Lately with the weather getting colder, I have been craving soup, especially the broccoli cheese soup from Panera Bread. For those of you who don’t know. Panera Bread is a bakery/ soup and sandwich chain found in some parts of the country. I was introduced to them when I moved to the South. One of my favorite things on their menu is the Broccoli Cheese soup. Have you had that one? It is so good! I have tried to make Broccoli Cheese soup several times at home but I was always disappointed (until now:). It would turn out too thin, not enough flavor or too rich. Well, it took awhile but I finally found a recipe that I LOVE! I am not sure it is the same as Panera Bread’s but I like it just as well, if not better!
You can make it as rich or lite as you want depending on the milk or half and half you use. I like it split down the middle with a cup of each. I use chicken stock, recipe in the How To section up top. It is so much more flavorful and rich that plain broth. I think it makes a difference ! This is the perfect soup to warm you up on a cold day! By the way the leftovers are fantastic so you may want to double it!
- 4 TB butter
- 1 small onion, chopped
- ¼ cup all purpose flour (*see notes to make Gluten Free)
- 1 cup half and half
- 1 cup milk (** see notes)
- 3 cup chicken stock or broth (homemade is best-recipe under the How to tab)
- 2 bay leaves
- ¼ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
- 4 cups broccoli florets (about 1 head)
- 1 large carrot, diced
- 2½ cups (about 8 ounces) grated sharp white and/or yellow cheddar cheese plus more for garnish
- Melt the butter in a large Dutch oven or pot over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Whisk in the flour and cook until golden, 3 to 4 minutes, then gradually whisk in the half-and-half and milk until smooth. Add the chicken broth, bay leaves and nutmeg, then season with salt and pepper and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, uncovered, until thickened, about 20minutes.
- Add the broccoli florets and carrot to the broth mixture and simmer until tender, about 20 minutes.
- Discard the bay leaves.
- If desired, mash broccoli a bit with a potato masher, or puree soup a bit with an immersion blender. You can also puree the soup in batches in a blender until smooth; you'll still have flecks of carrot and broccoli.
- Return to the pot.
- Add the cheese to the soup and whisk over medium heat until melted.
- Add up to ¾ cup broth, milk or water if the soup is too thick.
- Ladle into the bowls and garnish with cheese if desired.
Recipe source: adapted from Food Network Magazine