On Wednesday my sister and I volunteered to make the soup supper to go with the Advent service at church.
Before you go thinking I'm some kind of charitable, goodhearted soul, I must tell you that the only reason that I do it is because I LOVE COOKING.
In case you're really dumb and haven't figured that out yet.
Okay, so I was like, "Whadaya think, Nemo? Will two huge pots of soup, a crockpot full of barbequed meatballs, five trillion chicken salad sandwiches, fifty thousand and two loaves of bread, and a couple bazillion desserts cover it?"
Well, it would have, except everybody had to try a huge bowl of BOTH kinds of soup AND meatballs. And some of the fools actually put the meatballs IN their broccoli soup in their gluttonous frenzy.
Barbequed meatballs in broccoli soup.
I had to leave the room.
Anyways, we ran out of soup after about ten minutes of serving. Luckily though, I had made enough chicken salad for an entire herd of starving buffaloes, so it was cool.
So during church I had a sudden inspiration (um, Pastor, if you're reading this, that was a typo. I meant after church. Because.... I always pay attention during church).
Anways, I burst out of church and ran up to my friend, Chubster, screaming, "Hey guess what!! I am going to start a CATERING BUSINESS."
I mean it would be like getting paid to have fun. How can you beat that?
Chubster laughed at me when I told her. She said, "Every time we come out of church you're like, "Guys, guys, guys! I have this amazing new plan!", and then you never actually do it."
Okay. Maybe that's true. But my plans of marrying Batman and writing a prequel to Harry Potter don't count. This catering thing is GOLD.
And so is this soup. I regret to say that I did not invent it. Mr. Panera did. Or whoever runs that wonderful, wonderful restaurant. And then somebody from Food Network Kitchens broke into his safe and stole the recipe. I mean, that's what I always assume when I see copycat recipes like this. But who knows.
Broccoli Cheese Soup: Panera Bread Copycat Recipe
Slightly modified from Food Network Kitchens6 tablespoons butter
2 cloves garlic
1 small onion, chopped
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups half-and-half
3 cups chicken broth
2 bay leaves
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
4 cups broccoli florets (about 1 head)
1 large carrot, diced
2 1/2 cups (about 8 ounces) grated sharp cheddar cheese
Melt the butter in a large Dutch oven or pot over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Whisk in the flour and cook until golden, 3 to 4 minutes, then gradually whisk in the half-and-half until smooth. Add the chicken broth, bay leaves and nutmeg, then season with salt and pepper and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, uncovered, until thickened, about 20 minutes.Add the broccoli and carrot to the broth mixture and simmer until tender, about 20 minutes. Discard the bay leaves. Puree the soup in batches in a blender until smooth; you'll still have flecks of carrot and broccoli. Return to the pot. (Or puree the soup in the pot with an immersion blender. If you are lucky enough to own one. Which I am not.)
Add the cheese to the soup and whisk over medium heat until melted. Add up to 3/4 cup water if the soup is too thick.
I don't even know if this was as good as Panera Bread's because I'm usually mostly paying attention to the sourdough bread bowls. But this cheddar and olive foccacia Nemo made was almost as perfect.