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Better than Panera broccoli cheddar soup

by Karen on February 1, 2012

I’m back on the fitness train, so it will be a long time before I can enjoy this particular recipe again. But that’s no reason I can’t share it with you!

I am an absolute fanatic for broccoli cheddar soup, and this experiment started when we attempted to recreate Panera’s version. This is a blend of a lot of different versions that we’ve found through various sources. The following directions, tips, and tricks are written by Tony since he’d got a lot to say on the subject.

Broccoli Cheddar soup

I’ve tried to make this many different ways, and through all of the incarnations, I’ve learned a thing or two about this recipe. First, you really have to use a light-colored stock; darker stocks alter the flavor too profoundly and make it difficult to attain that cheddar-y color. Second, shredding the carrots instead of dicing or doing a juilenne helps with time and consistency. Third, the stock and dairy should be in equal proportion. Fourth, cut the broccoli (a food processor just demolishes it and turns the soup a greenish hue) and cook it in pieces separately, then fold in; the soup never gets hot enough to cook the broccoli fully. Fifth, anything less fattening than whole milk isn’t worth it.

  • 1/2 medium onion, diced
  • 4 tablespoons melted butter
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 2 cups half-and-half (or whole milk)
  • 2 cups light stock (chicken or vegetable)
  • 1/2 pound (or more) fresh broccoli florets
  • 1 cup carrots, peeled and shredded
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 8 to 16 ounces grated sharp cheddar cheese

Cut the broccoli into small pieces, no more than 1/2 inch in diameter. Bring a small pot of water to a boil, add salt, and cook the broccoli until it is bright green and soft, approximately 5 minutes.

Dice the onion and saute in the melted butter until translucent. Add the carrots and cook until the carrots have softened.

Whisk in the flour and cook for 3 to 5 minutes over low heat, just until all the flour has been absorbed by the butter and the mixture has thickened. Pour in the stock and dairy, and simmer until the liquid is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.

Once the soup is thickened, stir in the cheese one small handful at a time. Drain the broccoli and stir it into the soup. Serve with crusty bread.

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