This is a delicious copycat recipe for Panera Bread's broccoli cheese soup. Eating a bowl of it reminds me of my Mom's broccoli casserole without the cracker topping. It is easy to make but does take some time to cook. The recipe only makes 4 bowls so you may want to double it, everyone will be scraping their bowls clean! YUMMY and much cheaper than buying the soup at Panera!
Panera Broccoli Cheese Soup
5 tbsp. butter, divided
1/2 medium chopped onion
1/4 cup flour
2 cups half and half (I used fat-free)
2 cups chicken broth
1/2 lb. fresh broccoli, washed, cut and most of stems cut off
1 cup carrots, julienned and cut into small strips
8 oz. block sharp or extra-sharp cheddar cheese, cut into small cubes (can use 2%)
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
Saute onion in 1 tbsp. butter until softened. Set aside. Melt 4 tbsp. butter in large stockpot and whisk in flour. Cook over medium heat for 3-5 minutes until slightly thickened, stirring or whisking constantly. Add half and half and chicken stock, stir well. Simmer for 20 minutes. Add the broccoli, carrots, and sauteed onions. Cook over low heat 20-45 minutes or until broccoli and carrots are softened. Add salt and pepper. Remove part of soup and puree in blender if desired (this gives it the exact consistency of the Panera soup but is not necessary). Return pureed soup to rest of soup in pot if pureed and add in cubes of cheese. Stir and cook on low heat until cheese is melted. Stir in nutmeg and serve. Makes 4 servings.