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Soups

Good job. You just found copycat recipes for all of your favorite famous foods! Bestselling author and TV host, Todd Wilbur shows you how to easily duplicate the taste of iconic dishes and treats at home. See if Todd has hacked your favorite soups here. New recipes added every week.

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    Score: 4.82. Votes: 308

    Menu Description: "White and red beans, ground beef, tomatoes and pasta in a savory broth."

    It's amazing how many lousy clone recipes for this delicious chili-like soup are floating around. Cooking message boards, and questionable sites that claim to have "actual restaurant recipes" have for years passed off numerous versions that disappoint home chefs. Other formulas leave out major ingredients that you can clearly see in the real thing, like the carrots, or ground beef, or two kinds of beans. Others don't even get the pasta right—it's clearly ditalini pasta, which are short little tubes. If you want the taste of Olive Garden's famous Pasta e Fagioli at home, this may be the only recipe that will live up to a side-by-side taste test. Beware of imitation imitations!

    Find more of my Olive Garden copycat recipes here

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 2 by Todd Wilbur.

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    Score: 4.88. Votes: 215

    Dave Thomas, Wendy's late founder, started serving this chili in 1969, the year the first Wendy's opened its doors. Over the years the recipe has changed a bit, but this Wendy's copycat chili recipe is a great version of the one served in the early 90s. Try topping it with some chopped onion and Cheddar cheese, just as you can request in the restaurant.

    Now, on to the Wendy's Hot Chili Seasoning copycat recipe.

    Source: Top Secret Recipes by Todd Wilbur.

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    Score: 4.89. Votes: 44

    For two years after the first Olive Garden restaurant opened in 1982, operators were still tweaking the restaurant's physical appearance and the food that was served. Even the tomato sauce was changed as many as 25 times. It's that sort of dedication that creates fabulous dishes like this popular soup. It blends the flavors of potatoes, kale, and Italian sausage in a slightly spicy chicken and cream broth. 

    You've got the soup recipe, how about creating your own bottomless Olive Garden House Salad and Breadsticks? Find more of my Olive Garden clone recipes here!

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes by Todd Wilbur.

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    Barney's Beanery, the self-proclaimed "third oldest restaurant in Los Angeles," has a long history of celebrity patrons dropping by for a hot bowl of chili and a beer or three. John "Barney" Anthony opened the first Barney's Beanery in Berkley, California in 1920, and seven years later relocated the restaurant to its current location on Santa Monica Boulevard in West Hollywood.

    Barney's soon became a popular watering hole for film stars from the 1920s and '30s, such as Clara Bow, Clark Gable, and John Barrymore. In the '50s and '60s Lou Costello was a regular, and so were Donald O'Connor, Charles Bukowski, and Dennis Hopper. Jim Morrison and his Doors bandmates were frequent customers since the offices of their record label, Elektra, were nearby. Janis Joplin was said to have had a drink there the night she died. The Brat Pack of the '80s—Charlie Sheen, Rob Lowe, John Cusack, Emilio Estevez, and Demi Moore—would often come in to play pinball and video games. And Quentin Tarantino wrote most of his screenplay for Pulp Fiction while sitting at his favorite booth at Barney's.

    This original chili was a favorite of Peter Falk's character on Columbo, who ate it often at the restaurant on the TV show. But the show wasn't filmed at the actual location. The Barney’s Colombo viewers saw on their TV was a sound-stage replica.

    The secret to the flavor of this Barney's Beanery chili recipe comes from two chili powders that were popular in the West over 100 years ago, around the time Barney's first opened: Gebhardt and Mexene. Chili powders were new at that time, and there were very few on the market, so it's highly likely these ingredients were used in the recipe that made Barney's Beanery famous. Find those two chili powders and you're well on your way to hacking a classic chili. 

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    Score: 5.00. Votes: 1

    Other recipes I’ve seen that claim to duplicate the fabulous flavor of this popular soup do not make good clones, yet the long grain and wild rice mix that many of these recipes call for is a great way to get the exact amount of rice you need in a perfect blend. Just be sure not to use the flavor packet that comes with those rice kits, or you won’t get a good clone of the Panera original. Toss out that blend (or you can use it elsewhere; see Tidbits) and use the recipe below to make a better flavoring for the soup.

    Thanks to Panera Bread's policy of completely transparent ingredients, I discovered a surprising ingredient or two (wow, cabbage!), and was able to craft the best clone you’ll find for this top secret signature soup.

    Click here for more of my Panera Bread copycat recipes. 

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    Score: 5.00. Votes: 1

    Since Panera Bread makes all its ingredients known, it's not hard to find out that there’s no chicken broth in the original recipe, yet every copycat recipe I located online calls for chicken broth, as well as other ingredients clearly not found in Panera's version. Unlike those other recipes, this hack uses the same or similar ingredients to those listed on the company’s website.

    One of the ingredients in the soup, according to the posted list, is yeast extract. This tasty ingredient adds an MSG-like savoriness to Panera’s soup, and we can duplicate it by using nutritional yeast—often called "nooch"—now found in many stores, including Whole Foods. A little bit of nooch will provide the umami deliciousness that replaces chicken broth or bouillon.

    Panera keeps its soup gluten-free by thickening it with a combination of rice flour and cornstarch, rather than wheat flour. I’ve included those ingredients as well so that your clone is similarly gluten-free. Use the steps below and in about an hour you’ll have 8 servings of a soup that is a culinary doppelganger to Panera Bread's all-time favorite soup, and at a mere fraction of the cost.

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    Score: 4.14. Votes: 22

    After the "Soup Nazi" episode of Seinfeld aired, Jerry Seinfeld and several members of his production crew went over to Soup Kitchen International in New York City for lunch. When owner Al Yegenah recognized Jerry he flew into a profanity-filled rant about how the show had "ruined" his business and he demanded an apology. According to writer Spike Feresten, Jerry gave "the most insincere, sarcastic apology ever given," Yegenah yelled, "No soup for you!" and immediately ejected them from the premises. Knowing that to upset Al was to risk being yelled at and possibly evicted like Jerry, it was with great caution that I approached the order window to ask the Soup Nazi a few questions about the November 1995 Seinfeld episode that made him famous. Needless to say, the interview was very brief.

    TW: How do you feel about all the publicity that followed the Seinfeld episode?
    AY: I didn't need it. I was known well enough before that. I don't need it.

    TW: But it must have been good for business, right?
    AY: He [Seinfeld] used me. He used me. I didn't use him, he used me.

    TW: How many people do you serve in a day?
    AY: I cannot talk to you. If I talk I cannot work.

    TW: How many different soups do you serve?
    AY: (Getting very upset) I cannot talk! (Pointing to sign) Move to the left! Next!

    Check out my other Soup Nazi copycat recipes here

    Source: Top Secret Recipes Unlocked by Todd Wilbur.

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    Score: 4.93. Votes: 27

    Elaine: "Do you need anything?"
    Kramer: "Oh, a hot bowl of Mulligatawny would hit the spot."
    Elaine: "Mulligatawny?"
    Kramer: "Yeah, it's an Indian soup. Simmered to perfection by one of the great soup artisans in the modern era."
    Elaine: "Oh. Who, the Soup Nazi?"
    Kramer: "He's not a Nazi. He just happens to be a little eccentric. You know, most geniuses are."

    Kramer was right. Al Yeganeh—otherwise known as The Soup Nazi from the Seinfeld episode that aired in 1995—is a master at the soup kettle. His popular soup creations have inspired many inferior copycats in the Big Apple, including The Soup Nutsy, which was only ten blocks away from Al's original location on 55th Street. Yeganeh's mastery shows when he combines unusual ingredients to create unique and delicious flavors in his much-raved-about soups. In this one, you might be surprised to discover pistachios and cashews among the many vegetables. It's a combination that works.

    I took a trip to New York and tasted about a dozen of the Soup Nazi's original creations. This one, the Indian Mulligatawny, was high on my list of favorites. After each daily trip to Soup Nazi headquarters (Soup Kitchen International), I immediately headed back to the hotel and poured samples of the soups into labeled, sealed containers, which were then chilled for the trip back home. Back in the lab, portions of the soup were rinsed through a sieve so that ingredients could be identified. I recreated four of Al's best-selling soups after that trip, including this one, which will need to simmer for 3 to 4 hours, or until the soup reduces. The soup will darken as the flavors intensify, the potatoes will begin to fall apart to thicken the soup, and the nuts will soften. If you follow these directions, you should end up with a clone that would fool even Cosmo Kramer himself.

    Update 2/6/18: The recipe can be improved by doubling the curry (to 2 teaspoons) and reducing the water by half (to 8 cups). Cook the soup for half the recommended time or until it's your desired thickness. 

    Check out my other Soup Nazi copycat recipes here.

    Source: Top Secret Recipes Unlocked by Todd Wilbur.

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    This soup is only served on Mondays at the Denny’s near my house and it’s not even on the menu. But of all the soups served at the huge diner chain this one tops the list for cloning requests we get here at TSR HQ. A home clone for this popular soup is beautifully simple: make a roux with flour and butter, add milk, shredded Cheddar cheese, chicken broth and broccoli, and simmer until thick. The only suggestion I would make is to shred the Cheddar yourself rather than using the pre-shredded stuff. I find that in soups like this freshly shredded cheese melts much better, giving the soup a creamier and less grainy consistency.

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 3 by Todd Wilbur.

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    Score: 2.75. Votes: 12

    New Yorkers would line up around the block at the 55th Street location to get a hot cup of Al Yeganeh's delicious soup at Soup Kitchen International. And everyone was familiar with the demands posted near the order window: "Pick the soup you want!" "Have your money ready!" and "Move to the extreme left after ordering!" Violate any of these rules and Al sent you to the back of the line, even if you had waited for as long as two hours to get to the front. This is precisely how Yeganeh was portrayed by actor Larry Thomas in Seinfeld episode number 115, when he forever became known as "The Soup Nazi." After that episode aired a new rule was posted: "Do not mention the N Word (Nazi)!" In 2006 the original location closed and Al went into the business of franchising his concept under the new name "The Original Soup Man."

    In 2017, financial troubles lead to the closure of more 50 franchises throughout the U.S. and Canada, including six in Manhattan. The brand was acquired by Joseph Hagen, and a physical location in New York's Time Square was opened in December, 2018. To this day, the recipes are still a secret. Among the favorites is the crab bisque, which is the soup Jerry orders on the show.


    Source: Top Secret Recipes Unlocked by Todd Wilbur.

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I'm Todd Wilbur,
Chronic Food Hacker

For 30 years I've been deconstructing America's most iconic brand-name foods to make the best original clone recipes for you to use at home. Welcome to my lab.

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