As extensive as their menu is, there’s one thing at Panera Bread that I just can’t say no to, and that’s Panera broccoli cheddar soup.
I let myself look beyond all that cheddar cheese and pretend it’s a super healthy bowl of veggies. It’s loaded with broccoli and carrots, after all!
Regardless, it’s creamy, has great texture, and is full of delicious flavor.
It’s also one of my favorite bread bowl soup recipes. Though you don’t have to add bread – it’s still super hearty on its own.
And if you’re looking to recreate it at home, I promise it couldn’t be easier.
Panera Broccoli Cheddar Soup
This soup is just so comforting and can make any winter night seem just a little warmer.
It’s thick, velvety, and you can have it on the table in just about an hour.
You can make it extra creamy by using cream in place of milk and keep it vegetarian-friendly by using vegetable stock instead of chicken.
Either way, it’ll knock your socks off!
It’s easy, fast, and totally doable on a weeknight.
If you look around, you’ll notice that almost all broccoli cheddar soup recipes are identical.
The big difference is the use of milk over cream, and some will have a small addition like nutmeg or cayenne pepper. But this recipe keeps it simple:
- Butter – In some cases, you can substitute butter for a vegan alternative, but given that this recipe is all about the cheese, it’s best to stick with the good stuff.
- Onion – Use a variety of white onion for this, as you’ll want it to sweat down and add flavor.
- Flour – This is to make the roux and can be whatever type you have on hand.
- Milk – Using lower fat milk will affect the texture at the end, and if you want it creamy, it’s best to use whole milk. Alternatively, you can use cream or half-and-half.
- Chicken stock – Stock will always add much-needed flavor to a soup or stew, and chicken stock provides some yummy seasoning. But you can use veggie stock, too.
- Broccoli florets – The broccoli should be in bite-sized pieces and can be fresh or frozen. If using frozen, be sure to let them thaw and drain any excess liquid.
- Carrots – I like to grate my carrots for this soup, but you can slice them however you prefer. Just be sure they’re small enough to cook in the time allotted.
- Cheddar Cheese – Since this is a cheesy soup, you’ll want something with flavor. Many mild cheddars will add very little, so look for something that says ‘mature’ or ‘sharp’ on the package.
Tips for the Best Soup
This recipe is pretty simple to follow and doesn’t require any fancy cooking techniques. But I still have a few little tips to be sure it comes out just right:
- Use a block of mature cheddar or sharp cheddar. Grating your own cheese is not only cheaper but will ensure a smooth texture after it melts.
- Make it smooth. I like the texture here, but you can blitz this soup – before adding the cheese – if you want it smooth.
- Stir the roux constantly. Otherwise, the flour might burn or clump. Then, add the milk in slowly, stirring all the time, to keep it lump-free.
- Make a double batch and freeze half. That way, you can pull it out on one of those busy days for a no-fuss dinner.
- Play around with the cheese. Try a combination of mature cheddar and something smoked for fun new flavors.
- Let the onions caramelize to add extra flavor. It’ll take a bit longer, but it’s worth it!
What to Serve With Panera Broccoli Cheddar Soup
In terms of what to serve with broccoli cheese soup, you can’t go wrong with crusty bread!
I mentioned my love for the bread bowl, but this soup will be just as good without it.
But if you’re looking to make it even more filling, I have some great suggestions.
- Top the soup with some extra cheese
- Add bacon bits
- A warm batch of jalapeño cheddar biscuits
- Honey beer bread would be to die for
But if you’re really looking to outdo yourself, you have to make this garlic bread grilled cheese. Trust me; you won’t be sorry.
Options for Thickening the Soup
This recipe uses a roux – a mixture of butter, flour, and milk – that thickens as it heats, and you’ll add in the liquid. Add more flour, and you’ll get an even thicker soup.
If you don’t want to add more flour, you could try blending the soup. Even just blending half will make it thicker and creamier, and you will still have some texture.
Adding a slurry – water and cornstarch – to the hot soup will also work to thicken it. Try mixing three tablespoons each of cornstarch and cold water, then adding it into the soup.
Another option is to up the dairy. This could be using heavy cream instead of milk or adding in extra cheese.
More Soups You’ll Enjoy
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