When Daily Buzz Food chose us to be Tastemakers for Panera Bread soups, we were quite excited. While we've been to our local Panera quite often, we haven't been in a long time and we were looking forward to see what new things they had to offer. Although we received a gift card in the mail to put toward our meal and to compensate us for our blog post, we want to note that all the opinions we state here are our own.
We love to make soup and make it often out of fresh, seasonal ingredients. Therefore, when we do try soups from the grocery store, we are usually disappointed. We stopped buying canned soup altogether, because of the high sodium content, lack of flavor, and general mushiness of the contents. That is one thing we have to give Panera. Their soups are definitely fresh, with great care obviously taken to ensure they are made with high quality ingredients. They are flavorful and delicious, hot and tasty. And with a variety of choices that change daily, there is one that will suit everyone's taste and dietary needs. Speaking of which, it's great that they label which ones are low-fat, all-natural, and/or vegetarian, and they post the calories in each portion right on the menu (see below).
It's that extremely busy time of year, so we decided to get our Panera to go. We each chose items from the "You Pick 2" menu - a pretty good deal that offers a cup of soup with either a sandwich or salad as well as a side of fruit, bread or chips. Amy went with the French Onion Soup and Asian Chicken Salad with a side of baguette; Chris had the Low-Fat all-Natural Chicken Noodle Soup and the Chipotle Chicken Panini, also with a side of bread (it's our opinion that one must have bread with soup!).
While the salad (amazing dressing) and panini (great smoky flavor) were delicious, the soups were the star of the show. It's hard to see in the picture below, but the chicken noodle soup was chock-full of fresh carrots, onions and celery that (thankfully) weren't mushy, tender all-white chicken breast, and perfectly cooked egg noodles in a nicely seasoned, not too salty, chicken broth. Our only complaint was that we didn't opt for a bigger portion!
The French onion soup had plenty of soft, sauteed onions, nicely caramelized in butter and seasonings in a dark beef broth that had lots of flavor but wasn't too strong. There were hints of tomato in the layers of flavor and a unique blend of Asiago and Parmesan cheese sprinkled on top. As a nice touch, the homemade croutons were packaged in a little bag on the side so as not to get too soggy.
It is obvious to us that the soupmakers at Panera know what they are doing. And while our Panera location is pretty close to us, we have noticed that our local grocery store has recently started selling Panera soup in its freshly made foods area. Having been reminded (thanks to Panera and Daily Buzz Food) of how fresh, well-made, and deliciously satisfying they are, we'll be picking them up more often to enjoy on those days when making our own just isn't in the cards. To sum up, Panera soups are highly recommended by A Couple in the Kitchen - they are almost as good as homemade.
I love anything Panera!
I love their broccoli cheddar soup!
I love Panera and agree I should go more often for dinner take out. Will definitely try the French Onion soup!
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