Broccoli Cheddar Soup - inspired by Panera and lots of Googling.
Makes 4 hearty portions
12 ounces broccoli florets - about 4 cups
2 medium carrots grated - about 1.5 cups
1 medium onion chopped fine - about 2 cups
2 small potatoes chopped - about 2 cups (potato is totally optional)
2 garlic cloves chopped - about 1 tablespoon
6 ounces grated cheddar cheese - about 1.5 cups
4 tablespoons butter - divided
1/4 cup flour
2.5 cups milk - I use whole milk
2.5 cups chicken broth
Salt and Pepper
In a large, high sided pan melt 2 tablespoons of butter and add onion, garlic, carrots and potatoes. Cook until onions are becoming translucent and veggies are beginning to soften, about 5 minutes.
Add remaining 2 tablespoons of butter and melt onto veggies. Sprinkle in the flour and stir to coat veggies. This will make a sort of roux that will thicken the soup since we are using milk, not heavy cream. Cook for about 2 more minutes.
In a small pan, heat the milk and broth until warm - do not boil. Add the warmed milk to the veggies and stir to combine, make sure to scrape the bottom of the pan to incorporate all of the sort-of-roux.
Add in the broccoli and gently simmer the soup for about 10 minutes or until the veggies are tender, but keeping their shape and texture. Make sure not to boil - the soup will thicken slowly.
Add in the cheese and cook on low for 5 more minutes. The cheese will further thicken the soup. Season with salt and pepper.
A few things about this recipe...
I've used an immersion blender to partially puree this soup - it's just as good and still looks pretty!
Because we are using milk, it's really important not to overheat this soup. It will separate. Just heat gently and slowly. The veggies will cook and soften in no time. Promise.
The potatoes are totally optional, but especially good if you use an immersion blender, they really make this soup nice and thick.