I love Panera’s Broccoli Cheddar Soup. What I don’t love is how terrible I feel after consuming even a small bowl of it. I’m not talking about terrible as in, “Oh my god I just ate an ‘x’ calorie meal, my trainer is going to ride me so hard for this–” terrible. (By the way it totally sounds like I made that last sentence up. I’m 95% sure I overheard someone say it at a Starbucks while ordering one of those non fat skinny thingamajiggies. Either that or I dreamt it or I saw it on TV somewhere. Anyway it seemed real at the time, then by the next sentence that 5% of doubt kicked in.) Where the hell was I? — I’m talking terrible as in, “If the world were coming to an end in 1 minute and I was the only person who could save it simply by pressing a button 20 feet away, I literally do not think I could remove myself from this booth–” terrible. Ah, yes this is a food blog and today I’m talking about soup. I forgot for a second.
This should really be called Broccoli and Other Random Veggies Cheddar Soup, but that seemed kind of a wordy title. I’m sorry if you were looking for just broccoli and cheddar soup. I have a history of throwing in as many vegetables as I can into a dish, especially when they happen to be on their way to funksville in my fridge. Which is the exact circumstance I found myself in when I made this soup. Now that I have absolutely titillated your taste buds with the prospect of eating over ripe produce–on to the recipe!
2 heads broccoli (15-20 oz, chopped small)
1 onion (diced)
1 carrot (grated)
1 pepper (whatever you’re feeling-I used red, chopped small)
1 celery (diced)
1/2 cup corn
4 garlic cloves (diced)
4 oz cheddar cheese (grated)
2 cups low sodium chicken broth
2 cups water
2 cups milk (I used skim, use whatever you want/have)
3 tbsp flour
3 tbsp butter
salt, pepper to taste
1 1/2 tsp chili powder (optional)
Prepare all your vegetables.
Cook your onions with your 3 tbsp butter over medium heat until your onions are translucent. Yes you can use fake butter, I think I used half real, half fake.
Add your garlic and cook until fragrant, just a minute or so. I have a small cutting board and as the title of this blog states a small kitchen in general so a few other vegetables found their way in early.
Now add your 3 tbsp flour and mix until it forms a paste.
Cook until it no longer smells floury. We’re going for a blond roux here so just a few minutes.
Add your milk, broth, and water and bring to a boil. I used skim milk to keep this dish less heavy but it will obviously work with a heavier milk product. You can use vegetable broth to make this full veggie friendly, but just to let you know Panera puts chicken broth in theirs so vegetarians beware.
Add all your vegetables and simmer until soft. Cooking time will differ depending on how small you chopped everything, I would say no longer than 20 minutes though. This is why it’s a good idea to chop everything really small, it’ll cook considerably faster. Some will argue that the time saved in cooking was spent on chopping the vegetables smaller and I would argue that the fact you felt the need to make that argument is why you don’t have many friends.
You could stop here if you wanted. Some people like a chunky soup. But I think more people like a creamy broccoli soup so we’ll go a little farther. You can do this with a blender, food processor, or you can use something that gets used in our kitchen everyday–The $15 Immersion Blender!
Blend it as much or as little as you want then add your cheese. Add as much cheese as you want, I only added 4 oz. As much as I like cheese, it never seems to reciprocate those feelings.
I wait until the end to salt because blending everything together changes the flavors considerably. Because I added corn and used a red pepper my soup had a southwestern feel to it so I added 1 1/2 tsp of chili powder to compliment the flavor. Totally optional though, the soup was still delicious without it.
Here’s a delicious soup with lots of vegetables and less dairy than many broccoli cheddar soup recipes “so it doesn’t leave you with that heavy food feeling in your stomach.” I jest, it’s nummy and you should try it if you’re into nummy food. 🙂