Play It Again, Sam
Soups, salads, and many other menu selections have become irresistible favorites in our bakery-cafes. We asked the Panera Bread Food Team to reflect on the secrets to the success of a few of the items you know and love.
Broccoli Cheddar Soup. A staple on the menu for 27 years, this soup is an iconic favorite. Chopped broccoli and shredded carrots in a velvety-smooth cheese sauce make up a hearty meal that warms from the inside out. “We layer the ingredients so the flavor builds throughout the cooking process,” says Dan Kish, head chef at Panera Bread. “This soup, served in a Sourdough Bread Bowl, is not just a meal; it’s a celebration of who we are and how we started.”
Bacon Turkey Bravo. Our first Signature Sandwich, the Bravo has been on our menu for 16 years. Smoked turkey breast, applewood-smoked bacon, smoked Gouda, lettuce and tomatoes, a signature sauce on our Tomato Basil Bread—it’s the ideal combination of fresh and savory ingredients. “There are many reasons why this sandwich is one of our favorites,” says Dan. “It takes a classic deli ingredient—smoked turkey—and elevates it to a whole new level.”
Chipotle Chicken Panini. On our menu since 2007, this panini is grilled on our Artisan French Bread and features all-natural, antibiotic-free chicken, applewood-smoked bacon, smoked cheddar, tomatoes, and ancho-chipotle spread. “It’s one of our top two sandwiches,” says Dan, who recommends pairing it with the Broccoli Cheddar Soup on the You Pick Two menu. “The combination of the smoky ingredients and our ancho-chipotle spread delivers a lot of flavor in every bite.”
Greek Salad. “The quality of the ingredients is what makes this dish stand out,” says John Taylor, a member of the Panera Bread Food Team. “Crisp romaine lettuce, vine-ripened tomatoes, and creamy domestic feta come together in the perfect marriage of freshness and flavor. The ingredients are our passion, and this salad speaks to that. It’s simple and fresh, and the ingredients shine.”
Mac & Cheese. Introduced in 2009, our Mac & Cheese was born in head chef Dan’s kitchen. “A lot of the work I do starts at home,” says Dan, who often tests new recipes at family dinners. “Panera’s Mac & Cheese is a throwback to the days when people made everything from scratch. The cheese, the sauce, the pasta—it’s an old-school recipe reminiscent of those used at church socials and Sunday dinners, and because of that, it has become one of our most popular menu items.”
Thai Chicken Salad. “So many wonderful flavors work together in this salad,” says John. “It has an almost addictive quality!” The combination of all-natural, antibiotic-free chicken, romaine lettuce, Thai cashews, fire-roasted edamame, red peppers, carrots, and a drizzle of peanut sauce became an overnight sensation. “We tested this salad in the Los Angeles area, and it did very well. By the time we moved it into Chicago and other markets, its success was off the charts.”
Chicken Noodle Soup. “We make our Chicken Noodle Soup the way my grandmother made chicken noodle soup,” says Dan. “Simple ingredients—country-style egg noodles, a good broth, all-natural white-meat chicken, carrots, celery, a little parsley—call to mind the flavors of home. It’s warm and comforting, the soup so many of us grew up with. Chicken noodle soup has roots in a lot of different cultures, and I believe that resonates with our customers.”
Basil Pesto Sacchettini. One of our newest items, this pasta has quickly become a standout. “Sacchettini derives its name from the drawstring bag carried by drifters,” says Dan. Stuffed with six cheeses and pinched at the collar, this tender and flavorful pasta is perfectly paired with our basil pesto. “It carries many great Italian flavors in one bite!” says Dan.
Sourdough Bread. Handcrafted from our original sourdough starter, our Sourdough Bread pays homage to old-world baking techniques. “When I think about our heritage, one word comes to mind: sourdough,” says Tom Gumpel, head baker at Panera Bread. “Panera was, in fact, founded on this bread. The inherent passion we have for artisan baking and bread making is evident from the time and care we put into each loaf. It’s something our customers have come to know and appreciate. It’s where we began.”