Broccoli…ranks right up there with spelling the word vacuum…and why I normally refer to it as “broc.” – it’s just easier.
Don’t even get me started on gray vs. grey…
I woke up this morning to dreary weather. It was gray/grey and overcast with a drizzle. Rain and high winds were slated for the afternoon. I knew the hub was riding his motorcycle to work, so I was worried about that …enter the never-ending headache’s return and I knew it was going to be a sucky Monday. No worries, I pressed on. I got to work just before the rain started really coming down.
It was definitely soup weather. This was confirmed when I got caught in the middle of the storm without an umbrella. By the time I got from building A to my car, I was soaked. It was at that moment that I decided to make soup for dinner.
On my way home from work, I stopped at the grocery store to pick up the bread for the bowls and some of the ingredients that I didn’t have on hand. I had come across a “Copy That!” recipe in the January/February Food Network Magazine for Panera’s Broccoli-Cheddar Soup. It just happens to be one of Hilly’s favorites, so I thought I’d try mastering it. She’s under the weather with a cold, so she couldn’t try it in person…but there was enough for the freezer for a later date.
Disclaimer: This is definitely not a low-fat soup…see all of those cubes of butter? Full fat half-and-half…yep! I was not going for healthy this evening. I was going for comfort. I can think of several ways to cut down on the goodness calories. Fat free half-and-half, reduced fat cheese, etc. Not sure there really is an etc., but there has got to be other ways.
6 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter
1 Small Onion
1/4 Cup All-Purpose Flour
2 Cups Half-and-Half
3 Cups Low-Sodium Chicken Broth
2 Bay Leaves
1/4 Teaspoon Freshly Grated Nutmeg (note: could use a grinder – birthday hint…)
Kosher Salt and Freshly Ground Pepper
7 inch Round Bread Bowls – the only fresh out of the oven ones were the Dutch Crunch – it was fine, but sourdough would be better
4 Cups Broccoli Florets (worked out to be one head)
1 Large Carrot, Diced
2 1/2 Cups (about 8 ounces) Grated Sharp White and Yellow Cheddar Cheese
I added the onion once the butter started melting over medium heat…cook onions until tender – about 5 minutes.
Adding the flour and juggling the camera one-handed proved to be a little difficult.
Whisk in the flour and cook until golden brown (took about 3 minutes)
Gradually whisk in the half-and-half until smooth – not exactly sure how you get it super smooth with the onions…but close enough.
Action shot…hold your excitement…I added the chicken broth, bay leaves and nutmeg…
Then I seasoned with salt and ground pepper. I brought things to a simmer, reduced the heat to medium-low and then cooked uncovered until thickened – 20 minutes.
I diced up the carrot, shredded the cheese and got the broccoli florets ready for the pot.
I then got the bread bowls prepped and ready for filling…
I added the broccoli and diced carrots to the broth mixture and simmered until tender – it took just over 20 minutes.
I broke out my craptastic work horse of a blender…tried a smoothie blender and it sucked, this one has done just fine. I used a ladle to transfer the soup into the blender and then let it rip…(note: I just used the blend button – make sure you remove the bay leaves before the puree process) – I had to blend in two batches. Option 2 – if you have one, you can use an immersion blender right in the pot.
I then whisked the cheese into the green slop 😉 over medium heat. The recipe gives the option to add 3/4 cup water at this point, I didn’t need to do that, the consistency was perfect.
Soup is served! Yes, it really is that green.
I thought it really did taste like the Panera soup. The only difference being that I don’t think Panera purees it to the level that the “copy cat” recipe called for. Dan was not a fan of the texture. He prefers the Broccoli-Cheddar soup from Boudin Bakery at Disney’s California Adventure Park. I will now be on the search for that recipe.
I got 4 servings out of the batch and put 2 in the freezer for future lunches. Next time I think I’ll just drive to Panera to shell out $6.00 and some change.
All in all…I’m glad I tried it.