It’s amazing! I actually found this week’s Tasty Tuesday Recipe someplace other than Pinterest! I found it in an old issue of Food Network Magazine (Jan./Feb. 2010). What on earth was I doing going through old magazines? Well, as you know, we just recently moved and I’m in the middle of setting up our new house. I’m currently working on the Craft Room/Office and that’s where I keep all of my supplies and reference materials. (I should really look for bookcase ideas on Pinterest…) Ahh, but I digress, I have a huge pile of old magazines that I’ve been meaning to go through and clip some idea, recipe, or article out of, and now seemed like the right time to actually complete that project. It was quite successful. I went from a 4 foot stack of magazines (that’s 4 boxes if anyone’s wondering) to a much more manageable 6 inch pile of clippings. Next step is to put away the clippings, but that can wait until the rest of the room is set up. What was I talking about? Oh, yeah where I found this week’s recipe… It was in that pile of clippings that Gwen say the recipe and asked me to make it… So this week I made a homemade version of Panera‘s Broccoli-Cheese Soup!
This recipe did require a bit of shopping, but not much. I gathered my ingredients: 6 tablespoons of unsalted butter, 1 small onion, 1/4 cup flour, 2 cups half-and-half, 3 cups chicken broth, 2 bay leaves ( I left these out), 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg (I use a microplane and a whole nut, but you can substitute dried), 4 cups of fresh broccoli florets, a handful of baby carrots, 4 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese (the recipe only calls for 2 1/2 cups, but I added a bunch more), salt and pepper.
Start by making a roue. To do this melt the butter in your soup pot, then add the onions and soften them. Next whisk in the flour. Once that’s combined completely (it looks almost like a paste) gradually whisk in the half-and-half until everything smooths out and it looks silky.
Once the cream sauce (I think that’s what constitutes a Bechamel sauce) is smooth and well combined, add in the chicken broth, nutmeg, bay leaves, salt & pepper. Let it come up to temperature and then reduce the heat to medium-low and cook for about 20 minutes or until it’s really thick and creamy.
After the base is ready, it’s time to add the veggies. While you are letting the soup thicken, cut up the broccoli and carrots, so that they can just go right in the pot when it’s time. Add them to the pot and let them simmer for about 20 minutes or until they are tender.
After the broccoli is nice and soft comes the fun part. You get to blend the soup. There are several ways to do this, but I love my immersion blender and look for any reason to use it. You could also take the soup out of the pot and run it through a food processor or the blender.
Once the broccoli is pretty well smoothed out (no large chunks, just those yummy green floaties), it’s time to melt in the cheese! (oh, on a side not, next time I’m going to reserve a couple of pieces of the softened broccoli to add back in, so that they are in the finished soup.) Add in the cheese, whisking to melt it completely over medium heat. The recipe says you can add up to 3/4 cup of water if it’s too thick, but I didn’t have that issue.
Time to serve! I ladled it into a regular sized soup bowl and had enough for 5 servings. I also garnished it with some shredded cheese and served it with a crusty baguette on the side.