Broccoli Cheddar Soup

It’s winter in Illinois. That should surprise no one.

That it has been a cold January should also surprise no one.

What do I like to eat when it’s cold out? Well, I like stews, braises and soups.  My wife is fond of Panera’s Broccoli Cheddar soup. So, as I am want to do, I try to recreate these things at home, because even though I am well employed, I’m also going back to school and, as everyone knows, going to school is expensive.

I’ve made this soup three or four times this year, and it has always had the same problem… Not cheesy enough.  So, each time I amp up the cheese. This last batch is pretty close. I should probably have it next time. It’s a tasty, filling soup that goes well with winter nights.

Broccoli Cheddar Soup

2 medium or 1 large yellow onion, diced
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
1/2 cup flour
6 cups chicken  broth (ovo-lacto vegetarians can use vegetable broth)
2 cups whole milk
2 cups heavy cream
2 bay leaves
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
8 cups broccoli florets
2 large carrots, finely diced
24 oz shredded extra sharp yellow cheddar cheese
6 oz shredded gruyere
2 tbsp salt
pepper to taste

Over medium heat:
Melt the butter and sautee onions until soft, 6-8 minutes.
Add garlic and sautee for about 60 seconds, until the garlic starts to smell nutty.
Sprinkle the flour over the pan and stir to form a roux.  Cook until golden.
Pour in chicken/vegetable stock and whisk until the roux is dissolved. Add milk, cream, bay leaves, salt, pepper, and nutmeg,  and simmer until thickened, stirring regularly. When thickened, the liquid will coat the back of a wooden spoon.
add broccoli and carrots, and simmer until the vegetables are tender.
remove the bay leaves.
Add the cheeses, one handful at a time, stirring until the cheese is completely melted. Once all the cheese is melted, taste, and correct seasoning.
You can, if you wish, run a stick blender through the soup to puree some or all of the broccoli. I don’t. My wife thinks it pushes the broccoli flavor too forward in the soup. And, well, Panera’s soup doesn’t have the broccoli pureed;).

Makes about 8 servings.

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