So...on the coldest day of 2012 (so far), what's on Rachel's plate today?

Homemade, better than Panera Broccoli Cheddar Soup! 

I found this recipe for broccoli cheddar soup that claimed to be better than the franchise chain Panera's recipe. 
When I was younger, Panera's broccoli cheddar soup was my absolute favorite and so when I stumbled upon this recipe I was curious.  It is really pretty simple and not too expensive to make.  I used fresh broccoli grown from our home garden, and several of the ingredients were household staples we already had.

I  made it last night while my mom was cooking dinner, intending to freeze it and have it throughout the week but that was not the case.  Even though my mom cooked steak and collards, that didn't stop her, my dad, and my brother from devouring it until there was only enough for one small bowl left.  I'd say this recipe was very successful and would make a great winter soup to freeze! (If you can hide it from your ravenous family).

I would just like to add lastly as a little side note that I ended up adding more milk to the soup at the end because it ended up a little thicker than I liked.  I would definitely wait until the end though to make any adjustments you see fit because remember, you can always add more seasonings but its harder to take them  out.  Enjoy!

Broccoli Cheddar Soup

1/4 cup butter 
1/2 chopped onion 
1 clove garlic 
1/4 cup flour 
1 cup half-and-half 
1 cup milk 
(I ended up adding about 3/4 cup more) 
2 cups chicken stock  
1/2 lb fresh broccoli, chopped 
1 cup carrot, shredded and chopped 
1/4 tsp nutmeg 
1/4 tsp cardamom 
8 ounces grated sharp cheddar cheese 
4 ounces grated Colby jack cheese  
Salt and pepper to taste 

Sauté the onion and garlic in the butter over medium heat.  Then add in the flour, stirring constantly. Add in the half and half, milk, and chicken stock. Bring to almost a boil. 

Add the broccoli and carrots. Simmer on low heat for about 12 minutes. 

Season the soup with the salt, pepper, nutmeg, and cardamom. Stir in the cheeses (use however much or little you like) and stir until melted.  Enjoy in a bowl or delicious homemade bread bowl!