Thursday, March 15, 2012

"Skinny" Broccoli, Cheddar & Potato Soup

I'll be the first to admit that I absolutely LOVE the broccoli and cheddar soup from Panera Bread. Have you ever had it? I blame my sister for getting me addicted to this. Thanks Jess! As soon as one opened here in town, we stopped in for lunch and I have been addicted ever since. I think the first few weeks they were open, the people in there knew my name because I'd stop by on my way home after the gym and pick up a bowl. Then I told my parents about it and they were just as hooked as I was. I think they put crack in their soup. No, seriously. There is nothing like a warm bowl of that soup with a fresh piece of baguette to dunk in. My mouth just filled up with saliva. Whoa.

Their soup is amazing and one bowl and a piece of bread for dipping comes in at about 450 calories (not so bad if I decided to go to the gym that day) give or take, but I knew I couldn't eat this all the time. 

1. It's high is sodium 


2. There isn't as much broccoli as I would like

I searched high and low for lots of copycat recipes online and they all looked great, but some were crazy high in calories (I saw one as high as 700 calories for a cup - CRAZY!), only a little bit of broccoli and loads of cheese and cream. Let's just say it was like cheese soup. Not that cheese soup is bad, but I knew there had to be a way to make this loaded with broccoli and taste just as good. Finally, I found it. One of my favorite blogs, Gina's Skinny Recipes, had a recipe for a broccoli, cheddar and potato soup. Her site is great and even better, all of her recipes have calories and Weight Watcher points. I have tried several of her other recipes, so I am not sure why I didn't think to check her site earlier, but boy am I glad I did. This soup called for leaving it a little chunky, but I put the whole thing through the blender to make it creamy delicious and thick. That and I added one more head of broccoli then she called for. I told you I wanted more broccoli. I wanted to pack in as much as I could with still keeping true to the original flavor.

Oh and one tip for this soup - Gina's recipe called for adding in the milk early on. I did not do this. I tried out her chicken pot pie soup earlier in the week and let me just say, simmering and boiling milk is not a good thing. It curdled and looked gross. With this soup, I waited until the very end and then mixed it in. No curdling and no looking gross. Just great tasting soup that is warm, hearty and delicious. I brought over a sample to my parents and they even said this tasted pretty close to Panera's I don't know if they were just saying that, but it was pretty darn good. I wont lie. 1 1/4 cup serving is about 282 calories. Perfect for lunch or dinner. Shoot, you could even eat this for breakfast if you wanted. Why not!

Warning - there are lots of photos, but I promise, this soup is super easy to make!

I wish you could buy just one rib of celery.

Pretty veggies

cook veggies until tender, then add flour.

if you cut your potatoes early, make sure to soak them in water. If you don't they will turn brown and look gross.

cooking veggies and potatoes until tender

steamed brocc and cheeeeeeseeeee

add steamed brocc and parmi to cooked veggies and broth

blend until smooth - don't fill the blender too much and make sure to vent the lid a little. Otherwise you will have a soup explosion!

add cheese

stir in milk until smooth and creamy. I used unsweetened almond milk.

serve with cheese and pita chips!

Broccoli, Cheddar & Potato Soup (slightly adapted from

1 small onion, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp butter
2 tbsp flour
2 1/2 cups fat free chicken broth (or vegetable broth to make this vegetarian!)
1 cup milk (I used unsweetened almond milk, but use whatever you have in your fridge)
2 medium potatoes, peeled and diced small
salt and fresh pepper
6 cups (about 3 heads) broccoli florets, chopped into small pieces and steamed
1-1/2 cups 2% shredded sharp cheddar
2 slices 2% American cheese (you can omit this and just add an extra 1/2 cup of sharp cheddar instead)
1 tbsp parmesan cheese

Chop onion, carrot, celery, garlic in a chopper or mini food processor.

In a large soup pot, melt butter.  Add chopped vegetables and cook on low heat until soft, about 5 minutes. Add flour, salt and pepper to the pot and stir until smooth. Add chicken broth and potatoes and set heat to high until it comes to a boil, then cover and cook on low until potatoes are soft, about 10-15 minutes. Add steamed broccoli florets, parmesan cheese, and stir well. Adjust salt and pepper to taste. Cook uncovered until broccoli is cooked, about 5 minutes. Add cheddar and American cheese, stir well and remove from heat. Using a blender or immersion blender, blend the soup to desired consistency. Enjoy!

You can easily make this a vegetarian friendly dish by using veggie broth or stock! Also, this soup freezes well too. It made quite a bit for just one person, so I froze two individual servings in the freezer and they tasted just as good as when I made the soup. I can't wait to make this one again!

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