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Last updated on April 30th, 2024 at 05:11 pm

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Panera Bread Baked Potato Soup Copycat [video]

Panera Bread baked potato soup is one of my favorite comfort foods and I like to make it often. The creamy potatoes are seasoned perfectly and topped with bacon and some French bread for an incredible lunch or dinner. I had to make this recipe myself because Panera stopped selling it! After years of eating the yummy comfort food, they took it away without warning. But you can make it yourself with my easy recipe.

Panera Bread Baked Potato Soup

I am on a mission to bring you all the Panera Bread Soup recipes in one place. Previously, I have shared with you their Creamy Tomato Soup and Chicken Wild Rice Soup –  you should add this to your “must try” list.

Panera Bread Baked Potato Soup Copycat is the homemade version of the famous Baked Potato Soup that so many love. On a cold winter day, when I run crazy to do all the holiday shopping, there is nothing better than popping into a Panera Bread for some soul-warming meal.

I got hooked on this delicious soup when I was out doing my holiday shopping. I stopped at Panera Bread for something quick and all I could smell was the sensational aroma of baked potatoes and bacon. When I asked what it was, they served me a bowl of the creamiest and most incredible soup I have ever had. So of course, I got to work on my homemade version.

For those who think potato soup is boring, you will want to try this recipe. It is far from ordinary or boring. The sweet onions, garlic, and herbs with cream cheese, heavy cream, and butter for extra creaminess give this savory soup so much flavor, that you have to try it to believe it! To make it even better, real bacon bits, cheddar cheese, and some chives put it over the top.

Trying to figure out all the right ingredients that go into a recipe is like a science. Once I found all the things that go into it, then I had to determine how much of each one I needed for the best taste and texture. You only need a handful of common ingredients for this dish including potatoes (of course), cream cheese, heavy cream, butter, chicken broth, onion, garlic, bacon, and some herbs.

I have to say, I think that this recipe is better than the original and you don’t even have to leave the house to get it. You can make this dreamy creamy soup at home in minutes. But I have to warn you! Your house will smell so delicious, it will be hard to hide it so make enough for everyone. Pair it with a slice (or two) of my soft and fluffy Amish white bread to soak it up.

This homemade soup is one of my favorites, as it is very similar to the potato soup that my grandmother makes. It is hearty and delicious. You can top it with lots of bacon and bonus points for serving it with some crusty, warm bread on the side.

What you’ll need to make Panera Bread baked potato soup copycat:

Special items:

  • Dutch oven – You can also use a heavy pot but I love my Le Creuset Dutch oven.
  • A wooden spoon – For stirring without damaging the pot.
  • Medium saucepan – To make the cream.

Ingredients

  • Olive oil – For sautéing the onion and garlic.
  • Sweet onion – I prefer a sweet yellow onion, diced, for the best flavor with just a little kick. 
  • Garlic cloves – Minced garlic cloves bring out the sweet and savory flavors of the garlic without the aftertaste.
  • Bacon bits – Add another layer of flavor to this creamy dish.
  • Potatoes – I use Yukon Gold potatoes for the creamy texture they have.
  • Dried parsley – The dried parsley has a more concentrated taste than fresh, so you only need a tiny bit.
  • Dried oregano – With this multiflavored herb, you get minty notes with the taste of hay, greens, and earthy spiciness.
  • Chicken broth – Adds a nice clean flavor to your soup.
  • Butter – Gives it a touch of creamy buttery taste.
  • Flour – For thickening. I use all-purpose for the best texture.
  • Heavy cream – This is one layer of the creaminess in this soup.
  • Cream cheese – The ultimate creamy texture and flavor for the best rich thickness.
  • Salt – Any kind of salt is fine for bringing out the other flavors. 
  • Ground black pepper – Freshly ground black pepper from peppercorns gives it a fresh clean bite of peppery flavor.

For garnish:

  • Cheddar cheese – Adds that gooey cheesy topping you cannot get with anything else.
  • Bacon bits – Make your own and pat it dry so it is not greasy for the best flavor.
  • Chives – To add a mild fresh onion flavor in every bite.

How to make Panera Bread baked potato soup?

  1. Saute the aromatics: Heat your Dutch oven on medium before adding the olive oil. When it is simmering, add the onion and cook for three minutes, stirring occasionally. Then, add the garlic and cook for another minute, stirring constantly.
  2. Add potatoes: Then, put in the potatoes, parsley, oregano, and bacon bits and stir. Cover with chicken broth and cook on medium heat for 12 to 15 minutes or until the potatoes are fork-tender.
  3. Make the sauce: In a medium saucepan, heat butter until it is melted, and then whisk in the flour until it is completely combined. Gradually, add the heavy cream, whisking often, until it is smooth. Cook on low until it simmers and gets thick while stirring occasionally. Pour the thickened sauce into the pot with the potatoes and stir.
  4. Mash the potatoes: Use a potato masher to mash part or all of the potatoes.
  5. Finish it up: Now, add the cream cheese and continue stirring until it is melted. If it is too thick, you can add a bit more chicken broth. Season, taste, and adjust as needed before you garnish and serve.

Expert tip

The best potatoes for baked potato soup

To make this soup as creamy as possible while still having potato chunks for texture, I prefer Yukon Gold. They are right in the middle as far as starchiness and waxiness, so they do both. You do not want a potato full of starch like russets or Idaho potatoes because they will turn to mush. But you also don’t want super waxy potatoes like red potatoes because they do not cream as well.

So, if you want the creamiest soup, use Yukon Golds. They will hold their shape better when cooking them, but they are also easy to cream when mashing or blending. Mixed with cream cheese and heavy cream, Yukon Golds are the perfect balance as far as I am concerned. You get a creamy base with tasty chunks of potato you can sink your teeth into.

Starchy potatoes mash well too but they will end up mushy no matter how careful you are. Then, you have no chunks of potato to bite into. After all, the potato is the star of this dish, so you want to be able to showcase it in every spoonful. The Yukon Gold potato is considered an all-purpose potato because it is a nice mixture of both starchiness and waxiness.

Other all-purpose potatoes will work too, such as white potatoes and fingerlings. For something different, use purple potatoes. Your soup will have an exotic purple color that makes it unique. Although, some purple potatoes can be grainy so make sure you test them first. Just boil them and try them before you make your soup no matter what kind of potatoes you are using.

Recipe variations and add-ins:

  • Add meat: For a hearty soup, add some chopped ham, turkey, or chicken to the pot.
  • Other cheese: Experiment with different types of cheese like mozzarella, shredded parmesan, and Colby jack. You could even try soft cheeses like feta, brie, and ricotta.
  • Spicy soup: Add a pinch of red pepper flakes for a spicy potato soup.
  • Sweet potato soup: Instead of regular potatoes, try this with sweet potatoes. This would be perfect for Thanksgiving dinner.
  • Add veggies: Give your soup more texture by adding chopped bell peppers, celery, corn, green beans, carrots, or whatever veggies you like. 

Serving suggestions:

  • Panera Bread serves their soups in bread bowls so can you with this easy bread bowl recipe or add some breadsticks on the side?
  • This soup is so thick, you can use it as a dip served with chips or veggie sticks.
  • Sandwiches are the perfect accompaniment to this soup for a quick, delicious lunch. Try it with Sloppy Joe sandwiches or these French Dip sandwiches. 
  • Any kind of salad would also be amazing alongside this hearty soup, I like mine with a light and filling chickpea salad.
  • Be sure to serve your soup with extra toppings like sour cream, avocado slices, tomatoes, and extra cheese.

Frequently asked questions

Do I need to peel my potatoes for potato soup?

The original baked potato soup from Panera Bread was made with peeled potatoes and so is mine. It is essential for the creaminess of the soup to peel them. However, if you want a more textured soup, you could leave the skins on. The rustic vibe goes well at a picnic or barbecue. But I prefer my baked potato soup extra creamy with no peels.

How do I cut potatoes for baked potato soup?

I like my potatoes diced as this recipe calls for. That way, they cook faster, are easier to mash, and allow for nice bite-sized pieces. First, peel your potatoes with a potato peeler or sharp paring knife. Then, cut them into long thin slices like French fries before chopping them crosswise into smaller pieces. For large dice, use ¾ inch cubes, ½ inch for medium dice, and ¼ inch for small dice.

Why is my Panera Bread baked potato soup runny?

It is possible that you added too much liquid for the number of potatoes you are using. Follow the ingredients exactly for the right ratio. It could also be that you did not use enough thickening cream. If you used light cream or instead of heavy or sour cream instead of cream cheese, you may also need to add some other thickener like cornstarch or potato starch.

Is there meat in the original Panera Bread baked potato soup?

The only meat that Panera Bread used in their baked potato soup was bacon bits. However, the celery juice powder contained a small bit of pork. Adding meat would be a great way to make this soup a full meal without even serving anything with it. Some of my favorite ideas are chopped ham, chicken, or turkey but you can also use beef, pork, or even sausage.

Is it safe to eat potato soup after it was left out overnight?

No perishable food is safe after being left out overnight. Stabilized bread, chips, and cookies are the only things I would feel safe eating after leaving them out. Bacteria grow quickly on food that is left out at room temperature. Even if you are planning to boil it before eating it again, I would not recommend it. So, if you forget to put it in the fridge for over two hours, pitch it and make some more.

Can you freeze baked potato soup?

Yes. I recommend using quart bags for this soup. Use a cup to transfer it from the pot into the bag. Squeeze out excess air and seal the bags. The bags can nicely be stored in the freezer for up to 3-4 months. To thaw it, remove it from the freezer the night before serving, or put the sealed soup bag in warm water to thaw it faster.

How to store:

  • Refrigerate: Put your leftover soup in a sealed container in the fridge where it will stay good for five days. 
  • Freezing: Anytime longer than a few days and it should be frozen. Pour it into quart freezer bags and squeeze out the excess air. They can be stored in the freezer for several months. 
  • Defrost: Put your frozen soup in the fridge overnight to thaw for the best flavor.
  • Reheating: Reheat in a pot on the stove for several minutes or in a bowl in the microwave for 60 to 90 seconds. 

Recipe tips:

  • Instead of using a potato masher, use an immersion blender or pour it into a food processor or blender to mash.
  • Only cook the potatoes until done, not mushy.
  • Mashing half (or more) of the potatoes gives this soup its irresistible creaminess.
  • You can use half and half and Greek yogurt instead of heavy cream and cream cheese for fewer calories and less fat.
  • To shorten prep time, you can use store-bought bacon bits. But it will not be as flavorful as fresh ones.
  • Peel and dice potatoes into small dice before cooking for the best texture and taste.

Looking for more comforting soup recipes? Check these out!

Panera Bread Baked Potato Soup

Panera Bread Baked Potato Soup Copycat is the famous chain's comforting soup made easy at home. Serve it topped with bacon and crusty bread.

  • Prep Time10 MIN
  • Cook Time30 MIN
  • Servings 6 servings
Panera Bread Baked Potato Soup Copycat is the famous chain's comforting soup made easy at home. Serve topped with bacon and crusty bread.

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium sweet onion diced
  • 4 garlic cloves minced
  • 1/2 cup cooked bacon bits or crumbs
  • 4 large Yukon potatoes scrubbed peeled and diced
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 4-6 cups low sodium chicken broth or more
  • 2 tablespoons butter unsalted
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 cup whole heavy cream or half and half
  • 4 ounces cream cheese or sour cream room temperature
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Garnish:

  • 2 teaspoons chives
  • 2 tablespoons of real bacon bits
  • Shredded cheddar cheese

Instructions

  • Add olive oil to a hot medium pot or Dutch oven over medium heat.
  • Add onion and cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Add garlic and cook until fragrant, for about 1 minute, stirring all the time.
  • Add potatoes, bacon bits, dried oregano, and dried parsley, and stir to combine.
  • Add chicken broth, enough to fully cover the potatoes. Cook on medium heat for about 12 to 15 minutes or until potatoes are tender when pierced with a fork.
  • Once the potatoes have cooked, add butter to a medium saucepan over medium heat and melt. Whisk in the flour until completely combined and gradually add in the heavy cream. Whisk the flour mixture until smooth. With the heat on the lowest stove setting, let the mixture cook until it starts to simmer and is getting thicker, stir occasionally.
  • Add the flour mixture to the potatoes and gently stir to combine.
  • Using a potato masher, mash half of the potatoes or as much as you want. You can also add the soup to a blender or use an immersion blender.
  • Add the cream cheese or sour cream, and stir until it melts.
  • If the soup is too thick, add more chicken broth.
  • Season with salt and black pepper. Taste and adjust.
  • Garnish with chives, bacon bits, and cheddar cheese. Serve and enjoy!

Nutrition Facts

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Comments

(43)
Sarah Schultz

Sarah Schultz

Do you prefer using cream cheese or the sour cream? I have both on hand and not sure which is better. Also if I don't have a potato masher can I just cut the potatoes into small cubes prior to cooking instead of using whole potatoes?


Catalina Castravet

Catalina Castravet

Hi Sarah, yes you can diced the potatoes into smaller pieces. I personally prefer the cream cheese.

Sandra

Sandra

Wonderful and so easy to make. Thanks

Melissa

Melissa

Family favorite! We make it for family game night!

Tracy

Tracy

I had leftover Christmas ham in the freezer so used about a cup or so of that instead of bacon. And tossed in some steamed broccoli to turn into a meal in itself. Really yummy!!!

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