When I was in middle school, a Panera Bread opened in town. I remember spending multiple half-days downtown, wandering in and out of shops, and most lunches were enjoyed at Panera. You could usually find me with a bacon turkey bravo sandwich, or a bread bowl filled with creamy chicken and wild rice soup. And you can’t forget about the chocolate chip bagels – I had never encountered such a treat before! It was the first place I went after I got my braces off sophomore year of high school, and where I went for lunch after getting a cast for breaking my finger. It’s a place I was very familiar with, but over the last few years, fell out of favor.
So, when I was asked if I would be interested in taking a trip to review their soups, I was more than happy to reacquaint myself with Panera. One thing I remembered, and really like, is that their soup selections change depending on the day. Since it’s listed on their website and it’s the same each week, it’s easy to keep track and visit on your favorite soup days! One of my best friends from high school was obsessed with their baked potato soup, so I remember we always had to go on Fridays so she could get it. As a serious planner, I appreciate that knowledge ahead of time!
Being new to the world of full-fledged vegetarianism, I’m always happy to see when restaurants label things as vegetarian (as well as gluten free and dairy free)… it helps make things easier. With their easy to spot labeling, I knew right away which soups I could (and couldn’t) enjoy. So I set my sights on the low-fat vegetarian black bean soup – the plump beans simmered in a mildly spicy broth was just what I needed. I’d be lying if I didn’t say that my expectations weren’t high, simply because most black beans soups I’ve had while dining out have been less than fantastic… they’re usually on the watery side and far from generous when it comes to the black beans. This soup, however, was a pleasant surprise.
I paired the soup with their Mediterranean veggie sandwich (I had to go with the “You Pick Two!”), and it was a completely satisfying and delicious meal. It was just the push I needed to make my visits to Panera more frequent. I’m hooked on that black bean soup! And, the veggie sandwich was just the right amount of crisp vegetables, dressing, and feta cheese. And besides, who doesn’t love soup in a sourdough bread bowl? I can’t wait to head back to try out more soup – their creamy tomato soup and new grilled cheese is calling my name!
Have you been to Panera? What’s your favorite item?
Soup lover? Share your favorite soups!
Disclaimer: I was sent a gift card to try Panera’s soup and write about it. All thoughts & opinons are my own.