I pack 10 lunches each week (five for me, five for Andy). We usually take leftovers with some yogurt and fruit, or a PB&J sandwich with yogurt and fruit. It’s very rare for either of us to go out for lunch, and that’s OK with me. Brown-bagging it saves us a few dollars and a couple of calories. (Or so I tell myself… some days I’m not sure our leftovers fit into the “light” category – I’m looking at you, spinoccoli pizza!)
On the rare days that we do eat out for lunch, I am likely to pick one of two places, Chipotle or Panera Bread, and I almost always know exactly what I’m getting. At Panera, it’s broccoli cheddar soup. In a bread bowl. And sure, give me a baguette on the side. More carbs please. And nine times out of 10, I eat it all. Because I have no self-control. (Curious about my other “usual”? Carnitas fajita burrito bowl, with white rice and black beans, topped with corn salsa, hot red salsa, lettuce, cheese and sour cream. I’d add guac, but it’s almost $2 a serving. I can buy two avocados for that price!)
I like the soup too much to limit myself to only enjoying it at Panera though. I’ve made it before, and while it was all right, I wanted to give a different recipe a shot. This one was pretty tasty – so much so that I made sure that these leftovers went into my lunch. (What?! Andy took leftover pot roast that day, so he wasn’t TOO deprived…)
Broccoli Cheddar Soup
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil (I’m guestimating this amount; I just swirled some into the bottom of the pan.)
4 tablespoons butter
1 medium onion, diced
3 medium carrots, finely diced
4 cups chopped broccoli (I used mostly florets, but I did throw a few of the stem pieces in.)
3 cups chicken or veggie stock
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
4 tablespoons flour
2 cups milk (I used a combination of half and half and skim… it’s what I had on hand.)
2 cups freshly shredded cheddar cheese
pinch of red pepper flakes
salt and pepper to taste
In a large stock pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Stir in the onion and carrots and saute until tender, about 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in the broccoli and then add the stock and garlic powder. Bring to a simmer and cook until the broccoli is tender.
Meanwhile, in another pot, melt the butter over medium heat. Stir in the flour and cook, stirring constantly, until it is golden in color. Whisk in the milk and continue to whisk the mixture until it thickens. Remove from heat and whisk in the cheddar cheese. When the cheese has melted into the sauce, pour the sauce into the stock pot with the broccoli.
If desired, puree the soup with an immersion blender until desired consistency is reached. Add the red pepper flakes and season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve warm (bonus points if you dish this one out in a bread bowl).
Adapted from Annie’s Eats
Click HERE for a printable version!