Even before I baked ham the other day, I already had plans for the leftovers! I wanted to make ham and potato soup, but he had a different craving. M loves Panera Bread broccoli cheese soup – I like it too. That’s not the problem…when I have a plan, I’m not immediately flexible to accommodate different ideas! He doesn’t really like my version because it’s not as thick as Panera’s – but I have a feeling they accomplish this by adding processed cheese. After deciding to go ahead with his plan, I quickly looked for a recipe that called for the stuff, but I couldn’t find one. I was in the parking lot of the grocery store, using my slow phone and didn’t have a whole lot of time. This recipe makes a small batch of thick, rich soup – all that half and half kept the base nice and creamy. I usually double my go-to recipe and use whatever milk I have, so it’s much thinner.
Verdict: Okay…this recipe is better than the other one. It’s rich and creamy, thanks to all that half and half! Also, the addition of diced ham (from a new recipe I’ll share soon) was a tasty, meaty and a perfect complement. Everyone loved it and the rolls I paired with it. Thanks for reading, enjoy!
Saute onion in butter. Set aside. Cook melted butter and flour using a whisk over medium heat for 3-5 minutes. Stir constantly and slowly add the half-and-half (this is called making a roux). Add the chicken stock whisking all the time. Simmer for 20 minutes.
Add the broccoli, carrots and onions. Cook over low heat until the veggies are tender for 20-25 minutes. Add salt and pepper. The soup should be thickened by now. Pour in batches into blender and puree. Return to pot over low heat and add the grated cheese; stir until well blended. Stir in the nutmeg and serve.
This is so rich and creamy! The kids loved the mild flavor of the cheeses and already mentioned wanting to eat the leftovers. Hopefully my picky husband will appreciate it – he’s hard to please when it comes to new macaroni and cheese recipes. His absolute favorite is this one, and no otherrecipe I have tried can hold a candle to it in his opinion!
His verdict: 7 out of 10! I’ll take it – besides, he ate two bowls and happily brought some to work the next day. Thanks for reading, enjoy!
Panera’s Stove Top Mac and Cheese – adapted from Annie’s Eats via Panera Bread
16 oz shell pasta
4 tbsp unsalted butter
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
2 1/2 cups milk, heavy cream, or half-and-half
4 oz white American cheese, chopped or torn into pieces
8 oz extra sharp white Vermont cheddar, shredded
2 tsp – 1 tbsp Dijon mustard (adjust according to your tastes)
1 tsp Kosher salt
1/4 tsp hot sauce (like Frank’s)
1. In a large stockpot, cook pasta according to package directions. Drain well.
2. While the pasta cooks, melt the butter in a 4-quart sauce pan over medium heat. When the butter has melted and has started to bubble, whisk in the flour; cook for 1 1/2 minutes whisking constantly. Gradually whisk in the milk until no lumps remain. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook milk mixture, whisking frequently, until it thickens and bubbles, about 8 minutes.
3. Remove sauce pan from the heat and by the handful, stir in the cheeses allowing all of the cheese to melt into the sauce before adding more. Stir in the mustard, salt, and hot sauce. Return the sauce pan to the heat and stir in the pasta. Be sure to stir up the sauce from the bottom of the sauce pan and thoroughly coat all of the pasta with sauce. Cook for 1-2 minutes over medium-low heat until heated through. Serve hot in bowls with spoons.