Friday, December 14, 2012

Soup at Panera

Is there anything more comforting than a steaming bowl of chicken noodle soup?  I can't think of any other food that says "mom" more than this does.

As you all well know, I love soup, I make a lot of soup, and I consume a lot of soup because (with the possible exception of a chocolate chip cookie), nothing says comfort like a steaming bowl of soup.  It can chill you on a hot day, calm you on a stressed day, warm you on a cold day, and a hearty dose of chicken soup has been known to cure ills.  Unfortunately I don’t always get a chance to make a nice pot of soup, which is where Panera comes in.  A veritable port in a literal storm, Panera came to my rescue after a frantic day of shopping when I was desperate for wholesome, delicious fortification.

The beefy, rich onion soup is one of my favorites.  The croutons, made with a variety of their own tasty breads, are an excellent addition, and something that I'm going to try in my own French Onion Soup, replacing the baguette.

It’s always nice to go to Panera with friends who don’t mind if you take a small (okay, rather large, if you must know) tasting of their soup, or at least don’t complain when you do.  How else can I try all of their offerings on the same day, other than getting a carryout (something I often do)?  It should pain me to say that the soup at Panera is as good as the soup that I make at home –  I like to consider myself the soup queen – but instead I simply appease myself with the comfort that if I’m too tired to make my own soup, Panera is there to pick up the slack.  Sitting by the fire (yes, my Panera has a fireplace), sipping a hot bowl of soup from an edible bread bowl, no less  provides strength and stamina on even the most difficult days.  So, during this particularly stressful time of the year, allow me to encourage you to stop in and have some (as well as a sandwich, salad, and mocha latte), and then please your family as well by grabbing a bag of freshly made bagels or pastries on your way out.

On the chance that you are unfamiliar with their offerings, here is what awaits you (on the designated days) when you walk in the door.  I dare you to pick a favorite.

Sliced onion sautéed in sweet butter and seasonings, gently simmered in a light beef broth with essence of tomato, topped with our homemade croutons and Asiago-Parmesan cheese. Served daily.

Chopped broccoli, shredded carrot and select seasonings simmered in a velvety smooth cheese sauce. Served daily.

Plump black beans simmered in a spicy vegetarian broth with onion, red bell pepper, garlic and cumin. Served: Sunday, Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday

Home-style cuts of russet potato simmered with select seasonings and smoked bacon in a rich cream sauce flavored with spring onion and snipped chives. Served Monday & Wednesday.

Chopped sea clams, diced potato, celery, onion& traditional seasonings, simmered in a rich, creamy broth. Served Friday.

Fresh vegetables and tender all-white chicken breast simmered in a delicately seasoned chicken broth with traditional egg noodles. Served daily.

Vine-ripened pear tomatoes pureed with fresh cream for a velvety smooth flavor accentuated by hints of red pepper & oregano, topped with our Asiago croutons. Served daily.

Long grain and wild rice, celery, onion, carrot and diced chicken simmered in chicken broth embellished with cream and select herbs. Served Saturday, Sunday, Tuesday & Thursday.

A low-fat vegetarian soup with diced tomatoes, sliced zucchini, yellow beans, fresh Swiss chard, cauliflower, bell peppers and pearled barley in a tomato broth. Garnished with a dollop of nut-free basil pesto. Served Monday, Wednesday, Friday. 

Now the disclaimer – Yes, I was compensated for writing this post by the DailyBuzz Food Tastemaker program, but you know what, it wouldn’t have mattered.  I’ve been going to Panera since the day it opened its doors.  It used to be the favorite gathering place for us harried mothers after dropping our kids off at preschool.  We’d sip coffee and nibble pastries while commiserating on the fact that some of us had yet to comb our hair, brush our teeth, and one of us (I won’t say who) was still wearing her bedroom slippers.  It has the feel of a neighborhood gathering place and never disappoints.

Photos by Pattie Tierney and Christopher Brunner

This post is linked to:
Mosaic Monday

1 comment:

Pat@BPM said...

One of our favorite places for lunch when we are on the go. Plus...they have the very best iced tea.:-)