Oh my word! Creamy soup perfection! I’ve had this recipe for copy-cat Panera Broccoli Cheese Soup printed off for some time. This week, the week between Christmas and New Years seemed like the perfect time for some heart-warming, comfort-food soup. Personally, my husband and I thought it was better-than-Panera’s Broccoli Cheese Soup.
Filled with chunks of real broccoli, scattered with shavings of carrots, in a rich, creamy, cheesy mouth-watering base.
Better-than-Panera Broccoli Cheese Soup
Nothing gets me going like a great cup of soup! What about you? I think you are a soup person…or not. I am soup people, I could just about eat it every night, all types; broth, cream, tomato based, I just don’t do seafood soups. Not a fan of bottom-dwellers, I’ve teased people saying that “it’s against my religion to eat bottom-dwellers” but the truth is I’ve never liked it, I know crazy right?! I’ve tried them all, but can’t quite get passed the texture of them. Then a few years ago after taking Krill Oil as my omega for about 6 months, I ended up in the doctor’s office with a “classic shellfish” facial rash, it wasn’t pretty! While not a huge allergy, it was all I needed to hear to steer completely clear of shellfish. My poor shellfish loving husband who grew up in New England loves the stuff, sorry honey!
Ah, but I digress…back to this amazing Broccoli Cheese Soup (with no shellfish).
I’ve had this recipe sitting around for awhile, I was inspired to make this soup to bring to my dear friend who had surgery this week. I made a pot to bring to she and her family earlier this week, only to find out she hadn’t been released from the hospital, they were having a hard time controlling her pain, so along with making this soup, I sent texts to my prayer-warrior friends. Never, ever under-estimate the power of prayerful petititions to our great, loving and compassionate God!
I wanted her soup to be fresh, so my husband and I ate it instead! A families got to eat! But have no fear, I made another pot to bring to the entire family. There is nothing like a warm cup of soup to mend what ails you.
It hit my “spot” that’s for sure! I even dished it out in these cute little Dixie to-go soup cups, I’m a sucker for anything fun in the paper or plastic goods department. Great to bring to work with you to just heat and serve, or store in the fridge at home during a busy week, pop in the micro for a few seconds and presto, you have lunch!
I hope you will give it a try, it’s better than any soup using condensed soups or Velveeta cheese, I’m not saying I don’t use those things, I do, but sparingly. I wanted a soup that you could taste the cheese in, not just tint the soup orange. The orange tinting actually comes from the carrots instead! And seriously, it was pretty darn easy, just took a little patience, time and love.
In a medium-sized soup pot, start by caramelizing your onions in a tablespoon of butter.
Remove the onions to a plate or bowl while you prepare your roux*.
*noun. 1. a cooked mixture of butter or other fat and flour used to thicken sauces, soups, etc. Origin of roux. Latin.
Melt your 1/4 cup of butter in the same pot used to brown your onions. Then add your flour (I’ve had luck doing this at times with a good Gluten Free All-Purpose flour) and whisk or stir it until it thickens and turns a golden brown, about 2-3 minutes.
Slowly pour in your half and half, whisking while you do…it’s a bit hard to whisk and photograph all at the same time, but be assured I grabbed that whisk as soon as I was finished snapping the shot.
Next add your chicken stock/broth. Whisking to combine.
Increase your heat slightly to bring it all to a simmer (watch closely, once it boils it can easily rise and boil right out of your pot and you don’t want to lose any of this deliciousness). Simmer for 10 minutes. It will thicken, but not be too thick, the rest of the ingredients will be what helps to thicken it up.
Meanwhile, chop your broccoli into bite size pieces and grate your carrot (one large carrot did the trick) or use the shredded carrots* from the grocery store, a great stand by for soups and stews!
Add your broccoli florets, carrots and caramelized onions and stir to combine, simmer for 20-25 minutes*, covered.
When veggies are tender, remove 1-2 cups of the soup if desired and blend until smooth, add back to the soup for a creamier soup.
TIP: *If you use the pre-shredded carrots from the grocery, you will have to simmer them a bit longer, maybe an additional 10 minutes.
Add your shredded sharp cheddar cheese,
your salt and pepper and stir to combine.
Finally, I wouldn’t skip this step if I were you, the subtle nuttiness of it blends so beautifully, enhancing all of the flavors of the soup.
Serve warm with a chunk of crusty bread or if you are feeling really adventurous, make these AH-Mazing Oatmeal Dinner Rolls, but you’ll have to start these much earlier if you want to eat them with your soup.
This recipe was adapted from a food.com recipe for Panera Broccoli Cheese soup.
If you enjoyed this soup, give these others a try as well.
- 1 tablespoon butter
- ½ medium chopped onion
- ¼ cup butter
- ¼ cup flour (or swap out All-Purpose Gluten Free Flour)
- 2 cups half-and-half
- 2 cups chicken stock
- ½ lb fresh broccoli (about 3 cups) chopped into bite size pieces
- 1 cup carrot, shredded (about one large carrot)
- 1-1½ teaspoons salt (to taste)
- ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
- black pepper to taste
- 8 oz grated sharp cheddar cheese (about 2 cups)
- In a medium sauce pan or medium heat, saute the onion in the 1 tablespoon of butter.
- Remove from pot and reserve.
- Place the ¼ cup of butter in the same sauce pan, melt it completely.
- Add the flour, over medium heart and whisk constantly for 2-3 minutes until thickened and brown.
- Slowly, while whisking pour in your half-and-half.
- Next, add your chicken stock and whisk well to combine.
- Bring to simmer (it'll take 3-5 minutes, watch closely, it will rise up quickly) for about 10 minutes.
- Add the broccoli florets, carrots and reserved caramelized onions.
- Stir well to combine and return to simmer, cooking over low for about 20-25 minutes.
- Longer if using store bought shredded carrots, until tender, probably around 30-35 minutes.
- Add your salt and pepper and stir to combine.
- Remove 1-2 cups of the chunky mixture and blend in blender or using immersion blender.
- Return to soup pot and stir to combine.
- This will yield a smoother, creamier soup, but it's not required.
- Return to low heat and add your shredded cheese, stirring until completely melted.
- Serve with a crusty loaf of bread and butter.