I’m not big on eating out. I tend to always have meals scheduled at home and only buy food on the go when it is absolutely necessary. It’s just too expensive for me to justify on a regular basis. But there are always those rare occasions (I’m talking once a year maybe, for real rare) where I have a craving that I just can NOT kick. It usually comes in the form of Panera Bread. I just loooooove their soup and sandwich deal, although it is admittingly pretty expensive for the quantity you receive… But, more importantly, I have one other major issue I am faced with when I go in there- what soup to order. Every part of me wants the broccoli cheese soup. It’s my absolute favorite that they have there. On the other hand I have this pesky little voice inside my head that makes me choose the healthier option, my number 2, the black bean soup. I know, I know, I don’t have Panera often enough where I should really deny myself some indulgent soup, but I just can’t shake it when I get up there to order. I think the last time I had the broccoli cheese soup instead of the black bean was well over 7 years ago. Either way, when I saw this recipe in Food Network Magazine for “Almost Famous” Broccoli Cheddar Soup, I knew that I had to clip it out and make it one day. Well, that day finally came (after staring at the recipe longingly for far too many months), and here I am now to share with you what I thought.
5 STARS!! For sure. It was really very good. It had the perfect thickness and cheesy flavor that you get from Panera. And what makes it better than Panera is the fact that you cook it at home. Which means less processing (because we all know that they don’t make the soup in the store, but rather pour it from a bag), and ultimately a healthier version of a non-healthy soup. Seriously, you can actually taste the broccoli. It has such great flavor and isn’t too difficult to throw together. I couldn’t have been happier with the way Food Network formulated this recipe. Although I have been pretty impressed so far with their “Almost Famous” column. Good job guys!
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 small onion, chopped
- ¼ cup all-purpose flour
- 2 cups half-and-half
- 3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
- 2 bay leaves
- ¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
- 4 7-inch sourdough bread boules (round loaves)
- 4 cups broccoli florets (about 1 head)
- 1 large carrot, diced
- 2½ cups (about 8 ounces) grated sharp white and 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 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 20 minutes.
- Meanwhile, prepare the bread bowls: Using a sharp knife, cut a circle into the top of each loaf, leaving a 1-inch border all around. Remove the bread top, then hollow out the middle with a fork or your fingers, leaving a thick bread shell.
- Add the broccoli and carrot to the broth mixture and simmer until tender, about 20 minutes. Discard the bay leaves. Puree the soup in batches in a blender until smooth; you’ll still have flecks of carrot and broccoli. Return to the pot. (Or puree the soup in the pot with an immersion blender.)
- Add the cheese to the soup and whisk over medium heat until melted. Add up to ¾ cup water if the soup is too thick. Ladle into the bread bowls and garnish with cheese.
adapted from Food Network