Panera's New Menu Items Are Inspired By Asian Comfort Foods

You can picture it now: When you walk through the doors of bakery-cafe chain Panera Bread, you are immediately met with the fragrant aroma of freshly baked bread. What started out as just a few shops in Missouri, per Mental Floss, has transformed into fast-casual giant with over 2,100 locations across the country (via Panera). Unique in several ways, the pioneering chain was the first in the United States to introduce calorie counts to its menu, says USA Today, and was once billed as the healthiest fast food chain in the nation by Health Magazine. And that's not to mention that Panera's "You Pick 2" option has long been a game-changer for indecisive orderers everywhere.

While many customers may have their go-to orders among Panera's soups, bread bowls, baked goods, and even its secret menu, the fast-casual joint has been known to spice up its offerings with new options from time to time. This week, the chain announced two new dishes in its 2022 repertoire.

Panera's new soup and salad each feature chicken and lots of veggies

This year, Panera Bread is set to add a string of internationally-inspired dishes to its menu, as shared in a company press release. The first two additions include Thai chicken soup and a citrus Asian crunch salad with chicken. At the base of the soup is a Thai yellow coconut curry broth with lemongrass, ginger, galangal, and Thai lime. The veggie-rich dish is then finished with chicken, carrots, shiitake mushrooms, red bell peppers, and edamame. If you're a soup lover, this won't be the only new slurpable thing to try at Panera in 2022. The chain also plans to roll out a sweet and spicy Mexican street corn chowder, as well as a Cuban black bean and poblano soup.

Meanwhile, the foundation of the Asian crunch salad features a blend of fresh romaine, chopped broccoli, green cabbage, carrots, kale, edamame, pickled red onions, and fresh cilantro. The generous bowl of veggies is tossed in a tangerine soy ginger dressing and topped with seared chicken thigh meat, crisped carrots, and a teriyaki drizzle. This and the new soup can be ordered separately or together in a You Pick 2 combination.