Bowled Over

Bowled Over

Your favorite soups, only cleaner.

How clean your shirt stays while you sip your favorite soup from Panera is your business, but how clean the soup itself is? That’s our business. For the past two years our food team has been hard at work remaking our bakery-cafe soups with clean ingredients.

So what do we mean by clean? No matter which soup you dunk your spoon into, you’ll never slurp an artificial preservative, sweetener, or color from an artifical source says Sara Burnett, the director of wellness and food policy at Panera.

A few of your favorites, like Turkey Chili and Low-Fat Vegetarian Black Bean, have always been clean. But as of now, our entire cafe soup menu is clean. “All of our soups are catching up now,” Sara says, including the Umami Broth used in our Broth Bowls, New England Clam Chowder, Vegetarian Creamy Tomato and Bistro French Onion. Yes, even our creamy, craveable Broccoli Cheddar has gone clean (click here for more on that soup’s saga). 

You’re probably thinking, Wait, your soups were already so good—why mess with them? Well, we couldn’t settle for good. We wanted great. We wanted soups that not only make you feel warm inside (like a good soup should); we wanted soups that you feel great about eating.

To do it, our chefs considered each ingredient in every soup and analyzed the recipes. Subtracting unwelcome ingredients wasn’t enough, Sara says, explaining that “when we looked at the recipes for each soup, we reviewed the ingredients and asked ourselves three questions: Is this ingredient necessary for the taste and texture? Is it overly processed? And what might be a better alternative that we can find in a well-stocked home pantry?” Every ingredient got a look-see, and when something came out, something better went in, and other ingredients were possibly adjusted. Let’s just say, we went through a lot of spoons tasting our results!

Here are a couple of examples: Instead of using modified corn starch as a thickener, we swapped in plain old corn starch—the same as on your own pantry shelf. Instead of bleached flour, we now use unbleached flour.

Hydrolyzed soy and corn protein as a flavoring? Er, no thanks—we replaced them with flavors like those from white onions, chives and cream cheese.

Now our soups are something you can indulge in and feel good about eating. You can love each sip of soup and love what’s in it. Put simply, from now on, you can have your soup and eat it too. What’s not to love about that?