Jacksonville, North Carolina, has a plethora of restaurants. Chili’s, O’Charleys, Applebees, Olive Garden, Ruby Tuesdays, oh my! But to be honest, all I ever want is a Muffaletta and Sweet Tea from McAlisters and Broccoli and Cheese Soup in a bread bowl from Panera.
The other day I told Frank I was craving Blakeney food. Blakeney is my favorite area in Charlotte and there are real restaurants, the kind that have ambiance, creative chefs, ever-changing menus and don’t have locations in all 50 states. He proceeded to tell me I was being stuck up, but you get my point.
Sometimes a girl just needs something more.
And then it happened. I got this idea that I would create my own Broccoli and Cheese Soup in a bread bowl. And it was amazing. Pure, I’m giving Panera a run for their money with my homemade croutons, bliss.
Katie’s Fake It ‘Til You Make It Broccoli & Cheese Soup
1/2 stick of butter
1 1/2 pounds fresh broccoli, chopped into florets (I used frozen, pre-chopped broccoli and it was easy peasy)
1 large onion, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
3 T flour
4 cups of chicken stock
1/2 cup milk
As much shredded cheddar cheese as your heart desires
Melt the 1/2 stick of butter in a large stock pot over medium heat. Add the broccoli, onion, carrot and salt and pepper and saute, until the onion is translucent, approximately six minutes. Add the flour and cook for a minute, mixing everything completely.
Add the stock and bring to a boil. Simmer uncovered until the broccoli is tender, approximately 15 minutes. Move the pot off the heat and stir in the milk and a handful of cheese, if desired.
Puree the soup in batches, using a blender. Be careful with the hot liquids and make the soup as chunky or silky smooth as you want! Transfer the soup back to the stock pot and add the shredded cheddar, until it reaches your desired cheesy-ness.
And, if you’re feeling really fancy, take some crusty bread and cube it. Melt 1/4 tablespoon of butter in a skillet, with some olive oil, and coat the cubes of bread. Place the cubes on a cookie sheet and sprinkle with garlic salt and Parmesan cheese! Toast at 375 degrees until they are crunchy!
Serve the soup with a generous heap of cheddar cheese and whatever croutons may be left after you discover their amazing ability to tickle your taste buds and accidentally share this secret with your husband.