Monday, January 17, 2011

Panera Bread Broccoli Cheese Soup

You'll have to excuse the pictures this time, as we had this for dinner and the lighting wasn't very good. I suppose maybe I could edit the pictures but I've never done that. Alas, don't be deterred, this soup is delicious! If you have ever eaten at Panera, you know that their soups are wonderful. This imitation version takes the cake and you won't be disappointed!

The first time we (my husband and I) made this soup, we followed the directions and pureed all of the soup in our blender. Well, let me just say that our blender is practically a maniac and we didn't know it. 3 pulses and we were left with broccoli cheese goop. Literally. I suppose it's a good thing that our blender works well, but we underestimated it's power. Needless to say, this time we made some changes to avoid the unappealing goop, which I have added in the recipe below. Enjoy!

**See that yummy bread there? It's a new french bread recipe I tried that I will be sharing with you soon! To see my first french bread post, click here.

Broccoli Cheese Soup (Print)
adapted from America's Most Wanted Recipes
Prep: 60 minutes
Yield: 4 servings

1 tablespoon canola oil
1/3 to 2/3 cup onion, chopped
4 tablespoons butter, melted
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups half-and-half
2 cups low sodium chicken broth
8 ounces broccoli, coarsely chopped (I used 2 bunches)
1 cup shredded carrot
Salt and pepper, to taste
8 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1. Heat the oil in a small skillet. Cook the onion in the skillet on medium-high heat, stirring constantly, until translucent. Set aside.

2. In a 4-quart pot, whisk the butter and flour together. Cook, stirring frequently, for about 4 minutes.

3. Slowly add the half-and-half; continue whisking. Add 1-1/2 cups of the chicken broth, whisking constantly. Simmer, uncovered, for 15-20 minutes. Meanwhile, puree the onion and carrot in a blender with the remaining chicken broth.

4. Add the broccoli, and pureed onion and carrots to the pot. Cook, uncovered, over low heat until broccoli is tender, about 20 minutes.

5. Add salt and pepper to taste.

6. Pour the soup in batches into a blender and puree. This is what we changed. We pureed the onion and carrot initially to avoid large chunks of onion. At this step (6), we used a ladle to take out about half of the broccoli and pureed just that. That way, there were still some broccoli chunks for us to enjoy and we didn't end up with goop like last time. You can do this however you would like.

7. Return the pureed portion to the pot and place over low heat. Add the grated cheese and stir until melted. Stir in the nutmeg and serve.

My Review

  • Preparation: 4
    • This recipe takes about 1 hour with the veggie prep and all the simmering.
  • Taste: 5
    • We've made it twice and I'm sure we'll make it again.
  • Cost: 5
    • I don't feel like doing math but I think it's pretty economical.
  • Clean-up: 3
    • Two pans and cutting equipment. Not to mention I had made bread so that added to the pile around my sink.
  • Changes
    • As you read above, we changed the puree process. If you like, you can skip the puree in step 3 and puree all of the soup in step 6. Or you can puree just the broccoli, or not puree it at all. It's up to you. The more you puree, the thicker the consistency.
    • Originally, the nutmeg was 1/4 teaspoon, but I thought it was a little strong. So I reduced it to 1/8 teaspoon here. Feel free to add more or less according to your liking, but don't omit it. I know it sounds strange but it really brings out the flavor.
    • Don't forget the salt and pepper in step 5! I did and was slightly disappointed in the soup initially. Then I realized I forgot that step and added salt and pepper to my bowl; it makes a huge difference!
  • Summary
    • This soup is very good and relatively easy to make. As I mentioned above, you can even cut down on some of the fuss and skip the pureeing entirely. I hope you will give this a try!


  1. Oh this soup looks fantastic. I've never had the Panera Bread version but I have no doubt that yours is every bit as good.

  2. This is one of my favorite soups in the whole world! So creamy and so delicious!

  3. I've seen this recipe around and have wondered whether I ought to try it - guess I will now!

  4. Oh my this sounds so good! All your recipes sound great right now! Too bad there is a blizzard outside!