I always know when a recipe is a winner; my husband asks that the leftovers be refrigerated and not tossed out. A bowl of homemade soup is soothing and satisfying, especially in cold winter months. Before you say “yuk” to broccoli soup, try this recipe. The flavors of broccoli, cheese, onions and carrots blend together with a creamy texture to make a mellow and flavorful soup. This soup, which is adapted from a Panera Bread™ restaurant recipe, has become one of my favorite soup recipes. It is a good way to learn to like broccoli.
I have accumulated any number of recipes for broccoli soup and I am sure that they are all tasty. For some reason, I was attracted to this particular recipe. It claims to be a copycat recipe of the Panera Bread™ restaurant broccoli soup recipe. Unfortunately, I can no longer locate the original recipe or source on the internet. In the meantime, I have adapted the recipe and ingredients. Does my soup takes like the one from Panera’s? Try my recipe (which is excellent) and let me know.
Healthy Soup Recipe
The recipe includes four main ingredients — broccoli, carrots, onions and cheddar cheese –which make a pleasing combination. The broccoli is “tamed down” by the other ingredients in the soup to make a mild-flavored broccoli soup. (This soup is a good way to learn to like broccoli.)
This soup has some healthy benefits. The vegetables ingredients have alot of nutritional value. Broccoli and carrots are both loaded with vitamins and antioxidants. Onions are rich in antioxidants and flavonoids which may provide protection from heart disease and some forms of cancer. The cheese and milk in the recipe add calcium and protein. Plus, I used margarine and whole milk (rather than cream) to lower the saturated fat content. What more could a person want?
Here are the rest of the ingredients in the recipe. The recipe does involve making a “blond roux,” but you can do it. This is not difficult. The chicken broth adds flavor and the milk adds the “cream” without all the fat and calories. Add a little black pepper for “zing.” You really don’t need additional salt as the chicken broth, even though reduced in sodium, still has plenty.
Making the Recipe
To make the recipe, cook the broccoli pieces and stems until tender. For convenience, I used frozen broccoli rather than fresh broccoli. Meanwhile, sauté the onions and carrots in margarine in a large, heavy pot until tender.
Next make a Roux
Here is the difficult part of the recipe — making a “roux.” What is a roux? A roux is flour and oil or margarine which are cooked by stirring these two ingredients together a pot on the stove. (And I mean stirring constantly. If you stop stirring, the flour will clump and burn. This isn’t good.) As the roux cooks, the flour expands, thus thickening and flavoring the mixture. In a “Cajun Roux”, these two ingredients are cooked until the flour becomes dark brown. In a “blond roux” the flour is cooked only briefly and the mixture is still light — the color of the flour.
For this recipe we are making a “blond roux.” The margarine is already in the pot (used for sautéing the onions and carrots). Now add flour, stirring constantly to avoid lumps. Stir for a minute to cook the flour. Remove the pot off the stove. Gradually stream in just a bit of the milk. The flour will continue to thicken, so stir quickly and constantly. Add more milk until all the flour is smooth and blended with the milk. Pour in the rest of the milk and the chicken broth.
Return to the stove and add the cooked, drained broccoli. Stir and cook until the soup comes to a boil. Then reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes.
Once again, remove the pot from the stove. Transfer the soup in a food processor, in batches, and puree the soup until smooth (or use an immersion blender). Return to the stove, add in the cheese and heat.
You are ready to serve the soup!
It takes just a little effort and a time to make the soup. But this homemade soup is well worth the effort. I am proud of this recipe — adapted from something, somewhere. It is flavorful and healthy — and won’t go to waste. Enjoy.
But it’s green! Yes, green and good for you. Love it!
Creamy Broccoli & Cheddar Cheese Soup
- 1 lb bag frozen, chopped broccoli pieces and stems
- 3 Tbsp margarine
- 1 cup finely chopped sweet Vidalia onion or white onion, (about 1 medium-sized onion)
- 1 cup diced carrots (about 2 to 3 medium-sized carrots)
- 3 Tbsp all purpose flour
- 2 cups whole milk (or low-fat or skim milk)
- 1 (14.5 oz can) Swanson’s 33% less sodium chicken broth
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- 2 cups grated medium cheddar cheese
Method and Steps:
- Add frozen broccoli to microwavable-proof container. Add a small amount of water and loosely cover. Microwave for 10 minutes on high setting of microwave until broccoli is cooked. Remove from microwave and drain off any excess water. Alternately, add broccoli to a small pot, add water to about 1/2 inch and steam on medium heat of stove for 10 minutes until cooked. Remove from stove and drain. Set aside.
- Heat margarine in a large, heavy pot or Dutch oven over medium heat.
- Add chopped onion and diced carrots. Stir and reduce heat to medium low. Partially cover with a lid and cook for 10 minutes until union is translucent and carrots are soft. Stir occasionally, Do not let burn, turn heat down.
- Add all-purpose flour and stir for 1 minute to make a “blonde roux.” Stir constantly.
- Remove pot from heat. Gradually stir in 1/2 cup of the milk, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon to break up any clumps of flour. The mixture will thicken and clump if you stop stirring. When this milk is stirred in, gradually stream in the remainder of the milk.
- Then stir in the chicken broth and add the black pepper.
- Add cooked, drained broccoli stems and pieces. Return to stove. Bring to boil, stirring constantly, then turn heat to low. Let simmer for 5 minutes.
- Remove pot from stove. If using immersion blender, blend the soup in the pot until it is mostly smooth. Alternately, in batches, transfer soup to blender and blend until smooth. Return soup from blender back into pot.
- Return to stove. On low heat, add the cheddar cheese and stir for a minute or two until cheese is melted and the soup is heated.
- Remove from stove and ladle into soup bowls.
- Serve with croutons or toasted French bread, optional.
- Leftovers may be refrigerated.