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Soups

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    Score: 5.00. Votes: 1

    Menu Description: "It takes half a day to make this perfect combination of onion, celery, carrot and garlic."

    Before a skilled chef appears tableside to perform his culinary prestidigitation on the hot hibachi grill at Benihana, you're treated to a tasty bowl of chicken broth-based soup with fried onions, sliced mushrooms and green onions floating cheerfully on top. The restaurant menu claims this soup takes a half a day to make, but we can clone it in a fraction of that time using canned chicken broth (I use Swanson brand). This soup works great as a prelude to your favorite Asian dishes or other Benihana clones since it's so light and won't fill up anyone before the main course. I've included a simple technique here for making the breaded fried onions from scratch (for the most accurate clone), but you can skip that step by substituting French's canned French Fried Onions that are sold in most markets.

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 2 by Todd Wilbur.

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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.

    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: 4.88. Votes: 40

    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. 

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes by Todd Wilbur.

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    Score: 4.84. Votes: 37

    Give this simple soup clone a shot and you'll never again want to eat chicken soup from a can. I designed this recipe to be easy, requiring chicken fillets rather than a whole chicken, and you won't need to create a stock from scratch. 

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 2 by Todd Wilbur.

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    Score: 4.80. Votes: 15

    The entire process for making this soup which Islands serves in "bottomless bowls" takes as long as 3 hours, but don't let that discourage you. Most of that time is spent waiting for the chicken to roast (up to 90 minutes -- although you can save time by using a precooked chicken, see Tidbits) and letting the soup simmer (1 hour). The actual work involved is minimal -- most of your time is spent chopping the vegetable ingredients. This recipe produces soup with an awesome flavor and texture since you'll be making fresh chicken stock from the carcass of the roasted chicken. As for the fried tortilla strip garnish that tops the soup, you can go the hard way or the easy way on that step. The hard way makes the very best Islands tortilla soup recipe and it's really not that hard: Simply slice corn tortillas into strips, fry the strips real quick, then toss the fried strips with a custom seasoning blend. The easy way is to grab a bag of the new habanero-flavored Doritos, which happen to be similar in spiciness to the strips used at the restaurant. Simply crumble a few of these chips over the top of your bowl of soup, and dive in.

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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 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. 

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 3 by Todd Wilbur.

    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.

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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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