Heaven on Earth

Heaven on Earth

Friday, March 28, 2014

Panera Copycat Soup (Kale Cheddar)

I like Panera Bread, the chain restaurant, but there isn't one where I live so I've only eaten there while on vacation.  I do love their bread.  And while I've never tasted their Broccoli Cheddar Soup, Si of A Bountiful Kitchen, posted a copycat recipe on her blog and I was intrigued.  Si is a wonderful cook and everything I've ever made from her blog posts is delicious. You should go over and check out her site.

I can't eat broccoli, but I do eat kale and I had some in my refrigerator, along with most all of the other ingredients that I needed to make Si's copycat broccoli soup.  I wanted to use up my kale so I substituted it for the broccoli.  Have you ever cooked kale?  
Kale is a powerhouse of nutrients, a bit bitter, and it is a tough green so it takes a long cooking time to become tender. Thus, I changed the order in which the ingredients are added into the soup pot, and my soup also took a bit longer to cook. Kale stalks are so tough; I cut them out and I compost them for the garden.
 Have all of the ingredients chopped and ready to go.  The French call this mise en place.
Si suggested adding meat as an option and I just happened to have some leftover grilled chicken breasts with a mustard glaze in the fridge (this recipe was posted at the perfect time). As mustard was one of the ingredients called for, I halved Si's original amount of 1 teaspoon because of my mustard chicken.  There is such a thing as too much mustard in a recipe.  I also substituted Dijon mustard for plain yellow mustard as that's what I had on hand, and the Dijon was great in the soup.  In fact, everything about this soup was great! This recipes a keeper.  

Kale Cheddar Soup
1/2 cup of unsalted butter
1 cup of chopped yellow onion
1 cup of chopped carrots
4 cups of chopped kale
1 teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon of freshly ground pepper
1/2 teaspoon of paprika
2 drops of hot pepper sauce
4 cups of chicken stock
1 1/2 cups of half and half
1 teaspoon of prepared Dijon mustard
1/4 cup of cornstarch, whisked into 1/2 cup of cold water
2 cups of grated sharp cheddar cheese
2 cooked chicken breasts, chopped largely (optional)

Melt the butter in a pot.  Add the onions and cook until translucent.  Add the kale and cook until the kale is tender.  This took about 15 minutes and I added 1/2 cup of water and a lid to the pot to let it steam.  

Remove the lid and cook until there is just a bit of liquid in the pot.  Add the carrots and cook for about 5 minutes or until they are soft.  Season the pot with salt, pepper, paprika, and the hot pepper sauce.  Pour the broth and 1/2 and 1/2 into the pot. Bring to a simmer over low heat.

Meanwhile, mix the cornstarch and the 1/2 cup of cold water together and stir until the cornstarch is dissolved.  Add it to the pot with the other ingredients and stir.  Add the cheese and meat (if desired) and stir until the cheese is melted.  

Taste for seasoning and add more salt if needed.  (Sharp Cheddar is salty so be careful and judicious with your salt).

Serves 6 as a main course, 4 if you omit the meat.

Si's original recipe is over on her blog.  


  1. Gotta get some kale this weekend. Sounds delicious!

  2. I had never cooked with kale until this past year. I really like it. The soup sounds really delicious. I was watching a Food Network show, now a favorite of mine, called Heartland Table with Amy Theilen and she made a beer cheese soup that sounded SO good. Now I've just got to make soup. It's gonna snow, so why not?

  3. I had to laugh when you said there is such a thing as too much mustard in a recipe. For me, 1/4 t. is too much LOL. Sadly, I'm not much of a fan. I do love Kale in soups though, so I'm thinking this recipe would be just great with no mustard! ;-D

  4. Anna, you definately could leave out the mustard. It's a flavorful soup without it. I think I actually put less in than Si's recipe called for even with the mustard glaze on the chicken. A little goes a long way.

  5. Any soup with cheese in has to be good I always think!! I would not have thought of adding kale to this though, great substitute!! xx

  6. Hi Bonnie! You're so smart! Kale isn't calling my name, but I know it's super healthy.
    I was just at Panera today, but it was too early for lunch.

  7. That soup looks so creamy and good. I hate kale in the green smoothies, but have had it in salad and roasted as a side dish and loved it. This is a great way to get it in and it makes the soup really pretty.

  8. I have not eaten at Panera, but I bet it is delicious! I know you are great at soups. I have not done much with kale in my kitchen, but I know it is good for you. Joni

  9. That sounds wonderful! I love kale so I might have to try this soon!

  10. Edie is adorable! Are you going to tell us where she landed?

  11. I love kale and this recipe looks terrific! I was thinking, since I have been working full time I need a full time cook, would you consider applying? ;-)

  12. I love your sub of kale. I am trying to eat more of it, bc it's good for me. I recently made a salad with kale that I tried at Red Butte last year. Ill post it next week for Mother's Day. Have you had their kale and radish salad? So good! Anyway. Love your blog. Love that little elephant you made.

  13. I haven't tried kale...yet. I have been wanting to so this might be the recipe where I do. Sure looks good!