I know, second soup of the week. What can I say, I'm a little bit obsessed with soup right now :) It's just that time of year I guess, so hopefully you're not sick of the soup ideas. But if so, just bear with me, something indulgent and chocolatey is coming tomorrow!
If you've ever been to Panera, you've probably had their broccoli cheddar soup. I suspect it's probably one of their most popular menu items. And for good reason, it's delicious! This winter I really wanted to try a homemade version, one that didn't require me to change out of my pjs and drive 15 minutes to stand in line for. There are quite a few variations floating around the web, and I don't have any particular reason that I chose this one over the others, but I'm glad I did. It's become one of my favorite lunch options (no way is Shane touching this soup so it's out for dinner) and reheats really well so one batch will feed me for quite a few days. While most people are content to eat bread or rolls with their soup, I've developed a really bad habit of dipping potato chips in this one. Working hard to break myself of that...
I've made this broccoli cheddar soup on several occasions, and finally remembered to get some photos the most recent time so I could share it. A couple notes - first, don't use pre-shredded cheese. It just won't melt as well and you'll probably be disappointed. (I probably should have mentioned that when I posted the cheddar ale soup too.) Also, the recipe calls for pureeing the soup here, and as you can probably see, I like mine pretty smooth, but you could definitely keep it chunkier if that's your preference. The flavor is pretty close to the cafe version, and this alternative is definitely cheaper too. Gotta love that :)
Broccoli Cheddar Soup
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 small onion, diced
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups half-and-half
3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
2 bay leaves
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
4 cups broccoli florets
1 large carrot, diced
8 oz (about 2 1/2 cups) grated sharp cheddar cheese
Add the butter to a large saucepan or Dutch oven set over medium heat. Once melted, add the onion and cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Add the flour to the pan and cook for 3-4 minutes (or until golden), whisking frequently. Gradually add the half-and-half, whisking constantly - the mixture may look lumpy at first, but it will smooth out. Stir in the chicken broth, bay leaves and nutmeg. Season to taste with salt and pepper then bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, uncovered, until thickened, about 20 minutes.
Add the broccoli and carrot to the soup and continue simmering until the veggies are tender, about 20 minutes. Discard the bay leaves. Turn off the heat under the pot and puree the soup with an immersion blender (or, if you don't have one, in a traditional blender - you'll probably want to do it in a few batches.)
Set the pot over medium-low heat and gradually add the cheese to the soup, whisking constantly to melt and incorporate. Adjust the seasoning to taste then serve.