broth bowl

Behind the Broth Bowl

The real story behind our two new flavors and why we can’t stop filling bowls with good, clean ingredients.

Soup and salad. Soup and sandwich. Soup and pizza. Okay, maybe not that last one, but have you ever noticed that soup almost always comes with an “and” attached? At least, that’s usually the case here, but not so much in the rest of the world.

“In so many cultures around the globe, soup is much more than a side, it’s the star of the table,” says Dan Kish, Panera’s head chef. “So that got us thinking: what could we do to make a soup that was hearty, but not heavy. Something that could live up to the word ‘entrée’.”

Our chefs took a look at what kinds of soups people in these cultures eat as meals—everything from pad Thai to matzo ball soup—and used those as inspiration for our broth bowls.

By now, you’ve probably tried our Lentil Quinoa Bowl (and if you haven’t, seriously, what are you waiting for?). Added to the menu just over a year ago, it takes its inspiration from the ramen bowls most popular in East Asia, but with quinoa, brown rice and lentils in place of noodles.

It was a big hit, and that made us eager to explore what other great things we could do with broth and a bowl. We landed on another classic: wonton soup. Typically kept simple with boiled wontons floating in a clear broth, our version, the new Thai Garden Chicken Wonton Bowl, bulks things up with fresh vegetables, roasted mushroom and onion blend and flavorful Thai chili vinaigrette, cilantro and sesame seeds. The real focus of the dish, though, is the ginger-chicken wontons floating in our savory hen broth.

When you think Italian food, you probably don’t think broth bowl, but maybe you should. “Brodo” the Italian word for broth, typically refers to the liquid left after simmering a large portion of hearty meat. On a traditional Italian table, that broth would be served alongside the meat for sipping, but in our new Ricotta Sacchettini with Chicken Bowl, we’ve put it all together, along with other classic Italian flavors like pesto and tomato sofrito, cheese-filled sacchettini pasta and hen broth, to create our own version of this favorite.

While it’s perfectly fine to think of these new broth bowls as the star of your next meal, they’re also great when paired with a satisfying side, like your favorite salad, sandwich or flatbread.