Panera's Broccoli Cheese Soup
(modified by Wendy D.)
8 tablespoons butter, divided
1 medium onion, chopped
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 quart half-and-half
8 cups chicken or vegetable stock
2 1/2 pounds broccoli, steamed and roughly chopped
1 pound carrots, finely grated (about 3 cups)
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg or more, to taste
1 pound sharp Cheddar cheese, grated
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
1. Melt 2 tablespoons butter in 8-quart soup pot. Saute chopped onion in melted butter until soft; set aside.
2. Melt remaining 6 tablespoons butter in same pot. Add flour and whisk over medium heat for 3 to 5 minutes.
3. Whisking constantly, add half-and-half. Continue whisking until smooth.
4. Add stock, whisking until combined.
5. Simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
6. Add the broccoli, carrots, and reserved onion. Cook over low heat until veggies are tender, 20 to 25 minutes.
7. Blend if desired, preferably with an immersible blender.
8. Add grated cheese and stir over medium-low heat until cheese is melted.
9. Stir in nutmeg, salt, and pepper to taste.
NOTE: I steam broccoli in microwave. Add more stock if the soup is too thick for your taste. However, though it's quite thick when cool, it seems just right to me when hot. Serve with crusty bread and perhaps an apple pie for dessert.