I opted on leaving out the bread bowl for less carbs. This soup tastes reminiscent of Panera's Broccoli Cheddar soup. Best of all, you can put it together in 20 minutes.
1/4 cup butter, cubed
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 cups frozen broccoli florets, 1 bag
1 large carrot, finely chopped
3 cups chicken stock
2 cups half-and-half cream
2 bay leaves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/4 cup water or additional chicken stock
2-1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
6 small round bread loaves (about 8 ounces each), optional
Optional toppings: Crumbled cooked bacon, additional shredded cheddar cheese, ground nutmeg and pepper
In a 6-qt. stockpot, heat butter over medium heat; saute onion and garlic until tender, 6-8 minutes. Stir in broccoli, carrot, stock, cream and seasonings; bring to a boil. Simmer, uncovered, until vegetables are tender, 8 minutes.
Mix cornstarch and water until smooth; stir into soup. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally; cook and stir until thickened, 1-2 minutes. Remove bay leaves. Stir in cheese until melted.
If using bread bowls, cut a slice off the top of each bread loaf; hollow out bottoms, leaving 1/4-in.-thick shells (save removed bread for another use). Fill with soup just before serving.
If desired, serve soup with toppings.