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!
Broccoli Cheese Soup
submitted by Melanie~www.thesisterscafe.com
- 4 TB butter
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 1/4 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
- 1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
- 4 cups broccoli florets (about 1 head)
- 1 large carrot, diced
- 2 1/2 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 3/4 cup broth, milk or water if the soup is too thick. Ladle into the bowls and garnish with cheese if desired.
*to make this gluten free like I did–simply omit the 1/4 c flour and use 1/4 c of your favorite GF blend. Our favorite is Pamela’s and we buy it on Amazon. It is fantastic! makes the best GF waffles, pancakes and muffins by far!!
**Use all milk or all half and half depending on how rich and creamy you want it. Just be careful if you use all low fat milk that the mixture doesn’t curdle. The lower the fat content is the easier it is to curdle.
Recipe source: adapted from Food Network Magazine