Panera Bread is known for its hearty salads, flavorful sandwiches, and comforting soups, which provide nearly unlimited choices for a healthy and satisfying meal. But when it comes to Panera’s soups, why settle for a single bowl when you can enjoy a whole pot at home?
This copycat recipe for Panera Bread’s potato soup from nutritionist, registered dietitian, and recipe developer Kristen Carli delivers all the creamy goodness of the restaurant’s mouthwatering soup, but instead of just a single serving, you get a whole pot, plus leftovers you can enjoy all week long. Made with simple ingredients, many of which you likely already have on hand, this potato soup can easily be whipped up as a weeknight meal that is sure to satisfy the whole family. Serve it alongside salad or sandwiches, or just with a big hunk of crusty bread to help you soak up every last scrumptious drop.
Assemble the ingredients
One of the wonderful things about potato soup is that it doesn’t require a lot of ingredients in order to deliver rich, delicious flavor. In order to prepare Carli’s recipe, in addition to the star ingredient of yellow potatoes, you’ll also need a yellow onion, garlic, cooked bacon (plus a little extra if you’d like some to sprinkle over the top at the end), chicken broth, heavy whipping cream, plain cream cheese, unsalted butter, olive oil, salt, pepper, and fresh chives.
Prepare your veggies
If you love potatoes, but hate peeling them, you’re in luck. "Because you use an immersion blender, you won’t need to [peel the potatoes]," Carli says. "Plus, potato skins have a high amount of fiber, so are actually very healthy for you." Just give your potatoes a good scrubbing and then chop them up into cubes, and they’re ready to go.
Before you start cooking, you’ll also want to dice the onion and mince the garlic. You can also run your knife through your chives, giving them a rough chop so that they’ll sprinkle easily over your soup at the end.
Sauté the garlic and onions
If you love potato dishes but hate peeling potatoes, you’re in luck. "Because you use an immersion blender, you won’t need to [peel the potatoes]," Carli says. "Plus, potato skins have a high amount of fiber, so are actually very healthy for you." Instead, just give your potatoes a good scrubbing and then chop them up into cubes, and they’re ready to go.
Before you start cooking, you’ll also want to dice the onion and mince the garlic, if you’re using fresh. You can also run your knife through your chives, giving them a rough chop so that they’ll sprinkle easily over your soup at the end.
Add the potatoes, bacon, and broth
To the onions and garlic, add the potatoes, bacon, and chicken broth. Allow them to cook together for around 15 minutes over medium heat, until the potatoes are soft. If you’re not sure how to tell if your potatoes are cooked through, pierce one with a fork. If the fork goes in easily and breaks the potato apart, they’re done. If the fork meets resistance, they need a few more minutes. Make sure to try this with one of the thicker potato pieces in your pot, since smaller pieces will cook faster than larger ones.
Thicken the cream with butter and flour
While your potatoes are cooking, add butter to a small saucepan over medium heat and allow it to melt. Once the butter is melted, whisk in the flour until it’s fully incorporated in a smooth paste. Pour in the heavy cream and continue to whisk until all of the ingredients are combined, making sure to scrape the bottom of the pan so that none of the flour burns. Continue whisking over medium heat until the cream mixture has thickened, which should take about three minutes.
Blend it all together
Once your potatoes are cooked and your cream is thickened, add the cream and flour mixture to the potatoes. Using an immersion blender, blend on high until smooth, unless of course you’d prefer to leave it a little chunky.
"If someone wants a chunkier soup, I would recommend blending about half of the soup," Carli says. "That way you will still get the creaminess, but some chunks."
If you don’t have an immersion blender, you can also use a potato masher, although that won’t deliver quite the same smooth consistency as the blender. You can also transfer half to a blender and then add it back to the pot.
Once your soup is blended to your liking, add half a cup of cream cheese (about four ounces) and stir until it melts into the soup, which should take around five minutes. Add the salt and pepper, and then you’re ready to dish it up.
For a simple finish, Carli recommends garnishing each bowl of potato soup with fresh chives for a pop of color and subtle onion flavor. This soup is delicious that way, but can also be dressed up in any number of ways through adding whatever toppings you prefer. Basically, anything that would work on a baked potato would also work with this soup. Carli says, "I love chives, sour cream, shredded cheddar cheese, [and] crispy bacon bits."
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 yellow onion, diced
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 5 slices cooked bacon, diced
- 8 yellow potatoes, cubed
- 6 cups chicken broth
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 1 cup heavy whipping cream
- ½ cup (4 ounces) plain cream cheese
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon pepper
- 1 tablespoon minced chives, to garnish
- In a large pot over medium heat, add the olive oil. When hot, add the onion and garlic.
- Stir and cook until the onions are translucent, about 5 minutes.
- Add the potatoes, bacon, and chicken broth. Cook for 15 minutes.
- Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat.
- Whisk the flour into the butter and then add the heavy cream.
- Whisk over medium heat until the cream has thickened, about 3 minutes.
- Add the flour mixture to the potatoes. Using an immersion blender, blend on high until smooth.
- Add the cream cheese and stir to combine. Allow the cream cheese to melt into the soup, about 5 minutes.
- Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Garnish with chopped chives.