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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: 4.77. Votes: 26

    This soup happens to be one of Chili's most raved-about items, and the subject of many a recipe search here on the site. Part of the secret in crafting your clone is the addition of masa harina—a corn flour that you'll find in your supermarket near the other flours, or where all the Mexican foodstuffs are stocked.

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 2 by Todd Wilbur.

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    Score: 5.00. Votes: 3

    When you get a steaming bowl of great tortilla soup plopped down in front of you, it's tough to stop slurping until you hit bottom. California Pizza Kitchen has just such a soup, but the oil and fried tortilla chips jack up the fat. Never fear. We can now make this delicious white corn tortilla soup taste just as good as the original without most of the oil and fat. Fat-free chicken broth stands in well for the regular stuff, and baked corn tortilla chips give the soup its traditional taste and texture. You'll want to use a hand blender for this one, if you've got one. If not, a regular blender or food processor will work fine to puree the soup so that it has the smooth consistency of the original but with only a miniscule two grams of fat per serving.

    Check out my other clone recipes for CPK soups, salads, and pizza here.

    Nutrition Facts
    :
    Serving size–1 1/2 cups
    Total servings–4
    Calories–260 (Original–305)
    Fat–2g (Original–14g)

    Source: Low-Fat Top Secret Recipes by Todd Wilbur.

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    Score: 4.14. Votes: 14

    After years of fielding requests to clone the delicious signature soup from this 100-unit chain, I was finally able to secure a couple carry-out samples from Max & Erma's at the Cleveland airport while I was there on a biz trip. Wrapped in a bundle of napkins and tucked into a carry-on bag, my samples arrived home in Vegas still warm and ready for analysis. For this one you'll need some white and dark fillets of chicken and a half pound hunk of cheese to shred. It's all that Cheddar cheese that makes this tortilla soup so good. And you'll definitely want to shred your own, since the pre-shredded stuff—while also more expensive—just doesn't melt as well in the chicken broth as cheese that's been shredded just before it goes into the pot. 

    Update 2/8/17: This recipe may work better if you first make a sauce with the cheese before adding it to the soup. After step #2, combine 2 tablespoons of butter with 2 tablespoons of flour in a medium saucepan. Whisk in 1 cup of milk until thickened, about 3 minutes. Remove it from the heat and stir in the cheese until it's melted. Keep the cheese sauce warm over low heat until you need it. Reduce the cornstarch to 1 tablespoon and dissolve it into the chicken broth in a large saucepan. Add the chicken, sauteed vegetables, and remaining ingredients for the soup (except the cheese sauce) and bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer 10 minutes. Stir in the cheese sauce and simmer the soup for another 10 minutes while you bounce to step #4.

    Find more of your favorite famous soup recipes here.

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 3 by Todd Wilbur.

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    Score: 4.74. Votes: 38

    Menu Description: "A tasty twist on a family favorite. Red, ripe tomatoes slowly simmered in a rich cream sauce and seasoned with basil and select herbs."

    This easy Applebee's tomato basil soup recipe requires two large cans of crushed tomatoes, and your soup will still have the impressive taste and texture of gourmet tomato bisque requiring fresh tomatoes and more work. You may notice that the large amount of basil used here contributes an overwhelming flavor and aroma when first added, but as the soup simmers the herb mellows to create the perfect clone of the original. And there's no need to make croutons from scratch for the garnish when you can buy lightly seasoned packaged croutons in just about any market.

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 3 by Todd Wilbur.
     

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    Score: 4.84. Votes: 25

    It's not served every day at Carrabba's Italian Grill, but when this amazing soup is on the menu consider yourself lucky and snag a bowl. It's chock-full of lentils and other good bits of vegetables and herbs, plus there are big chunks of spicy Italian sausage in every bite. Best of all, Carrabba's sausage and lentil soup recipe is a cinch to clone. Most of the work here is just chopping stuff up, including a small ham steak which you can find where the bacon is sold in your market. If you can't find a ham steak, you can slice up some deli ham. Get everything in a pot and let it simmer. In 1 hour you'll have enough hot, chunky soup for at least a dozen cup-size servings. Also enjoy our Carrabba's chicken marsala recipe.

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 3 by Todd Wilbur.

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    Score: 5.00. Votes: 1

    Panera’s top soup pick in the summer is a creamy vegetarian chowder that’s full of flavor and easy to copy at home once you know an important flavor secret. I started my hack using a vegetable broth, since that’s what all the other “copycats” call for, but I found its strong vegetable flavor dominated the soup, so I quickly bailed on that plan.

    Starting over, I referred to the soup’s ingredients posted online by Panera Bread and noticed there is no broth in the soup, which means every copycat recipe online is wrong. I didn’t want to make the same mistake in my recipe, but without the broth my soup would be lacking some important flavor components, and that’s no good either.

    In many soup recipes, the broth or stock is important for the umami quality provided by the yeast extract added to the product. Yeast extracts are one of the many ways food manufacturers add an MSG flavor-enhancing effect without adding MSG. Panera does in fact list “yeast extract” as one of the ingredients in the soup, so I needed to find a readily available ingredient that would provide the same savory quality.

    Enter nutritional yeast—or “nooch” as it’s often called—a flakey, nutrient-packed, vegan ingredient that’s growing quickly in popularity thanks to the savory, cheesy flavor it adds to a variety of foods (it’s great on popcorn). Nooch is also popular with vegans and vegetarians since it’s fortified with vitamin B12, an essential nutrient that's mainly found in animal-sourced foods.

    Now, with nooch in there, along with yellow corn, red-skin potatoes, poblano peppers, tomatoes, cilantro, and other tasty things, no broth is required. Just give it water and a little patience.

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    Score: 5.00. Votes: 1

    One of the most popular and hard-to-pronounce items on the Olive Garden menu is found in the soup column. It's more like chili than a soup, really, with all those beans and veggies and ground beef in there. The reduced-fat grams in this clone are especially important when we consider that this dish makes an excellent meal by itself, and you may want to eat more than the 1 1/2-cup serving size measured for the nutrition stats.

    We'll keep the added fat to a minimum by sauteing the veggies in what little fat is not drained off from browning the lean ground beef. The soup will fill your mouth with flavor so it won't matter that we aren't adding additional fat. You'll have a hard time distinguishing between this version and the original. Try it.

    This recipe makes about eight 1 1/3-cup servings. If you can't eat it within a few days, it freezes well.

    Nutrition Facts
    Serving size–1 1/2 cups
    Total servings–8
    Calories per serving–312 (Original–416)
    Fat per serving–4g (Original–17.5g)

    Source: Top Secret Recipes Lite by Todd Wilbur.

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    Score: 5.00. Votes: 1

    Menu Description: "Our famous Big Boy soups and chili are made fresh daily from fresh vegetables, pure cream and only the finest ingredients."

    In 1936, Bob Wian had to make the painful decision to sell his cherished 1933 DeSoto roadster to buy a ten-stool lunch counter from a pair of elderly ladies in Glendale, California. He named his new restaurant Bob's Pantry, and went to work behind the counter himself. Receipts form his first day totaled only twelve dollars. But with the creation of a new hamburger just the next year, and a name change to Bob's Big Boy, business took off. Within three years Bob had expanded his first store and built another location in Los Angeles. In 1948 Bob Wian was voted mayor of Glendale.

    A cup of broccoli soup makes a great first course or a nice partner to a sandwich. I first designed this recipe using frozen broccoli, but the frozen stuff just isn't as tasty as a big bunch of firm, fresh broccoli. So go shopping, and get chopping. 

    Served in a large bowl, this soup can be a small meal in itself, or serve four as an appetizer that you can pair with my Bob's Big Boy Double Decker Hamburger.

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes by Todd Wilbur.here. 

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes by Todd Wilbur.

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    Score: 4.50. Votes: 26

    Got one of those cool hand blenders? It comes in handy for this recipe, which requires the split peas to be smashed into a smooth consistency, just like the original. If you don't have a hand blender, also called a stick blender, a standard blender works just fine. This soup is very tasty and very low in fat. And the barley gives it a special chunky texture and nutty flavor that isn't found in most pea soups.

    Nutrition Facts
    Serving size–2 cups
    Total servings–4
    Calories per serving–450
    Fat per serving–3g

    Source: Low-Fat Top Secret Recipes by Todd Wilbur. 

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    Score: 4.90. Votes: 10

    It may not be listed on the menu, but this is Applebee's most ladled soup each and every day. Just be sure you have some oven-safe soup bowls on hand before you jump into this clone, since you're going to pop the dish under the broiler to brown and melt the cheese on top. Under the gooey melted provolone of the original version you get from Applebee's is a unique round crouton that's made from bread that looks like a hamburger bun. So that's what we'll use for our clone. The round shape of the bread is perfect for topping this Applebee's French onion soup recipe.

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 2 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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