You’ve come to the right place if you love Panera Bread Broccoli Cheddar Soup Recipe! Panera Bread’s delicious broccoli cheddar soup is surprisingly easy to recreate at home.
It’s arguably the best Panera Bread recipe we can copy.
What makes things even better is that Panera Bread’s broccoli cheddar soup recipe can be made in a crock pot. This makes making a hearty soup with very little fuss super easy.
Today, we will show you how to make a Panera Bread broccoli cheddar soup crock pot recipe that rivals the fast food chain.
We’ll show you exactly what you need and how to make it before answering some frequently asked questions.
This crock pot soup recipe is ideal for family dinners and dinner parties, so stick around if you want to make a soup your family and friends will love!
What Is Panera Bread Broccoli Cheddar Soup?
Panera Bread’s Broccoli Cheddar Soup is a creamy, rich soup that combines the hearty flavors of fresh broccoli florets and sharp cheddar cheese. Known for its comforting consistency, it’s a popular choice among patrons.
The blend of vegetables and cheese, complemented by subtle seasonings, offers a delightful balance that warms the soul. Revered for its mouthwatering taste and texture, it stands as one of the signature dishes of the Panera Bread menu, loved by many for its homestyle appeal.
History Of Panera Bread Broccoli Cheddar Soup
Panera Bread, known initially as St. Louis Bread Company, started in 1987 in Missouri. While its entire menu evolved, the Broccoli Cheddar Soup gained notable attention.
This soup quickly became a fan favorite and was introduced as a part of their expanding cafe-style offerings. Its delectable blend of creamy cheddar and fresh broccoli resonated with customers seeking comfort in a bowl.
Over the years, its popularity burgeoned, turning it into an iconic dish synonymous with the Panera Bread experience and a testament to the brand’s commitment to quality.
Interesting Facts About The Panera Bread Broccoli Cheddar Soup
- Fan Favorite: Panera Bread’s Broccoli Cheddar Soup consistently ranks as one of the top-selling items on its menu.
- Recipe’s Secret: Its unique flavor isn’t just from the cheese and broccoli but also from a dash of nutmeg and carrot nuances.
- Versatility in Serving: While traditionally served in a bowl, it’s also available in Panera’s famous bread bowl for an added treat.
- Vegetarian Friendly: Unlike some cheddar soups, it’s completely vegetarian, making it a popular choice for those abstaining from meat.
- Home Experience: Panera began selling take-home versions in grocery stores due to its popularity.
- Health Boost: Broccoli is packed with vitamins and offers indulgence and nourishment when combined with cheddar.
- Handcrafted: Each batch at Panera is made with care, ensuring consistency and quality in every serving.
What Makes The Panera Bread Broccoli Cheddar Soup Special?
So, why should you make this Panera Bread broccoli cheddar soup recipe over other copycat recipes? The answer to that question is another question. Why wouldn’t you make this Panera Bread cheddar crock pot soup copycat recipe?
Everything about this recipe is excellent. It’s straightforward to make, requires basic ingredients, can be served in several ways, and is delicious.
The vegetables and broth are beautifully slow-cooked to perfection before adding a cheesy and creamy mixture. Combining chicken broth, vegetables, and a rich, creamy, cheesy mixture is sublime.
Another reason you should make this recipe is that it’s quite healthy. This recipe is loaded with nutrient-rich vegetables and doesn’t contain too many calories.
You can serve this soup with a wide range of sides too.
|Butter||1 tbsp + ¼ cup|
|Yellow Onion||1 (diced)|
|Celery Ribs||2 to 3 (diced)|
|Carrots||2 to 3 (diced)|
|Broccoli Florets||4 cups|
|Chicken Broth||3 cups|
|Cheddar Cheese||1 block|
|Ground Pepper||To taste|
There are some useful things you should know about some of the ingredients that will help you make your copycat soup even more delicious.
If you want to make the best Panera Bread broccoli cheddar soup, we recommend taking these notes on board.
- We highly recommend using fresh broccoli to make our broccoli cheddar soup. While you can use frozen broccoli to make this soup, fresh broccoli works much better.
- Fresh broccoli offers a much more enjoyable flavor and a fantastic texture than frozen broccoli. We use the florets when making our soup, but you can also dice the stems and throw them in.
- When preparing carrots for this soup recipe, you should cut them into small matchstick-like pieces. This might take longer, but the results are much better.
- The carrots cook a lot quicker and have a more tender texture. Alternatively, you can dice or grate your carrots.
- The best type of cheese you can use to make this soup is cheddar. In particular, you should opt for a sharp cheddar as this will offer a richer and creamier flavor.
- We recommend using 8 ounces of sharp cheddar to make this soup which is one block. You can grate the cheese yourself or buy it pre-grated.
- The butter in our Panera Bread broccoli cheddar soup crock pot copycat recipe is used for two things.
- Firstly, it is used to saute the onions, and secondly, it’s used to make the creamy and cheesy mixture that gives our soup a richer flavor.
Can You Vary The Recipe With Other Ingredients?
- Keto: Replace flour with almond flour or xanthan gum. Use heavy cream instead of milk and opt for high-fat cheese.
- Paleo: Swap regular butter for ghee. Use almond milk and skip the flour, thickening with arrowroot powder instead.
- Gluten-Free: Substitute flour with a gluten-free flour blend or cornstarch for thickening.
- Whole30: Use ghee instead of butter, compliant almond milk, and skip the cheese. Ensure your chicken broth is Whole30 approved.
- Vegetarian: Use vegetable broth in place of chicken broth.
- Vegan: Omit the cheddar or use a vegan cheese substitute. Replace butter with a vegan spread and use plant-based milk, like almond or oat.
- Preparation: Grate the cheddar, dice the vegetables, and set up your crock pot.
- Sauté Onion: Melt butter in a pan, sauté onions, and transfer to a crock pot.
- Add Ingredients: Pour carrots, broccoli, celery, and chicken broth into the crock pot.
- Slow Cook: Cover and cook on low for 4 hours.
- Creamy Mixture: Prepare a creamy mixture of butter, flour, and broth, then whisk it into the soup.
- Thicken and Season: Combine cornstarch and water, and whisk into the soup with milk, cheddar, salt, and pepper. Cook on high for 60 minutes.
- Serve: Dish out the delicious soup and enjoy!
Variations, Add-Ons, And Toppings
You can make several variations to this recipe if you need or want to.
Below, we’ve listed some of the simple variations you could use to make our broccoli cheddar soup!
- If you don’t have chicken broth, use Better Than Bouillon Chicken Base mixed with water instead.
- If you follow a vegetarian diet, use vegetable broth or stock instead.
- You can also use dairy-free milk, cheddar, and butter to make this soup.
- Don’t be afraid to throw in any other vegetables left in your cupboards.
- You could add a dash of cayenne pepper to your soup for a spicy flavor.
- Proteins: Enhance heartiness by adding diced chicken, turkey, or tofu.
- Veggies: Boost nutritional value with additions like spinach, kale, or diced bell peppers.
- Crunch: Introduce croutons, toasted almond slivers, or even roasted chickpeas for a delightful crunch.
- Cheese: Top with additional grated cheddar, Parmesan, or feta for a varied cheese profile.
- Fresh Herbs: Chopped parsley, chives, or cilantro can impart a new contrast to the creamy base.
- Heat: A drizzle of hot sauce or a sprinkle of red chili flakes for those who desire a spicy kick.
- Creaminess: A dollop of sour cream or Greek yogurt can lend a tangy, creamy element.
Scaling The Recipe
- Ingredient Ratio: Always maintain the ratio between the main ingredients. If you double the broccoli, double the cheese and other components too.
- Liquid Adjustment: Ensure you have enough liquid to cover the ingredients for soups. When increasing volume, add proportionally more broth; vice versa for reducing.
- Seasoning: While scaling, start with a slightly less than proportional seasoning, then adjust to taste.
- Cooking Time: While the initial sauté time might remain constant, the simmering time can change with volume. Larger quantities might need longer to achieve desired consistency.
- Equipment Size: Ensure your cooking vessel can accommodate the adjusted quantity, preventing spillage or uneven cooking.
- Taste Test: As you scale, taste regularly, adjusting elements to achieve the desired flavor.
What Is Used For Garnishing?
- Cheese: A sprinkle of freshly grated cheddar or sharp aged cheese can enhance the richness.
- Fresh Herbs: Chopped chives, parsley, or cilantro add a vibrant color contrast and aromatic touch.
- Crunch: Crushed croutons or toasted breadcrumbs offer a delightful textural contrast.
- Oils: Chili or truffle oil drizzle can elevate the soup’s depth.
- Cream: Patterns made with heavy or sour cream swirls can add visual allure.
- Spices: A light sprinkle of paprika or black pepper can provide gentle heat and speckled beauty.
Can I Make Panera Bread Broccoli Cheddar Soup In A Slow Cooker Or Instant Pot?
- Follow the initial steps of sautéing onions and vegetables on the stovetop and then transfer them to the slow cooker.
- Add broth and cook on low for 4-6 hours. In the final hour, introduce the creamy roux mixture and cheese, allowing it to meld with the vegetables.
- Use the “Sauté” function for onions and vegetables. Add the broth and cook using the “Soup” setting.
- Once done, revert to “Sauté” mode to incorporate the roux and cheese, stirring until creamy.
Can I Use Store Bought Broth, Or Should I Make My Own?
- Convenience: Ideal for quick preparations, saving time.
- Standardized Taste: Offers a predictable flavor profile.
- Options: Comes in various types, like organic, low-sodium, and bone broth.
- Flavor: Customizable, enabling a richer and fresher taste tailored to your liking.
- No Additives: Free from preservatives or unwanted ingredients.
- Resourceful: A great way to utilize leftover bones and vegetable scraps.
Can I Use Different Types Of Meat/Fish/Pasta/Vegetables For The Soup?
- Chicken: Tender chunks or shredded chicken can be a great addition, making the soup heartier.
- Bacon: Crumbled bacon lends a smoky flavor that compliments the creamy texture.
- Ham: Diced ham can give a salty depth to the soup.
- Salmon: Flaked cooked salmon can add a unique twist and a dose of omega-3s.
- Shrimp: Adding pre-cooked shrimp towards the end ensures they remain tender.
- Tortellini: Cheese or meat-filled tortellini can make the soup even richer.
- Elbow Macaroni or Penne: These classic shapes absorb the soup well.
- Orzo: This rice-shaped pasta can provide a lovely texture contrast.
- Cauliflower: An alternative or addition to broccoli, it blends well with the creamy base.
- Spinach: Adds a pop of color and a slightly earthy taste.
- Potatoes: Diced or cubed potatoes can give the soup a rustic feel.
- Peas: Their sweet flavor and vibrant green color can be a delightful contrast.
- Bell Peppers: Diced peppers can offer a mild sweet-spicy touch.
Success Tips – Tips And Tricks For Making The Soup
Crafting the perfect soup requires a blend of preparation finesse and cooking insight:
- Uniformity: Dice vegetables consistently for even cooking.
- Fresh Ingredients: Use fresh herbs and produce for richer flavors.
- Broth: Opt for homemade for depth or high-quality store-bought for convenience.
Cooking Time Tips
- Slow Simmer: Avoid boiling; a gentle simmer extracts flavors without musing vegetables.
- Layering: Start with aromatics (e.g., onion, garlic) before adding the main ingredients.
- Taste: Regularly taste and adjust seasonings.
- Fat Integration: A dash of cream or butter at the end can enhance texture and flavor.
- Resting: Let the soup sit briefly after cooking; flavors meld and improve with a little time.
Dive into the nutritional profile of Panera’s Broccoli Cheddar Soup. This creamy delight not only pleases the palate but also offers essential vitamins and minerals. Know what you eat!
What Are The Total Calories In The Soup?
Panera bread broccoli cheddar soup is one of the most popular dishes. And you are worried about the calorie count of the recipe. In that case, an average serving of this recipe, with the mentioned ingredients, will get calories of approximately 300 to 400 per serving.
It may vary further based on the items you use and when you add them. So, it is better to use a calorie counter for an accurate calorie count.
Dietary Restrictions Of The Panera Bread Broccoli Cheddar Soup
- Dairy: Contains milk and cheese, which might not be suitable for lactose-intolerant or dairy-allergic individuals.
- Gluten: Traditional versions use flour as a thickening agent, making it unsuitable for those with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity.
- Meat Products: Using chicken broth means it’s not vegetarian or vegan.
- Sodium: Like many soups, it can be high in salt, which may not be ideal for those on sodium-restricted diets.
Health Benefits Of The Panera Bread Broccoli Cheddar Soup
- Broccoli: A powerhouse vegetable, broccoli is rich in vitamins C and K, fiber, and antioxidants.
- Carrots: Provide vitamin A and antioxidants suitable for vision and skin.
- Onion and Celery: Both are low in calories yet high in essential vitamins and minerals.
- Milk: A source of calcium and vitamin D, promoting bone health.
- Cheese: Contains protein and calcium, though it’s also calorie-dense.
How Can I Make Panera Bread Broccoli Cheddar Soup Lower In Sodium?
- Homemade Broth: Opt for a homemade chicken or vegetable broth, where you can control the salt content.
- Low-Sodium Broth: If using store-bought, choose a low-sodium version.
- Cheese: Some cheeses have higher salt content. Opt for reduced sodium cheddar.
- Limit Added Salt: Be cautious with added salt during cooking. Taste and adjust as you go.
- Spices & Herbs: Enhance flavor with fresh herbs and spices, which can distract from the reduced salt.
- Vegetables: Fresh vegetables add natural flavors without increasing sodium.
- Water: If the soup is too concentrated, add water to dilute the sodium content.
How Can I Make Panera Bread Broccoli Cheddar Soup Lower In Sugar?
- Broth Choice: Opt for unsweetened, low-sodium broths.
- Milk: Use unsweetened varieties of milk or milk alternatives.
- Fresh Ingredients: Utilize fresh vegetables that lack the added sugars in some canned versions.
- Limit Carrots: While nutritious, carrots add natural sugars; consider reducing the quantity.
- Avoid Sugar-Based Seasonings: Some seasonings or sauces might contain hidden sugars.
- Check Labels: If using store-bought ingredients, always read nutritional labels to avoid hidden sugars.
- Flavor Boosters: Rely on herbs and spices for flavor enhancement without sugar.
How To Serve The Panera Bread Broccoli Cheddar Soup At Its Best?
- Temperature: Ensure it’s steaming hot but not boiling. The perfect temperature brings out the flavors.
- Bowl Choice: Use a warm bowl to maintain the soup temperature. Pre-warm by rinsing with hot water.
- Garnish: Sprinkle a bit of shredded cheddar, a few finely chopped broccoli florets, or fresh parsley on top for color and texture.
- Accompaniment: Offer crusty bread or croutons for a delightful crunch.
- Consistency: Ensure the soup has a creamy, uniform texture. Stir well before serving.
- Pairing: Consider a light salad or sandwich to complement the rich soup.
- Setting: A cozy ambiance with dimmed lights and soft music enhances the soup-savoring experience.
Perfect Side Dishes To Complement Panera Bread Broccoli Cheddar Soup
One of the great things about this broccoli cheddar soup recipe is that you can serve it with various sides.
We’ve listed some of our favorite foods. We serve this broccoli cheddar soup recipe below!
- Fresh bread rolls
- Fresh baguette
- Caesar salad
- Garlic knots
- Grilled cheese roll-ups
- Cheesy garlic bread
How Long Can We Store The Soup?
- Refrigeration: Transfer the soup to an airtight container once cooled to room temperature. It can be stored in the refrigerator for 3-4 days.
- Freezing: For more extended storage, you can freeze the soup. Ensure it’s completely cooled, then place it in freezer-safe bags or containers, leaving some space for expansion. It can last up to 2-3 months.
Can I Make The Soup In Advance?
- Cool Properly: After cooking, allow the soup to reach room temperature.
- Store: Transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate.
- Reheat: Warm it on the stove over medium heat, stirring occasionally until hot.
- Duration: It’s best consumed within 3-4 days when refrigerated.
- Flavor Boost: Sometimes, a quick seasoning adjustment might be needed before serving to refresh the taste.
What Can We Do With Leftovers?
- Broccoli Pasta Sauce: Reduce until thickened and toss with pasta for a creamy dish.
- Casserole Base: Use as a flavorful base in casseroles, combined with rice, chicken, or other vegetables.
- Stuffed Baked Potato: Pour over a baked potato for a rich and hearty meal.
- Bread Bowl: Hollow out a bread loaf and pour the reheated soup into a delicious edible container.
- Risotto: Incorporate the soup into a risotto recipe for added flavor and creaminess.
- Pot Pie Filling: Topped with puff pastry or pie crust as a filling in pot pies.
- Soup Base: Add new ingredients like beans, lentils, or additional veggies to create a new soup variant.
- Gratin: Layer with sliced potatoes in a baking dish, top with cheese, and bake until bubbly.
Special Tools/Equipment Needed
- Heavy-bottomed Pot: For even heat distribution, preventing the soup from sticking or burning.
- Crock Pot/Slow Cooker: If you’re opting for the slow-cooked version of the recipe.
- Whisk: Essential for blending the butter and flour and ensuring a smooth consistency for the creamy mixture.
- Sharp Knife & Cutting Board: For dicing vegetables with precision.
- Cheese Grater: To grate the cheddar block for even melting.
- Measuring Cups & Spoons: For accurate ingredient portions.
- Blender/Immersion Blender: If you prefer a smoother texture, you can blend part or all of the soup.
- Ladle: For serving the soup neatly.
- Airtight Containers: Useful for storage, whether refrigerating or freezing.
As you can see from our recipe, it is effortless to make a Panera Bread copycat broccoli cheddar soup in a crock pot.
All you have to do is prepare the ingredients and throw them in your crock pot. Your crock pot will work hard for you while you get on with the rest of your day.
This delicious soup recipe is warming, comforting, loaded with healthy vegetables, rich and creamy flavors, and hearty. Perfect for family gatherings and winter dinners, you’ll make this soup repeatedly.
Now you have this recipe, why don’t you try it and see what you think?
Frequently Asked Questions
How Long Can You Store Broccoli Cheddar Soup?
Broccoli cheddar soup can be kept in a refrigerator for up to 5 days. Alternatively, it can be stored in a freezer for up to 3 months. After both periods, the soup should be eaten or thrown out as it will spoil soon after.
How Do You Store Soup?
The soup should always be stored in an airtight container. It should also always be kept in a refrigerator or freezer to stop it from expiring sooner.
How Should Soup Be Served?
The soup should be served hot and fresh in a warm bowl to prevent the soup from cooling down too quickly.
How Can I Make The Soup Spicier?
To add a kick, you can include a pinch of red pepper flakes, a dash of hot sauce, or even diced jalapeños during the cooking process.
Can I Use Other Cheeses Besides Cheddar?
Certainly! While cheddar is traditional, you can experiment with other cheeses like gouda, fontina, or pepper jack for different flavor profiles. Combining cheeses can also create a unique and delightful taste.
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