I absolutely love Panera Bread. When I was at school I would make a weekly trip out there to gorge myself on soup-filled sourdough bread bowls. For the first year of my obsession with Panera I ate only chicken noodle soup, but then I tried the broccoli cheddar, and my world was rocked.
I've only made matzo ball soup before (which is the easiest, most delicious thing ever...I'll make it again in the fall!), and so I decided that for my first *non-chicken based* attempt I would make my favorite unhealthy Panera favorite!
And guess what? IT TASTED PHENOMENAL! I'm excited to post a recipe that turned out well to prove to you that I don't always light my dinner on fire or pour a can of spaghettios on top. I found the recipe on CDKitchen.com, but I made a few modifications, so I'll post my directions as well.
You will need:
1 tablespoon plus 1/4 cup melted butter
1/2 medium onion, chopped (I only used a 1/4 of the onion)
1/4 cup flour
2 cups half-and-half
2 cups chicken stock
1/2 pound fresh broccoli
salt and pepper, to taste
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
8 ounces shredded sharp cheddar cheese (As you can see in the picture, I ate half the block of cheese before I started cooking, so I only had about 5 ounces left =P it STILL tasted great though!)
*The recipe also called for 1 cup of julienned carrots, but I don't like them so I skipped them. Theoretically though, since everything gets thrown into a blender at the end, I could have added them and not even noticed they were there*
First you want to chop your onions and saute them (over medium heat) with the tablespoon of melted butter. Then set them aside until later.
Add the rest of the butter and the flour in a saucepan and whisk over medium heat for 3-5 minutes, or until it stops looking like lumpy brain matter (cooking AND anatomy lessons at the same time, folks!)
Slowly add the half and half and watch happily as it bubbles up and looks super cool.* Keep whisking the entire time. This is called making a roux.
*first time making soup, don't make fun of me for being giddy!
Add the chicken stock and let simmer for 20 minutes, stirring often.
Add the broccoli, onions (and carrots if you so choose), and cook on low heat for roughly 20 minutes, or until the veggies are tender. Season with salt and pepper.
Pour the soup into a blender in batches and puree. I found that even the lowest blender setting for a few seconds did the trick, and I actually ended up wishing that the soup had more broccoli chunks. Something to shoot for next time.
Return to the pot and stir in the shredded cheese until mixed. A dash of nutmeg and you're ready!
I served it with a sourdough roll (couldn't find bread bowls, unfortunately) and the remainder of the broccoli. The soup served as the entree, which worked out fine because it was SO THICK!
I don't know enough about the whole soup making process to know what to change to make it a teeny bit less thick, so if anyone has any ideas, let me know! As it was it was delicious, and I can't wait to eat the leftovers.
When I make this again I will most likely:
- add the carrots
- use the full amount of cheese (though it tasted fine as it was, just a little more broccoli-centric)
- blend it less to retain some broccoli chunks
- make it a little thinner