I also love the real thing, though -- like Panera's delicious broccoli-cheddar soup. When I got this month's issue of Food Network Magazine and saw a copycat recipe for their soup, I knew I had to give it a shot. Last night seemed like the perfect opportunity, since Joe has a "man cold" and was whining for soup. I apologize to any male readers for what I'm about to say, but men? They are such big babies when they're sick.
Regardless, I'm so glad I made this soup, man cold or not, because we absolutely loved it. It's thick, rich, flavorful and creamy. I didn't go to the trouble of making bread bowls, but I did top our servings with croutons, which added a nice crunch and an extra dimension of flavor. The best parts about this meal, though? The newborn slept the whole time I was making it and we were eating it, and the toddler absolutely loved it:
He ate two bowls. It was probably because of all the cheese, but anytime I can get some broccoli in him I'm happy.
source: Food Network Magazine, January/February 2010
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 small onion, chopped
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
Salt and pepper to taste
4 cups broccoli florets
1 large carrot, diced
2 1/2 cups (about 8 ounces) grated sharp white and yellow cheddar cheese, plus more for garnish
1. Melt the butter in a large Dutch oven or pot over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Whisk in the flour and cook until golden, 3 to 4 minutes, then gradually whisk in the half-and-half until smooth. Add the chicken broth, bay leaves and nutmeg, then season with salt and pepper and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, uncovered, until thickened, about 20 minutes.
2. Add the broccoli and carrot to the broth mixture and simmer until tender, about 20 minutes. Discard the bay leaves. Puree the soup in batches in a blender until smooth. Return to the pot. (Or puree the soup in the pot with an immersion blender.)
3. Add the cheese to the soup and whisk over medium heat until melted. Add up to 3/4 cup water if the soup is too thick. Ladle into bowls and garnish with cheese.