Monday, January 2, 2012

Starting January With Soup:Broccoli Cheese Soup

January is "National Soup Month" and I often start programs off with a soup themed program, but at my house soup is a favorite year round.  If you look under the soup category here you'll find recipes for French Onion soup, for Chicken Corn Chowder and for Bean Soup and I still have others to post.

Often when traveling we find ourselves stopping at the Panera restaurant chain. They are all over the Mid Atlantic and the food is excellent and inexpensive. And one of our favorite things to order there is a broccoli cheese soup.
My family agrees that tonight's soup is very similar to what we order at Panera, but I suspect it just might be healthier. Copycat recipes I've found for it call for half and half and for full fat cheddar cheese. This recipe--originally posted on uses processed cheese and milk, but in making it this way I realized I didn't have to add milk OR half and half!  Just processing the soup base gave it body and flavor, and cornstarch/water blend thickened it to where we wanted it.  I also cut the chicken stock called for in half and added some grated carrot as Panera does.

Everyone ate this tonight along with a homemade baguette. And  I know they liked it, because SC asked to have it for lunch tomorrow!

Broccoli Cheese Soup

1 cup chopped onion (frozen is fine)
2 Tbs butter or oil (if using fresh onion, you may want to double this)

In a 4 qt or larger pot, cook the onions in the butter/oil until they become transparent.
If using frozen onions, the water will help cook them. Make sure most of the liquid is gone before continuing.
24 oz frozen chopped broccoli or broccoli cuts
grated carrot (I used about 4 baby carrots for this)
1 qt chicken stock or bouillon

Simmer until the broccoli is tender.
Process the broccoli and some of the liquid in a food processor/blender or with an immersion blender.
I do small amounts at a time. You can make this as smooth or as chunky as you like.

Stir in:
1 pound cubed processed cheese (Velveeta type)
If you are anti-Velveeta you could use grated cheddar, but stir well as it's harder to melt in smoothly!

Keep stirring over low heat as you add in, a little at a time:
1/4- 1/2 cup cornstarch combined with an equal amount of water (mix in a cup or shake in a jar)

Add as much or as little cornstarch as you like. The more you add, of course, the thicker the soup will be.

You can season this with a little nutmeg as Panera does but it's delicious just as it is!

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