How To Ensure A Thick Copycat Panera Broccoli Cheddar Soup

If ever there was a king of comfort food, the one to wear the crown would have to be a creamy bowl of soup. One of the most popular Panera menu items is the savory broccoli cheddar soup that warms you from the inside out and can be scooped up with a toasty baguette. After experiencing the thick, smooth cheese sauce this dish is known for, it's easy to spot the flaws in other soups with thinner, watery bases. Fans of Panera's soups who hope to recreate this fan-favorite soup at home are in luck. Mashed recipe developer Lindsay Mattison has discovered the secret to getting that consistency perfect in her copycat Panera broccoli cheddar soup recipe.

When done right, a roux can give you that thickened, luscious texture characteristic of Panera's broccoli cheddar soup. When making this French-style sauce, Mattison notes that she likes to use a spatula instead of a whisk to easily reach all parts of the pan. After adding butter, stirring constantly is the key to not burning the roux. It should thicken up nicely and smell slightly nutty once done. However, if you're not keen on making a roux for your broccoli cheddar soup, you can mix in cornstarch.

Create a cornstarch slurry with equal parts water

If you need a convenient alternative to thicken your soups and broths, cornstarch is the pantry staple that can save the day. For Lindsay Mattison's Panera-style broccoli and cheddar soup recipe, she advises using a tablespoon of cornstarch for every cup of liquid. To avoid pesky lumps, create a paste by mixing equal parts water and cornstarch and pouring it into your soup at the very end to simmer. Although a buttery roux is a more flavorful choice, the cornstarch slurry method is a great thickening agent in a pinch.

Still, there are a few ingredients you won't want to skip or substitute if your goal is to get as close to Panera's rich, creamy soup texture as possible. It would be challenging to turn this broccoli and cheddar soup into a dairy-free or gluten-free version because of how the milk and flour enhance the dish. Without flour, the oils in the soup may separate with nothing to absorb the liquid. Mattison says it's possible to use half-and-half instead of milk, but you risk of having the fats and oils separate. Simply follow the recipe, and you'll be that much closer to dining in whenever the broccoli and cheddar soup craving hits, and you'll save money, too.