Active Prep: 15 min. Inactive Prep: 1 hr.
Difficulty: Easy Yield: 6 servings

The most popular soup at Panera Bread deserves a proper clone recipe and this re-hack is a huge improvement over my previous version. The first time around I used Kraft Cheddar Cheese Singles to ensure that the soup was smooth and creamy. The soup was good, but perhaps not as deliciously cheesy as the original. So this time around we’ll make a cheese sauce the proper way with a roux, adding half-and-half to it along with the chicken broth, then whisking in the cheese until it’s melted smoothly into the soup—without any graininess. The veggies are added to the soup last. When the broccoli is tender, after about 40 minutes, your soup is done. Faster, easier, cheesier, better.

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2½ tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup half-and-half
3 cups chicken broth
12 ounces (6 cups) shredded mild cheddar cheese
8 ounces (3 cups) finely chopped broccoli
½ cup shredded carrot
½ cup diced white onion

  1. Heat the butter in a 2½-quart saucepan over medium/low heat until melted. Whisk in the flour. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes or until the flour begins to turn light brown.
  2. Whisk the half-and-half into the flour. Stir until the flour is dissolved with no visible lumps. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes or until the half-and-half begins to bubble around the edge of the pan. Pour the chicken broth into the pan, stir well, and cook for 5 minutes or until the liquid begins to bubble around the edge of the pan. Whisk in the cheese. Continue to whisk thoroughly until the cheese is completely dissolved into the liquid. Cook the soup on a low simmer for 10 minutes. The soup should bubble only a little; do not allow it to reach a rapid boil. Stir often. 
  3. Stir in the broccoli, carrot, and onion. Continue to simmer the soup on medium/low for 40 to 45 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the broccoli is tender 

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