Craving something savory and creamy? Try our Panera baked potato soup copycat recipe. It has everything you want in a potato soup: smoky bacon, freshly grated cheese, and tender potato chunks simmered in a creamy broth. Fall in love with this comforting entree by customizing it with your favorite baked potato toppings.
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This delicious recipe uses pantry staples that can be found in most major grocery stores. The only ingredient that might be hard to find is the Neufchâtel cheese, which is similar to cream cheese.
- Aromatics: We used yellow onion and fresh minced garlic.
- Dairy: We used salted butter, whole milk, heavy cream, cubed Neufchâtel cheese, and freshly grated Parmesan cheese.
- Flour: We used all purpose flour, but to make this gluten free, use your favorite gluten free flour. Panera Bread uses rice flour with cornstarch for this soup.
- Broth: We used reduced sodium chicken broth, but to make this vegetarian or vegan, use vegetable stock.
- Vegetables: We used russet potatoes, because that is what Panera uses, but feel free to use Yukon Gold, as they are less starchy.
- Meat: We used smoked bacon in the soup and also as a garnish. Vegans can use vegan bacon or leave it out. Meat lovers can also use finely diced ham.
- Dried Spices: We used sea salt and turmeric because Panera does, but feel free to also use white pepper.
- Seasonings: We used hot pepper sauce (Tabasco) and liquid smoke.
- Fresh Herbs: We used chives for the soup and also as a garnish, but if you can't find any, use the green part of scallions.
- Bread: Panera Bread cafés give you the option of serving it in a sourdough bread bowl. You can also choose a French baguette. We also have their black pepper focaccia pictured in our photo shoot, which also tastes amazing dipped into this soup.
Did Panera discontinue their potato soup?
No, you'll find that some cafés will carry it, but others won't. At the time of this post, our local café does carry it, but they don't serve wild rice soup.
Is their potato soup gluten free?
Panera has some gluten conscious menu items. This means there is flour in the air due to baking bread, and the veggies are cut on boards where breadcrumbs could be. If you read the ingredients list for baked potato soup, Panera uses rice flour and cornstarch to help thicken it.
Our copycat recipe can easily be made gluten free by replacing the all purpose flour to your favorite gluten free flour, like King Arthur's measure-for-measure flour. You can also leave out the flour and have a soup that is a little less thick because it is also thickened by mashing half of the potatoes.
What are the calories for this soup?
For one cup of Panera's, there are 210 calories, 11g fat, 23g carbs, 3g sugar, and 6g protein.
For the same serving size, our copycat version has 268 calories, 15g fat, 26g carbs, 3.8g sugar, and 7.4g protein. For more nutritional facts, please scroll to the end of the recipe card.
Should I boil the potatoes before adding them to the soup?
There's no need to pre-cook the potatoes. They are scrubbed, peeled, and cubed before you start, but they cook right in the soup after the liquids (chicken broth, milk, and cream) are added.
Can I freeze this soup?
It is not recommended to freeze baked potato soup. The potatoes act like a sponge, absorbing moisture and becoming grainy after reheating. Plus, dairy based soups separate and lose their creamy consistency after being frozen and reheated.
How to Make
Gather all the ingredients.
Melt the butter over medium high heat in a heavy-bottomed soup pot or Dutch oven, then saute the onion with a generous sprinkle of salt until soft, roughly 3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for a minute while constantly stirring.
Sprinkle on the flour and whisk for two minutes to help cook out the raw flour taste. If you need this gluten free, use your favorite gluten free flour or just omit this step.
Slowly pour in the chicken broth while whisking to prevent any lumps from forming.
Add the whole milk and heavy cream and stir.
Carefully add the cubed potatoes, trying to avoid splashing the hot soup.
Cover and bring to a near boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 8 minutes, or until the potatoes are done. While the soup is simmering, cook the bacon in a cast iron skillet until golden. Drain on a paper towel lined plate and allow to cool then crumble the bacon so the pieces are a bit smaller.
Mash the half of the potatoes. This will help thicken the broth and change the texture.
Add the spices and seasonings and stir well to combine. Note, the turmeric is optional, but Panera does have it listed in their ingredients.
Add the softened cubed Neufchâtel cheese, the freshly grated Parmesan cheese, the crumbled bacon, and the chives. Whisk the baked potato soup until the Neufchâtel cheese is melted.
Simmer on medium low heat for 15 minutes, taste, and adjust seasonings if necessary.
Serve hot with your choice of toppings. We suggest freshly grated Parmesan cheese, bacon, and chives. If you're feeling fancy, serve the baked potato soup inside a sourdough bread bowl from Panera's bakery or from your local grocery store.
- Need this gluten free? Swap flour for your favorite gluten free flour or leave out the flour and not have a roux.
- Need this vegetarian? Swap out the chicken broth for vegetable stock. Omit the bacon but add extra spices.
- Need this vegan? Use vegetable stock, vegan cream cheese, vegan cheese, full fat coconut milk and add extra spices.
- Need extra spices? Use Cajun seasonings, ground Ancho chili pepper, white pepper, or celery seed.
- Need this lower in fat? Use 2 oz. Neufchatel, 1 cup half and half, and ¼ cup Parmesan cheese.
- Need this heartier? Use ¼ cup bacon, and ½ cup finely diced ham.
- Need this more chowder tasting? Use ½ cup of chopped celery with the onion.
- Don't overcook the russet potatoes, as they are a starchy potato and can fall apart easier than a waxy potato.
- Don't overdo it with the potato masher; the soup should still have some chunks.
- Whisk in the chicken broth gradually to prevent clumping.
- Can't find Neufchâtel? Use cream cheese or sour cream.
- Can't find a sourdough bread bowl? Use any kind of small round bread to serve the soup in.
Are you looking for more Panera soup copycat recipes?
- Bistro French Onion Soup
- Black Bean Soup
- Creamy Tomato Soup
- 10 Vegetable Soup
- Chicken Noodle Soup
- Turkey Chili
- Summer Corn Chowder
- Chicken & Wild Rice Soup
- Autumn Squash
- Broccoli Cheddar
Do you love Panera's bakery items and want to make them at home? Check out our copycat recipes for:
- Black Pepper Focaccia Bread
- Cinnamon Crunch Bagels
- Chocolate Chipper Cookies
- Tomato Basil Bread
- Lemon Drop Cookies
- Kitchen Sink Cookies
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Panera Baked Potato Soup
For the Soup
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 1 cup yellow onions, chopped
- 1 tablespoon garlic, minced
- ¼ cup all-purpose flour
- 5 cups reduced sodium chicken broth
- ¼ cup whole milk
- ⅔ cup heavy cream
- 5 cups russet potatoes, peeled and cubed
- 4 ounces Neufchâtel cheese, cubed and softened
- ½ cup Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
- ⅓ cup bacon, cut in ½-inch pieces (6 pieces)
- 1 ½ teaspoon sea salt
- ¼ teaspoon Tabasco sauce
- ¼ teaspoon liquid smoke
- Pinch to ⅛ teaspoon ground turmeric, for color (optional)
- ¼ cup chives
For the Garnishes
- Parmesan cheese, finely grated
- Chives, minced
- Bacon, cut in ¼ inch pieces
- In a large Dutch oven set over medium high heat, melt the butter, then add the onion with a generous pinch of salt and cook for 3 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the garlic and cook until it's fragrant, roughly a minute.
- Sprinkle on the flour and cook for 2 minutes, whisking constantly.
- Slowly pour in the chicken broth while whisking to prevent clumps. Pour in the milk and the heavy cream. Stir, then carefully add the potatoes to prevent splashing.
- Cover and bring to a slight boil, which will take roughly 6 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium low. Keep covered and simmer for 8 minutes or until the potatoes are fork tender.
- While the soup is cooking, fry the bacon in a cast iron skillet until it is golden brown. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate and blot off any extra grease. Allow to cool, then crumble into smaller pieces.
- Using a potato masher, mash the potatoes in the soup to help thicken the soup and to change the texture. Mash roughly half the potatoes.
- Stir in the sea salt, Tabasco, liquid smoke, and a pinch of turmeric if you want it to have a more golden hue.
- Add the freshly grated Parmesan cheese, Neufchâtel cheese cubes, bacon crumbles, and chives. Whisk until the cheese melts, then simmer uncovered on medium low heat for 15 minutes. Taste and adjust seasonings, if necessary.
- Garnish with additional toppings, such as bacon, chives, and Parmesan cheese. Serve in a sourdough bread bowl or in a soup bowl with a chunk of a French baguette or a wedge of black pepper focaccia. Panera also gives you the option of kettle chips or an apple with your soup.
- Be careful not to overcook the russet potatoes.
- Panera Bread has chunks of potato, so go easy with the potato masher.
- To prevent clumping, whisk in the chicken broth gradually.
- Use cream cheese or sour cream if you can't find Neufchâtel cheese.
- Like the idea of a bread bowl? Use any kind of small round bread. Panera uses sourdough.