I stumbled upon a recipe on Yammie's Noshery for a copycat version of Panera Bread's cheesy broccoli soup. Their soup has always been my favorite there, so I was overly thrilled to try an at-home version. However, I wanted to incorporate some cauliflower into the soup, so I thought what the heck ... let's do this! I replaced half of the broccoli called for in the recipe with cauliflower - simple as that. Go ahead and use all broccoli here, friends, if you'd like. After all, it is your soup!
The recipe did call for half-and-half, but since I didn't have any, I used whole milk. It worked perfectly and saved me a few calories. (Who am I kidding? This soup has butter, whole milk and lots of cheese ... I wasn't really thinking about calories!)
I had my littlest one, Ayvah, home sick from school today. She was so sad to be missing first grade gym class today, but her poor little tummy had been yucky for a couple of days. She and I spent the morning curled up watching Christmas cartoons. When she was up and feeling a little better this afternoon, she wanted to get out her coloring books. So, I got busy in the kitchen whipping up a batch of this soup and getting some bread rising for bread bowls. Since dinner was still a couple of hours away, I transferred the prepared soup to my slow cooker and kept it on the warm setting. I was so proud of myself - it was only three o'clock and I had dinner done, blog photos of the soup taken and everything cleaned up! Score one for mom.
What I love most about this soup is that it, literally, takes all of thirty minutes from start-to-finish to make. I was blown away at how easy and quick this recipe is ... and, yes, it did not disappoint. Sometimes something that claims to be a copycat recipe really doesn't turn out to taste much like the dish it's supposed to be copying. This one tasted just like Panera Bread's broccoli soup (just with a little cauliflower thrown in). The only thing I will do differently next time (and there WILL be a next time) is make a double batch!
P.S. This is gluten-free, so share the recipe with your friends who cannot have gluten!
Yields 4 servings.
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
1 small onion, peeled and minced
2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
1 carrot, peeled and finely diced
2 cups whole milk (or half and half)
3 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup corn starch
1/4 teaspoon freshly-grated nutmeg
2 bay leaves
4 cups fresh broccoli florets (I used 2 cups broccoli and 2 cups cauliflower)
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
Salt and pepper, to taste
Melt butter in a soup pot over medium-low heat. Cook onion, garlic and carrot until slightly softened. Add in the milk and chicken stock. Mix together the corn starch with a little water in order to form a pourable paste. Whisk into the soup. Add in the nutmeg and bay leaves. Increase heat to medium. Allow soup to simmer and thicken a bit.
Add in the broccoli and cauliflower. Cook until they are just tender. Remove bay leaves. Mash about half of the soup with a potato masher - leaving some of the broccoli and cauliflower in larger pieces.
Add in the cheese - a handful at a time - stirring until melted. Season with salt and pepper as needed.
Serve with a little more shredded cheese on top if desired. Perfect served in homemade bread bowls.