During my college days, Panera Bread was an establishment I frequented often. Between their cinnamon crunch bagels and homemade soups in a bread bowl I was a happy school girl. Their broccoli-cheddar soup was one of my favorites so when I got my Food Network magazine last month I was floored to see their version of this soup. I have to admit I haven’t had their soup in a while so it was tough to make a comparison, but the soup was still really good. The only thing that threw me off was the tiny bit of nutmeg thrown in. It was probably just because I knew it was in the soup so the flavor was more apparent, but I don’t know that I would add it in next time. I highly recommend serving the soup in a bread bowl, it makes the experience so much better!!
Broccoli-Cheddar SoupPrinter Friendly Version
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 small onion, chopped
1/4 cup all purpose flour
2 cups half-and-half
3 cups chicken broth
2 bay leaves
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 7-inch sourdough bread boules (round loaves)
4 cups broccoli florets (about 1 head)
1 large carrot, diced
2 1/2 cups (about 8 oz) grated sharp white and yellow cheddar cheese, plus more for garnish
Melt the butter in a large Dutch oven or pot over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Whisk in the flour and cook until golden, 3 to 4 minutes, then gradually whisk in the half-and-half until smooth. Add the chicken broth, bay leaves and nutmeg, then season with salt and pepper and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook , uncovered, until thickened, about 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, prepare the bread bowls. Using a sharp knife, cut a circle into the top of each loaf, leaving a 1 inch border all around. Remove the bread top, then hollow out the middle with a fork or your fingers, leaving a thick bread shell.
Add the broccoli and carrot to the broth mixture and simmer until tender, about 20 minutes. Discard the bay leaves. Puree the soup in batches in a blender until smooth; you’ll still have flecks of carrot and broccoli. Return to the pot.
Add the cheese to the soup and whisk over medium heat until melted. Add up to 3/4 cup water if the soup is too thick. Ladle into the bread bowls and garnish with cheese.
Source: The Food Network magazine, January/February 2010