Adapted from the kitchen of: cdkitchen.com
There’s something about a bowl of hot soup that warms my heart. It’s old-school, rustic and hearty. There’s one soup I became a big fan of after I tried it for the first time at Panera. Yes, you know what I’m talking about. Panera’s broccoli cheddar soup is to die for.
One evening I got home from work and it was my turn to cook, however, I had nothing planned. There were some random items in the fridge like broccoli, cheese and heavy cream. Ah-ha! Jared and I immediately searched the web for a recipe and let me tell you how identical it was to Panera’s version. It may be even healthier, minus the butter. And because Jared always wants his protein, we added grilled shredded chicken, which made it even heartier.
5 tablespoons of butter
1/2 medium onion, chopped
1/4 cup flour
2 cups half-and-half (I used 1 cup of milk and 1 cup of heavy cream)
2 cups chicken stock or bouillon
1/2 pound fresh broccoli
1 cup carrots, julienned
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
8 ounces grated sharp cheddar
1 pack of chicken tenderloins (roughly 8 strips)
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1. Grill the chicken tenderloins. This process is optional, but the soup is really nice with the addition of shredded chicken. Heat a hot grill pan with a 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Salt + pepper the chicken tenderloins and place on the grill. Each side takes about 4-6 minutes depending on thickness. Once the chicken is completely cooked through, set aside and cool for several minutes. Once cool, take 2 forks and shred the chicken.
2. Sauté the onion. In a heated pot, melt 1 tablespoon of butter and sauté onions until transparent. Set the onions aside in a bowl. Meanwhile in a separate smaller pot, heat up 2 cups of water and add 2 bouillon cubes til it dissolves. If you have chicken stock handy, skip this step.
3. Make the roux. In the same pot you had cooked the onions, melt the remaining 4 tablespoons of butter over medium heat. Once melted, add the flour and whisk over medium heat for 3-5 minutes. Stirring constantly, slowly add the half-and-half (this is called making a roux). After nicely combined, slowly add the chicken stock and whisk together. Let it simmer for 15 minutes or so until it gets nice and thick, stir occasionally so it doesn’t burn.
4. Add the vegetables. Place the broccoli, julienned carrots and sautéed onions into the creamy mixture. Cook over low heat for 20-25 minutes until the veggies are tender. Add salt and pepper. The soup should be thickened by now. If you like less chunky soup, at this point you can take a hand-held immersion blender to smooth out the consistency. I did not because I like my soup on the thicker-side. You decide. At the end, add the grated cheese and shredded chicken; stir until well blended. Add the nutmeg and serve with warm crusty french bread.
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