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There are many, many things I love about working from home … but I admit, there are a few things (just a few!) that I miss about going into an office every day. There are days I miss talking with colleagues about things in the news or running an idea by someone else. I miss the oh-my-God-you-won’t-believe-what-the-hell-she-did-now! dramatics.
And, I miss lunch.
I miss going out for lunch and I miss the “hey, I’m chained to my desk today … would you mind bringing me back some lunch?” Lunch is usually leftovers at my kitchen table with a book (I’m not complaining about that) but some days, especially on cold winter days like the ones we’ve been experiencing, I wouldn’t mind someone bringing me back some soup from, say, Panera.
Ah, the soups from Panera. We don’t have a Panera in close proximity enough for me to go there even occasionally for lunch.
Sigh. So, the other night I was making fish sandwiches for dinner and I wanted a soup to accompany it. I had two small heads of broccoli that were getting close to their prime, and since The Husband didn’t care for my most recent broccoli-related soup (that would be Slow Cooked Broccoli Soup with Garlic and Olive Oil, as found in Not Your Mother’s Slow Cooker Cookbook by Beth Hensperger), I needed something else.
All of a sudden I was craving Broccoli Cheese Soup. And as I was persuing some blogs in my reader, one of my favorite foodie blogs, Lynn’s Kitchen Adventures, just so happened to have a post about recreating Panera Bread’s tomato soup … and a link to one of Lynn’s other Panera recreations, their broccoli cheese soup! (You should really check Lynn’s blog out. After you make this soup.)
I made this for dinner and it was an instant hit (except with Betty, who does not like soup). The Husband, myself, and Boo loved this. I made it exactly as Lynn instructed, without the bacon. I used vegetarian chicken broth and 2% milk.
My version of Panera Bread Broccoli Cheddar Soup (from Lynn’s Kitchen Adventures)
5 cups broccoli florets (if you have a little more or a little less that is fine)
6 cups chicken broth
1 1/2 cups milk or 1/2 & 1/2 (1/2 & 1/2 does taste better but I usually use milk)
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons flour
2 – 3 cups grated cheddar cheese
bacon, cooked and chopped (optional)
Steam broccoli until tender, about six minutes. Chop finely. I do mine in the food processor because we like it really chopped up and it is quicker. Set aside. In a large saucepan combine broth and milk. Slowly whisk in flour. Cook over med to med high heat stirring. Cook until it starts to thicken but not too thick. I usually do it until it just starts to boil. Add chopped broccoli. Reduce heat to med low. Continue to cook about 5 minutes. Add cheese stir until cheese melts. Serve. If using bacon sprinkle each bowl with a little.
This is a great way to use up broccoli that is not at it’s peak but you do not want to throw it out.
I’m telling you, this was beyond awesome. Dare I say, I think this is even better than Panera’s soup, if you can imagine such. As Lynn writes, it is certainly cheaper. It was exactly the perfect soup for a cold winter’s night.
And yes, I did have the leftovers for lunch the next day while reading a book at my kitchen table. *
* If you refrigerate this for the next day, be forewarned that this will thicken considerably … and it is already a very thick soup. This was not appealing to The Husband, who took a container for lunch and promptly threw it out. For me, I just added a little water (about 2 tbsps or so) before stirring and microwaving for a minute or so, and it was just as delicious as it was the night before. The kids had a snow day, and even Boo ate some for lunch too.