For soup that tastes just like Panera's Broccoli Cheddar soup, use Velveeta in this recipe. If you prefer not to use Velveeta, substitute it with eight ounces of shredded Cheddar cheese. Add the Cheddar in four stages, allowing the cheese to melt into the soup between each addition.
- 1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter
- 1 medium onion (5 ounces), finely chopped
- 1 clove garlic, minced or put through a garlic press
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1/4 cup sweet rice flour
- 4 cups homemade chicken stock or store-bought gluten-free reduced-sodium broth
- 1 1/2 cups whole or 2% milk
- 1 package (16 ounces) frozen chopped broccoli
- 1 large carrot (2 ounces), peeled and grated
- 1 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 8 ounces Velveeta, cut into small cubes (see note)
In a large pot, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon, until translucent and soft, about 2 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Continue to stir frequently. Add the mustard and stir to combine.
Stir in the sweet rice flour until a paste forms. Cook, stirring constantly, until the paste is a light golden brown, about 4 minutes. Whisk in the chicken stock in a slow and steady steam. Whisk in the milk. Bring to a boil, reduce to a bare simmer, then add the broccoli, carrot, hot pepper sauce, and black pepper. Simmer (look for occasional gentle bubbles) for 30 minutes.
Using a slotted spoon, transfer the broccoli from the soup to a blender or food processor. Add a generous splash of soup, about 1/2 cup. (Don’t fill the blender more than halfway. Work in batches if you have a small blender.) Blend until the broccoli is almost smooth but not a paste.
Return the broccoli to the soup. Stir to combine. Add the Velveeta. Using a wooden spoon, stir until the Velveeta is melted (see note). Season to taste with salt and simmer for 5 minutes. Serve. Store leftover soup in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.