in the end, thanks to our persistent friend, eager to solve the mystery.

I think it all started around 11, the rain.  And it went on, and on, into the day, you know, copious amounts.  But one of mine was happy as a lark to discover the 3 for $5 sign on the nail poilish at the store, 5 Below.  Another was happy to find just the right shoes in the Shoe Carnival, while another was just happy to be tagging along with friends, in her usual unkempt, free-spirited, let’s-not-comb-my-hair all-weekend-look.

I kept marveling over the price of groceries, remembering that, yes, my bill was cut in half when we lived south of the border.  It’s well worth the hour’s drive to do this more often I think.

We maxed out on Cracker Barrel visits, hoping to file in incognito if the same waiter was on shift.  Didn’t work.  He spotted us, and I’m sure knew we had “Canadians” branded on our foreheads for coming twice in a row.  With the cold and damp chilling us to the bone that Sunday morning, our friend said we shouldn’t have checked in at the counter with, “Wayne, party of 11” but rather, “Soaking wet, party of 11.”

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We maybe should have taken the cues of other tenters around us and packed up earlier, but come on, we’re Canadians…we brave snow and sleet and hail and ice each winter, and still make it to work.  So, what’s a little rain?

We were wise enough to see that the flooded sites around us meant we should at least be sleeping at a higher level.  So we split the family up between the two vehicles, and a few were handed into our friends’ camper.

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Mid-way through the night, (while the tree branches knocked on our doors and ceiling, and I constantly turned the flashlight on and wiped the windows to see if the tent was still there, and wondered if all the oxygen would be used up with us being locked inside the vehicle all night, and imagined waking to the absence of our friends’ trailer, probably off floating in lake Ontario), I came to realize that the blanket I hauled from the tent earlier was not actually one of the dry ones.

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It was pretty quiet when we awoke the next morning, many other campers having left the night prior, or in the wee hours.  We still weren’t deterred though.  How could we leave when the price of nut butter, tea, journals, and clothing remained this cheap?! We hit more outlets and did the shop till we dropped kind of thing.  Everyone came away with some kind of good deal, and better still, we had the time of our lives with good friends.

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And the nice thing is, it’s only an hour or so’s drive, so when the sun shines some weekend, we’ll get in that original plan A trip to Fort Niagara, and the swimming pool, and the hike.  It’ll happen.

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(Photo by Tatiana Mik on Flickr)

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So here’s a recipe and idea for y’all this lazy, restful, and first day of summer break day.  Since we were so chilled all weekend, a steaming bowl of this Creamy Tomato Soup is in order.  Panera Bread is my eldest daughter’s absolute favourite lunch restaurant.  We don’t have these up here in Canada so we were excited to see one when we arrived in the States on Friday.  Both her and I ordered this soup, and have been talking about it ever since.  So, I’ll do the copycat thing and give you the link to the recipe right from the Panera Bread site.  You’ll love it!  Happy Monday Make to y’all!!

Panera Bread’s Creamy Tomato Soup:

1 Tbsp olive oil

1 Tbsp butter

1 large onion, chopped

1 large clove garlic, minced

2 ribs celery, chopped

1 Tbsp all-purpose flour

5 large super-ripe tomatoes (about 4 lbs), coarsely chopped

1 tsp sugar

4 leaves fresh basil + 1 Tbsp chopped

3/4 tsp salt

1/8 tsp ground black pepper

Pinch of ground cayenne

4 Panera Bread Sourdough Rolls, warmed

Directions:

Warm the oil and butter in a large soup pot over medium heat.  Add the onion, garlic, celery, and cook until soft but not browned, 5-7 mins.  Stir in the flour and cook 1 min.

Add the tomatoes (with juices), sugar, basil leaves, salt, black pepper, and cayenne.  Increase the heat and bring tomatoes to a boil.  Reduce heat to medium and simmer 15 mins, skimming off and discarding any foam form the surface.

Puree the soup in a blender, in batches; then pass the puree through a medium-mesh strainer, pressing on and discarding the solids.  Return the soup to the pot to keep warm.

Just before serving, stir in the chopped basil.  Divide the soup among four bowls and serve it with the rolls

Tip:  Ripe tomatoes are the key to great taste here.  Sample the soup before serving, and add a touch more sugar or salt of the tomatoes need it.  This soup can be refrigerated for up to three days and tastes delicious cold.

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