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What To Order: Panera

Posted Dec 12 2012 7:35pm

I tend to avoid eating out unless it’s part of my 10% – but while I love making soups from scratch because I can control the ingredients, I also love eating them out.  On a cold day when I don’t have time to make my lunch, soup is a fabulous lunch option.

Eating a diet free of allergens can be somewhat restricting when eating out but I believe that there is always a healthy choice to be made.  And although it may not be perfect, it can get pretty darn close.  So when the folks at Panera invited me to try their soups, I was up for the challenge.

So what can an allergen free gal eat at a place that’s known for bread?  The ingredients can be easily found on their site  and I narrowed down my choices to the following soups:

Garden Vegetable with Pesto (ask for no pesto to avoid dairy)
Garden vegetable soup (water, tomatoes, yellow wax beans, zucchini, onions, barley [may contain wheat], cauliflower, red bell pepper, Swiss chard, seasoning, tomato concentrate, tomato paste, basil), basil pesto (basil, canola oil, water, romano cheese, extra virgin olive oil, chopped garlic, salt).

Vegetarian Black Bean 
Low fat black bean soup (water, black beans [may contain soy], onions, celery, vegetable base [cooked vegetables {carrot, celery, onion}, tomato paste, corn oil, yeast extract, potato flour, salt, onion powder, garlic powder, natural flavoring], red peppers, modified food starch, salt, spices, lemon juice, garlic powder).

These guys aren’t perfectly free of gluten, but they are free of dairy (just order the veggie soup pesto free).  Heads up:  beware of the label “low-fat” which usually means it’s full of salt or sugar to make it taste good.  The sodium levels of these soups are certainly on the high side, but not egregious if you watch our salt consumption for the rest of the day.

I decided on the garden vegetable soup both because I make a mean black bean soup at home, and because today was Wednesday and only the garden vegetable was offered.  And it was completely satisfying on a cold day.

hot & comforting

I also enjoyed that each spoonful was chock full of veggies.


Not too shabby for a place with “bread” in the title.

Disclosure:  As part of the DailyBuzz Food Community, I received a stipend and gift card for Panera soups .  The opinions in this post are purely my own.

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