Anyway, soup has been on my mind lately. I made this soup last year while pregnant since I constantly craved Panera (since it was the only good restaurant in Mankato) every single day of the week. This turned out EXACTLY like the soup at Panera (or even better since I know that the soup just comes from a bag at the restaurant....) Enjoy with rustic bread and a blanket on one of these cold days. Also, this freezes very well if you know of someone who will be in need of easy meals soon!
"Panera" cheesy broccoli soup
- 1 tablespoon butter, melted
- 1/2 medium onion, chopped (very small)
- 1/4 cup melted butter
- 1/4 cup flour
- 2 cups half-and-half
- 2 cups chicken stock or bouillon (or just dissolve one cube of chicken Maggie in 2 cups of water)
- 1/2 pound broccoli (add more if you love broccoli, but make sure to cut it in half for good presentation ;p)
- 1 cup carrots
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg (powder, or you can buy a whole nutmeg and grate it)
- 8 ounces grated sharp cheddar (buy the ready cheddar cheese from Kraft)
Saute chopped onion in butter (to make it tender). Set aside. Cook melted butter and flour using a whisk over medium heat for 3-5 minutes. (I always cook it in low heat since we use gas ovens and not electrical). Stir constantly and slowly add the half-and-half (this is called making a roux). Add the chicken stock whisking all the time. Simmer for 20 minutes (10 minutes would do).
Add the broccoli, carrots and onions. Cook over low heat until the veggies are tender for 20-25 minutes. Add salt and pepper (I usually eyeball it, then taste). The soup should be thickened by now. Pour in batches into blender and puree. (You don't need to do this step if the soup is already pureed from cooking. I usually omit this step). If you decided to puree the soup in the blender, return it to the pot over low heat and add the grated cheese; stir until well blended. Stir in nutmeg and serve.
For garnish, add a bit of cheddar cheese on top, and voila!