19 December 2011

broccoli-cheddar soup

let me start out by apologizing to all of you who don't live near a panera.  i'm sorry.  

i'm not saying it's the best restaurant i've eaten at or that they have the best food ever.  but what i am saying is they have pretty fantastic food for the price and ambiance.  it's a great place to run to for a last minute dinner effort with kids (their mac and cheese is really good!) or for that bowl of soup that you want to talk over while chatting with a friend.  speaking of bowls of soup...that's what's been on my mind this week.  one of panera's popular soups is their broccoli cheddar.  it's not my favorite of all the many other choices they have, but it is good.  being 8 months pregnant, though, i get these cravings and for some odd reason it was panera's broccoli cheddar soup, even though it's not something that i generally choose when i go to eat there.  go figure.  as you see, so goes the mind of an 8-month along pregnant woman.  i can't even figure it out myself and it's my brain.  

so i did a search online and came across one of my favorite recipe resources...food network magazine's "almost-famous" recipes.  if you take the magazine, you know what i'm talking about.  if you don't, here's a quick explanation.  every issue of the magazine has an "almost-famous (blank)" recipe.  the idea is that they figure out a copycat recipe behind popular dishes from restaurants or products from the grocery store and share them with their readers.  i've tried a few of them and they've been great recipes.  the only problem is that the online version of the recipe doesn't come with the explanation of what this "almost-famous" recipe is copying.  i can only assume it's panera's broccoli cheddar since it is their most popular soup, but i could be wrong.  what i can guarantee is that it's good.  i've made some slight adjustments, but for the most part it's the same.  and it's good, but i already said that.  

ps: i was a little hesitant of the addition of nutmeg.  it was definitely stronger the first day, but it melded much better with the other flavors when i heated it up for leftovers.  actually, i liked it even better the day after.  and please excuse the above photograph.  the bowl is awfully messy...what can i say?  it was my second bowl of soup and i wasn't about to dirty a new bowl for the sake of a picture.  and that bright sunshine?  well, it's rare in this part of the world this time of year.  i just had to document that not EVERY day in portland, or is rainy and overcast.  but a nice warm bowl of soup is always welcome in the chilly winter weather, rain or sun.

almost-famous broccoli-cheddar soup
recipe adapted from foodnetwork.com

6 tbsp butter (i only added about 4 tbsp)
1 onion, chopped
1/4 cup flour
2 cups half-and-half ( i used whole milk)
3 cups chicken broth
2 bay leaves
1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg (i added 1/8 tsp dried nutmeg)
kosher salt and ground black pepper
4 cups broccoli florets (i used 24 oz. frozen broccoli florets)
1 large carrot, diced (i used 3 carrots)
2 1/2 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese (i used white cheddar)

melt butter in large pot over medium heat.  add onion and cook until tender, about 10 minutes.  whisk in the flour and cook until golden, 5 minutes.  gradually whisk in the half-and-half (or milk) until smooth.  add chicken broth, bay leaves, and nutmeg.  season with salt and pepper and bring to a simmer.  add the diced carrots now if you're using frozen broccoli.  reduce heat to med-low and cook uncovered until thick, about 20 minutes.

add broccoli (and the carrots if the broccoli is fresh) and cook 20 minutes, until the carrots and broccoli are tender.  discard the bay leaves and puree soup with an immersion blender until smooth.  turn the heat off and let sit for 10 minutes.  add the cheese and stir until the cheese is all melted.  if the soup is too thick, add 3/4 cup water.  adjust the seasonings accordingly.  a dash or two of tabasco would never hurt either, but only if you've lived in louisiana.  it's great served in a bread bowl!

1 comment:

  1. Made it! Loved it! Can't stop eating it!!