I was first introduced to Panera Bread years ago. My mom, who was actually the one who turned me on to it, used to work near the local Panera and it was a favorite lunch option for her and her coworkers. If there’s anyone who has an eye for good food at a good value it’s a group of working moms, so I knew I had to try it out. I was impressed by their hot and cold sandwiches, breakfast items and baked goods – oh, the baked goods! So I was excited when the first Panera Breads started opening up around NYC. And, I was super excited when DailyBuzz Food gave me the opportunity to sample Panera’s new soups!
Armed with a ravenous appetite, I checked out the soup options at Panera with two eating buddies.
As a naturally indecisive person, accompanied by two equally indecisive eating buddies, all 3 of us decided to go with the “You Pick 2″ soup and half-sandwich combo. My first eating buddy went with the Broccoli Cheddar soup, featuring chopped broccoli, shredded carrot and select seasonings simmered in a velvety smooth cheese sauce – yum!
In the name of food blogging, I had to take a sample of the broccoli cheddar soup! I’m a sucker for cream soups (really, is there anything better?) and this one was lusciously rich with a sharp but not overpowering cheddar flavor.
My second eating buddy decided to go a little lighter (but she got the chips instead of the apple, so net neutral?) with the Low-Fat All Natural Chicken Noodle soup – chock full of fresh vegetables, tender all-white chicken breast and egg noodles simmered in a delicately seasoned chicken broth:
This soup selection was also mouthwatering in its simplicity – not a ton of extra ingredients or “stuff” to complicate things. Just a clean, simple but hearty broth accented by generous pieces of chicken and vegetables. Perfect for a dreary winter day!
I was wavering amongst several soup options, when I saw the perfect combo:
Yup – that’s “Big Kid Grilled Cheese” (Gruyere, Vermont White Cheddar, organic sliced American cheese and Applewood- Smoked Bacon) accompanied by Vegetarian Creamy Tomato soup – vine-ripened pear tomatoes with fresh cream, hints of red pepper & oregano, and topped with Asiago croutons.
I mean, come on. Isn’t that one just calling my name? If there’s anyone that’s just a big kid, that’s me :). This combination was fantastic – the complexity of the grilled cheese with the tangy, creamy tomato soup was so nostalgic and comforting. Familiar yet fancied up a bit, if you will.
A Panera location just opened up about 10 blocks from my workplace, and I can’t wait to add it to my lunchtime rotation. The price of the soup and sandwich combo was comparable to my other lunch options, and the quality was great. Thank you, Panera Bread and DailyBuzz Food, for the opportunity to sample these soups!
FTC Disclosure: I was compensated for my meal and for my time to write this post by the DailyBuzz Food Tastemakers program; however, all opinions expressed above are my own.