Panera Copycat Broccoli Cheddar Soup

Updated on December 14, 2017
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Jan has been cooking and writing about food for over twenty years and has cooked on multiple television stations, including Food Network.

My son Boone and I fell in love with this rich, creamy soup and hated not having a Panera near us! So I came up with our own version, simple and delicious and a hit with the other kids too!
My son Boone and I fell in love with this rich, creamy soup and hated not having a Panera near us! So I came up with our own version, simple and delicious and a hit with the other kids too!

This Tasty Soup Is Almost at Your Fingertips

Recently, my son Boone and I have been traveling a bit, and we came across a Panera Bread. Now, we live in a tiny town, so we don't have one near us, and it was awful because we have fallen in love.

We love the fresh, natural, and homemade flavors at Panera Bread Company, and I didn't want to wait for another road trip before I got that luscious broccoli cheddar soup again. So I went to work duplicating it—and was pretty successful if I do say so myself.

This soup is just about everything you could want: rich, hearty, cheesy, and loaded with fresh flavor from the broccoli and carrots. When I finally got exactly what I wanted, several of the kids actually stood around in the kitchen, right at the stove, with bowls and silence. You always know you've done well then!

The only real recommendation I would make on this is to not let the soup boil after you've added the half and half. If you do, it might break or curdle. So be a little patient (it's only half an hour), and keep the pot at a mere simmer. You'll love the payoff.

Find a loaf of hearty, crusty bread and a big salad, and you've got a fabulous, easy weeknight meal in almost no time.

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/2 of a white onion, diced
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 2 cups half and half
  • 1 medium carrot (1 cup) grated or cut fine julienne
  • 1/2 pound fresh or frozen broccoli, chopped into bite-sized pieces
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
  • 2 cups (8 ounces) grated sharp cheddar cheese

Directions

  1. In a large saucepan, melt the butter over medium-low heat. Add the onions, and stir, cooking just a minute or two.
  2. Add the flour and stir well, until all the white has disappeared and the flour is fully incorporated.
  3. Slowly whisk in the chicken broth and half and half, stirring constantly to keep it smooth.
  4. Add the carrot and broccoli, nutmeg, salt, and pepper. Bring the soup up just to a simmer, and simmer, uncovered about 20-25 minutes. Don't let the soup boil - keep the heat low. If it boils it could separate or curdle.
  5. Stir in the shredded sharp cheddar cheese, and stir just until melted. The soup is done! Taste and adjust for salt and pepper, and serve with crusty bread.

Start with Butter and Onion

Melt butter over medium low heat. Add the onion and cook just a minute or so before adding the flour. This forms the flavor base for the soup.
Melt butter over medium low heat. Add the onion and cook just a minute or so before adding the flour. This forms the flavor base for the soup.

Add Flour, Then Liquids

Whisk the flour into the butter and onion mixture, stirring constantly to incorporate the butter and flour fully. This will thicken the soup. Add the broth slowly in small batches, stirring between each, to avoid lumps.
Whisk the flour into the butter and onion mixture, stirring constantly to incorporate the butter and flour fully. This will thicken the soup. Add the broth slowly in small batches, stirring between each, to avoid lumps.

Stir in Half and Half

Once the chicken broth is smooth, add the half and half slowly. Watch your temperature after this - the soup will curdle if it gets too hot. Keep the soup barely simmering and you'll be fine.
Once the chicken broth is smooth, add the half and half slowly. Watch your temperature after this - the soup will curdle if it gets too hot. Keep the soup barely simmering and you'll be fine.

Add Carrots and Broccoli

Add the carrots and broccoli to the soup pot and stir. Keep the pot at a bare simmer for just at 20-25 minutes, or until the vegetables are soft and cooked through, but still have some body.
Add the carrots and broccoli to the soup pot and stir. Keep the pot at a bare simmer for just at 20-25 minutes, or until the vegetables are soft and cooked through, but still have some body.

Just Nutmeg, Kosher Salt and Pepper

The seasonings for this soup are pretty simple - only fresh nutmeg, kosher salt and black pepper. I called for a teaspoon of salt but taste and adjust for more if needed at the end.
The seasonings for this soup are pretty simple - only fresh nutmeg, kosher salt and black pepper. I called for a teaspoon of salt but taste and adjust for more if needed at the end.

Stir in the Sharp Cheddar

Stir in the grated cheese and stir until melted. I learned the hard way, more is not always better. Too much cheese and the soup gets grainy and can be too salty. Two cups is perfect.
Stir in the grated cheese and stir until melted. I learned the hard way, more is not always better. Too much cheese and the soup gets grainy and can be too salty. Two cups is perfect.

Perfect, Creamy Broccoli Cheddar Soup

Ready to serve! It's perfect with a fresh green salad and a loaf of crusty sourdough bread.
Ready to serve! It's perfect with a fresh green salad and a loaf of crusty sourdough bread.

How to Make Your Own Chicken Broth

© 2017 Jan Charles

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    • Bill Yovino profile image

      Bill Yovino 5 weeks ago

      Sounds good! I'll give it a try.