Harris Teeter had small, round sourdough bread loaves on sale the other day, and I immediately thought of using them as bowls for broccoli and cheese soup, much like what Panera Bread serves. After doing a short search on the Internet for a copycat recipe, I decided to make Food Network’s Almost-Famous Broccoli-Cheddar Soup, with just a few changes.
I added more cheese (of course), and tried to lighten up some of the ingredients by using fat free half and half. Next time I will use 2% cheddar, and probably add a bit more of it as well. I also made my version a bit chunkier, but that’s just a personal preference.
Is this as good as Panera Bread’s version? Probably not, but it’s pretty darn close and I would certainly make it again!
Ingredients (4 servings)
- 6 tablespoons butter
- 1 cup sweet onion, diced small
- ¼ cup all- purpose flour
- 2 cups fat free half-and-half
- 3 cups chicken broth
- 2 bay leaves
- Freshly grated nutmeg, to taste
- Sea salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste
- 4 small round sourdough bread loaves (7 inches ea.)
- 4 cups broccoli florets
- 1 cup carrot, peeled and diced
- 8 oz. sharp cheddar cheese, grated (plus more for garnish)
- 4 oz. sharp white cheddar cheese, grated (plus more for garnish)
Melt the butter in a large pot over medium heat, and sauté the onion until tender. Stir in the flour and cook for 3 to 4 minutes.
Gradually add the half-and-half until the mixture is smooth. Add the chicken broth, bay leaves, nutmeg, salt and pepper, and cook on medium for 20 minutes or so, until the soup begins to thicken.
Prepare the bread bowls by cutting a circle in the top of each loaf, leaving a one-inch border all around. Remove the top and hollow out the middle, making sure you leave a nice shell with no tears, etc. I use the excess bread to make croutons or to feed the birds.
Add the broccoli and carrots to the soup and simmer until tender, 20 minutes or so.
Remove the bay leaves. Using an immersion blender (get one of these if you don’t have one!), mix the soup until it is almost pureed. I like to have some small, bite-sized pieces of the carrots and broccoli, but if you like a smooth soup, blend to your liking. BTW, if you don’t have an immersion blender, use a regular one, working in small batches.
Add the cheese to the soup and whisk until melted. If the soup is too thick, add some water until it reaches the desired consistency.
Ladle the soup into the bread bowls. Garnish with a combination of grated cheese, fresh chives, green onions and bacon bits! Serve with a tossed salad.
Love soup but don’t feel like making it? Check out my favorite soup places in Raleigh by clicking here.
Eat, drink and be merry!
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