Better-than-Panera Broccoli Cheese Soup
Nothing gets me going like a great soup! What about you? I think you are either a soup person…or not. I am soup people, I could eat it every night; brothy, creamy, tomato based — all types, I just don’t do seafood.
I have never been a fan of “bottom-dwellers.” A few years ago after taking Krill Oil as my omega for 6 months, I ended up in the doctor’s office with a “classic shellfish” rash, it wasn’t pretty! While not a huge allergy, it was all I needed to hear to steer clear of shellfish. My poor, shellfish loving, New England raised husband; he loves all shellfish! Sorry honey!
Ah, but I digress…back to this amazing Better-than-Panera 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. I made a pot to bring to their family earlier this week, only to find out she hadn’t been released from the hospital. The docs were having a hard time controlling her pain; so along with making this soup, I sent texts to my prayer-warrior friends. Never, ever underestimate the power of prayerful petitions to our great, loving and compassionate God! So our family ate the soup instead, and I made her family a fresh pot later in the week.
//This post was updated and edited March 2019//
Broccoli Cheese Soup Using Fresh Ingredients
It hit “the spot” that’s for sure! I even dished it out in these cute little to-go soup cups, I’m a sucker for anything fun in the paper or plastic goods department. Great to bring to work for a quick, hot, nutritious, heat and serve lunch — or store in the fridge at home during a busy week, pop in the micro for a few seconds and presto, you have lunch!
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I hope you give it a try, it’s better than any soup using condensed soups or Velveeta cheese, no fake cheese in this soup!! I wanted a soup where you could taste the cheese, not just tint it orange. The orange tinting actually comes from the carrots instead! And seriously, it’s was pretty darn easy!
How to Make Better-than-Panera Broccoli Cheese Soup
In a medium-sized soup pot, heat a tablespoon of butter over medium high heat. Toss in onions, browning or caramelizing, stirring occasionally.
WHAT’S A ROUX
Remove the onions to a plate or bowl while you prepare the roux, see the definition below
noun. 1. a cooked mixture of butter or other fat and flour used to thicken sauces, soups, etc. Origin of roux. Latin.
Melt 1/4 cup of butter in the same pot used to brown your onions. Then add your all-purpose flour (I’ve had luck doing this 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.
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, which are a great stand by for soups and stews!
Add your broccoli florets and carrots…
…and then the caramelized onions and stir to combine, simmer for 10-20 minutes*, covered.
When veggies are tender, using an immersion blender blend until desired smoothness, or remove 1-2 cups of the soup and pour into blender, blend until smooth, add back to the soup for a creamier soup. You don’t want to blend the entire pot of soup, leaving some chunks.
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CARROT TIP | *Pre-shredded carrots from the grocery store are a bit thicker than home shredded, so be prepared to simmer your soup a bit longer, making sure your carrots are tender before blending.
Serve warm with a chunk of crusty bread or if you are feeling really adventurous, make these AH-Mazing Oatmeal Dinner Rolls or Easy Beer Bread but you’ll have to start these much earlier if you want to eat them with your soup.
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- 1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon butter, divided
- 1/2 medium chopped onion
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour (or swap out All-Purpose Gluten Free Flour)
- 2 cups half-and-half (whole milk can also be used)
- 2-4 cups chicken stock (or vegetable broth)
- 1/2 lb fresh broccoli (about 3 cups) chopped into bite size pieces
- 1 cup carrot, grated/shredded (about 1–2 large carrots)
- 1–1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt (to taste, watch this, taste before adding any, cheese can be salty)
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg or fresh ground nutmeg
- black pepper to taste
- 8 oz grated sharp cheddar (white or yellow) cheese (about 2 cups)
- In a medium sauce pan or medium heat, saute onion in 1 tablespoon of butter until caramelized (browned), remove from pot and reserve.
- Place the 1/4 cup of butter in the same sauce pan, melt completely.
- Add flour, over medium heat and whisking constantly for 2-3 minutes until thickened and brown. Slowly, while whisking pour in your half-and-half, will thicken up very quickly, keep adding until combined.
- Add your chicken broth and whisk well to combine, bring to simmer (it'll take 3-5 minutes, watch closely, it will rise up quickly). Add broccoli, carrots and reserved caramelized onions, cover, simmering about 15-20 minutes until tender. If too thick, add more broth, up to 2 cups.
- Add salt and pepper to taste. Remove 1-2 cups of the chunky mixture and blend in blender or lightly blend 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.
© 2019 | This recipe for Panera Broccoli Cheese Soup was featured first on The Fresh Cooky.
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Serving Size:1 cup
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 621 Total Fat: 43g Saturated Fat: 25g Trans Fat: 1g Unsaturated Fat: 14g Cholesterol: 128mg Sodium: 6894mg Carbohydrates: 32g Fiber: 5g Sugar: 11g Protein: 29g