What You Should Know Before Ordering Soup From Panera

Although Panera Bread, as its name implies, started off as a bakery and still sells a variety of fresh-baked goods, the chain is now more of a breakfast/lunch cafe and is as well known for its soups as its sandwiches. Of course, if you want to combine the experience and have what is basically a "soupwich," you can always order Panera's signature item of soup served in a bread bowl.

Panera's soups are pretty tasty, and a decent value as well as a not too unhealthy indulgence — under $7 a bowl and just 100 to 360 calories per serving, according to Panera Bread's menu. Still, there are a few things about these soups that may surprise you — starting with the not-so-secret fact that they are frozen, not fresh.

Why Panera freezes their soup

Several Redditors who used to work at Panera spilled the beans — and the other veggies — on the chain's soups, admitting that they are all cooked at a processing plant and then frozen into blocks before being shipped out to the different locations. The soup is thawed in something called a thermalizer, which is basically "a fridge-like box of really hot water," and the bags are then opened once the soup is added to the service line (via So Yummy).

The reason Panera preps its soups centrally and sends them out as soupsicles can be summed up in one word: consistency. If the soup were made in-house, a Redditor explains, "one store might have significantly better soup," and the flip side — another store being known for its bad soup — is something Panera surely wishes to avoid.

The best time of day to order Panera's soup

Panera Bread as a company is not about wasting food. Any soup that is not sold by store closing will be bagged up and stored in the cooler to be re-sold the next day. If you'd prefer to be served fresh (or at least freshly thawed) soup, your best bet is to order soup after noon.

If, however, you really want a bread bowl, then earlier is better. The bread bowls are baked just once per day, and once they're gone, they're gone. Still, should you order after noon and before about 4 p.m., you'll stand a decent chance of getting today's soup in a bread bowl.

How you can influence Panera's soup menu

The soups offered by Panera, while they all come from the same limited menu (and processing plant), will vary from store to store as to which ones are offered on any given day. Employees indicate that the soup menu is influenced by customer demand, with one revealing on Reddit, "My store has potato soup every single day because of how many people requested it." If you like a certain soup, just keep on ordering it — and if you don't see it on the menu, speak up! The squeaky mouse gets the cheese, after all.

Speaking of cheese, if it's Panera's Broccoli Cheddar Soup you're craving, we've got a copycat recipe you're going to love. Now you can enjoy this classic even when you can't make it to Panera and don't want to deal with those Uber Eats fees or run the risk of your delivery order coming up short a crouton or two.