I have never been a fan of Panera. I think once you get to a certain size, it becomes more about the bottom line and less about the products that got you there. It's an economy of scales, that I'm sure at one time were in their favor....now, this decidedly isn't so. Thanks for the story.
Agreed! I'm positive it tasted better ten years ago. While I hate to be a food snob and look down my nose at chain restaurants... the fact is, the products are often inferior in both taste and quality.
I've never been to a Panera, but feel the same way about another much beloved company where I live. They put so much cornstarch in their soup that the texture is goopy, not creamy. And making your own soup can be so cheap and easy! Your chicken soup looks great.
That's such a good way to phrase it: goopy, not creamy. And when it sits in warming trays for hours and hours, the texture suffers all the more!
I have eaten at Panera many times because it was near a place I worked. I really enjoyed it. I would not fool myself into thinking that these soups were made from scratch - Panera is a giant chain. In any case, I found them to be palatable as was the bread. (I always asked for the bread coolie...It's my favorite part.) Next time you make that corn & poblano chowder, try thickening it with masa harina. It thickens beautifully and really intensifies the corn flavor. The only really "bad" experience I had at Panera involved customers, not the food. Two idiots who were studying for a test were drilling one another on the subject matter. This would not have been so bad were the subject matter NOT Venereal Disease - including descriptions, symptoms, ooze and other conversation NOT appropriate for a place where people eat. I asked them to stop. They did.
Their bread is awesome! Thanks for the tip re: masa harina. I'm definitely going to give that a try next time, and maybe make tamales with the rest. And that's super gross about the other Panera customers. There's a time and place to be talking about ooze, and that's not while eating creamy chicken soup from Panera! haha
Well written! My elderly parents always want to meet at Panera. It's carb-overload; especially for breakfast when their choices are very limited. I keep trying to take them someplace better, but with no luck so far.Signed,Trapped at Panera