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Panera’s Copycat Broccoli Cheese Soup

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Panera’s Broccoli Cheese Soup is a beloved favorite, known for its creamy texture and rich, cheesy flavor. This homemade version is a perfect replica of the restaurant’s classic soup, and it’s easy to make with simple ingredients. In this blog post, we’ll guide you through the step-by-step process of making Panera’s Copycat Broccoli Cheese Soup, provide helpful cooking notes, and offer variations to suit different tastes and dietary preferences.

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Ingredients

  • 2.5 cups chopped small broccoli florets
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1.5 cups chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup diced onions
  • 1 cup shredded carrots
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 cup skim or fat-free milk
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

Step 1: Prepare the Vegetables

  1. Chop the Broccoli:
    • Wash and chop the broccoli into small florets.
  2. Shred the Carrots:
    • Shred the carrots using a grater or food processor.
  3. Dice the Onions:
    • Finely dice the onions.

Step 2: Cook the Vegetables

  1. Sauté the Onions:
    • In a large pot or Dutch oven, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the diced onions and sauté until they are soft and translucent, about 5 minutes.
  2. Add Carrots and Broccoli:
    • Add the shredded carrots and chopped broccoli to the pot. Cook for an additional 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Step 3: Make the Soup Base

  1. Add the Flour:
    • Sprinkle the flour over the vegetables and stir well to coat them evenly. Cook for 1-2 minutes to eliminate the raw flour taste.
  2. Add the Broth and Milk:
    • Slowly pour in the chicken broth, heavy whipping cream, and milk, stirring constantly to prevent lumps. Bring the mixture to a simmer.

Step 4: Cook the Soup

  1. Simmer:
    • Reduce the heat to low and let the soup simmer for about 15-20 minutes, or until the broccoli is tender.

Step 5: Add the Cheese

  1. Stir in the Cheese:
    • Gradually add the shredded cheddar cheese to the soup, stirring constantly until the cheese is fully melted and the soup is smooth.
  2. Season:
    • Season the soup with salt and pepper to taste.

Step 6: Serve

  1. Ladle and Serve:
    • Ladle the hot soup into bowls and serve immediately. Enjoy your homemade Panera’s Copycat Broccoli Cheese Soup with a side of crusty bread or a fresh salad.

Cook Notes and Variations

Cook Notes:

  • Cheese: Use freshly shredded cheddar cheese for the best melting quality and flavor. Pre-shredded cheese often contains anti-caking agents that can affect the texture of the soup.
  • Thickening: If you prefer a thicker soup, you can add more flour, or if it’s too thick, add more milk or broth to reach your desired consistency.

Variations:

  • Vegetarian Version:
    • Substitute the chicken broth with vegetable broth to make the soup vegetarian.
  • Spicy Soup:
    • Add a pinch of cayenne pepper or red pepper flakes for a spicy kick.
  • Bacon Topping:
    • Top the soup with crumbled cooked bacon for added flavor and crunch.
  • Cauliflower Addition:
    • Add 1 cup of chopped cauliflower florets along with the broccoli for a different texture and flavor.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. Can I use frozen broccoli?

Yes, you can use frozen broccoli. Just make sure to thaw and drain it well before adding it to the soup.

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2. How do I store leftovers?

Store any leftover soup in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Reheat on the stove or in the microwave before serving.

3. Can I freeze this soup?

Yes, you can freeze the soup. Allow it to cool completely, then transfer it to a freezer-safe container. Freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight before reheating.

4. What can I serve with Broccoli Cheese Soup?

This soup pairs well with a crusty bread, garlic bread, or a fresh green salad.

5. Can I use different types of cheese?

Yes, you can use other types of cheese such as Monterey Jack, Colby, or a blend of cheeses for a different flavor.

Panera’s Copycat Broccoli Cheese Soup is a creamy and comforting classic that’s perfect for any occasion. With its rich, cheesy flavor and tender broccoli, this homemade version is sure to be a hit with family and friends. Whether you’re making it for a cozy dinner or a special lunch, this recipe is easy to follow and full of delicious flavors. Give this Panera’s Copycat Broccoli Cheese Soup recipe a try and enjoy a warm and satisfying meal. Happy cooking!