Thursday, July 24, 2008

Better Than Panera's Broccoli Cheese Soup

Yes, I know the name of my soup is pretty daring considering that Panera’s makes some the best food in the restaurant business. However, my husband insists that my version is way better. I personally like both versions. Panera’s soup is a little on the bitter side and you can really taste the broccoli, but sometimes that is what I'm in the mood for. Mine is a little sweeter and more cheesier.

I will never forget my first time at Panera’s. I ordered the “You Pick Two” Turkey Artichoke sandwich and the Broccoli Cheese Soup and it was love at first spoonful. I always order different salads and sandwiches when I go, but I always get the same soup. Unfortunately, I’ve move to an area where the nearest Panera’s is an hour away. Thus, I decided to see if I could find the recipe online. I found this http://www.cdkitchen.com/recipes/recs/1833/Panera-Bread-Broccoli-Cheese-S79119.shtml

However, I found the sharp cheese two over powering, the soup too thick, and putting a soup through a blend was too messy and utterly ridiculous. After experimenting many times with many different measurements and ingredients I finally found a combination that I liked. My husband and my family LOVE it. I serve it in a sour dough bread bowl just like Panera’s.

I found that using a sweet onion is better. I like onions so I use a little bit more than ½ of the medium. I also cut the onion and the broccoli into really small pieces and I shred the baby carrots so I can avoid putting the hot soup in the blender and making a HUGE mess. Using baby carrots instead of the big carrots also gives this soup its slight sweet flavor. If you're like my husband and really want the sweet flavor to stand out then you can add more than ½ cup of shredded carrots. I prefer just a hint of sweet so I don’t use as much. To make it thinner I used more chicken stock. You can also add more stock to the soup at the end if it is still too thick for your taste. Finally, adding mild instead of sharp cheese made a world of a difference. So without further ado, I give you:

Better Than Panera’s Broccoli Cheese Soup

Ingredients:

1 tbsp unsalted butter
½ medium onion, minced (preferably a sweet onion like Vidalia)
¼ cup melted unsalted butter
¼ cup flour
2 cups half & half
3 ½ cups chicken stock
½ lb fresh broccoli, cut into really small pieces
½ cup shredded baby carrots
8 oz mild cheddar cheese, grated
Salt/Pepper to taste
¼ tsp. nutmeg

1. Sauté onion in butter and set aside for later use. (If you really like onion you can use more than 1/2 of one.)
2. Pour melted butter into a Dutch Oven and slowly add flour using a whisk over medium heat. 3. Slowly add half & half making sure to stir continuously.
4. Add chicken stock whisking all the time and simmer for 20 minutes.
5. Stir in broccoli, carrots, and onions and cook over low heat for 20 minutes or until veggies are tender.
6. Add salt and pepper and reduce to low heat.
7. Add grated cheese and stir well to blend. (If soup is took thick add a little more chicken stock.)
8. Stir in nutmeg and remove from heat.