We finally got our first serious snowstorm of this winter over the weekend here in Denver. Something to help us out with the drought we’re already in and work on keeping the fires down this summer. It was actually one of those perfect snowstorms because it came in over the weekend and we had no real need to be anywhere, so we stayed home, all warm and cozy.
Cold, snowy weather just brings out the feelings of wanting nice warm soup and I tend to have cravings for Panera Bread’s broccoli and cheese soup with thick slices of crusty bread to dip into it. It’s just gives me warm and fuzzy feelings of happiness inside when I have a bowl of it.
I searched online for a recipe and settled on using the one from CDKitchen, a copycat recipe site. Of course I changed things up a little from the posted recipe, then again when do I ever not do that?! I upped the amount of broccoli, switched out one cup of half and half for skim milk to cut the fat, used mostly olive oil instead of butter, used veggie stock instead of chicken and used shallots instead of onions for a lighter flavor.
I think you are going to want to use fresh broccoli in this, instead of frozen but if anyone tries it with frozen, please let me know how it turned out. And don’t worry about chopping everything to small or fine because all of this goes into a blender or food processor anyway.
Over all the soup was awesome and tasted very similar to that from Panera. It was easy to make, which means we’ll probably be eating it more often here at home since we don’t eat at Panera often and the cost to make the entire pot of this was the same as buying my soup and sandwich combo at Panera. We did notice one thing about it and that was it wasn’t very good leftover the next day, so plan on making enough for the fresh serving and not having it as a leftover. The flavors and texture really changed even with adding some milk back in so I don’t recommend it the next day.
It was cheesy with plenty of broccoli and soaked up beautifully with bread. I served it with half turkey sandwiches, the way I love it from Panera. Have fun warming up your soul with this very yummy soup.
Broccoli and Cheese Soup
3 Tbsp. olive oil
1/2 cup chopped shallots
2 Tbsp. butter
1/4 cup flour
1 cup half and half
1 cup skim milk
2 cups chicken or veggie stock
3/4 pound fresh broccoli
1 cup sliced carrots
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
8 oz. grated sharp cheddar cheese
salt and pepper to taste
Add 1 Tablespoon of olive to a large pot and sweat shallots over medium heat. Add the rest of olive oil and butter to pan and whisk in the flour after butter has melted. Whisk and stir over constantly for 2 to 3 minutes or until flour is browning and cooked.
Slowly begin to add the half and half, stirring constantly to combine to help prevent lumps. Add the milk in the same way, followed by the chicken or veggie stock (for vegetarian version), whisking constantly. Once completely combines and is smooth, turn down heat to a simmer and allow soup to cook for 20 minutes.
Add all the broccoli, reserving 1/2 cup and carrots to the pot and continue to cook over low heat until veggies are tender and soup is thickening, about 20 minutes.
Chop remaining broccoli into small pieces and steam using the microwave until crisp tender. Set aside until end.
Pour batches into a blender or food processor and purée. Return the soup back to the pot over low heat and add the cheese. Add the nutmeg and stir until well blended. Season to taste with salt and pepper, stir in reserved broccoli pieces and serve immediately. Garnish with a little shredded cheese if you desire.
Makes 4 servings.
More Broccoli recipes and Panera’s Secret Menu: