Panera Bread – one of my absolutely favorite places to eat – has introduced a new group of meals to their menu. They are called broth bowls.
Being the slightly (cough) OCD person that I am, before I decided to try it, I had to do some research. Apparently broth bowls are very popular in the Asian culture – particularly Japan. They are much thicker then soup – the broth is there to keep things moist.
Broth bowls are traditionally served with a large spoon and to noisily and obnoxiously SLURP while you eat them is considered a compliment.
Panera has 4 new broth bowls: Soba Noodle with Chicken, Soba Noodle with Edamame, Lentil Quinoa with Chicken or Lentil Quinoa with Egg. The range in calories from 370-410,
I had never eaten a Soba noodle in my life, so, of course, I had to look that up too! They are made mostly with buckwheat and have relatively comparable nutrition to pasta.
Since we eat lentils and quinoa all the time, I decided to live life on the edge and ordered the Soba Noodle with Chicken.
This is what the plate looked like when it was served:
As you can see, it’s not the consistency of soup. In additional to the soba noodles and chicken, it has spinach, mushrooms, cabbage and a variety of spices.
I spread it out using my extra large spoon.
There is a generous portion of chicken and a ton of noodles. A nice amount of spinach perfectly wilted, and some crunchy cabbage blend was also there. The mushrooms tasted completely fresh and were delicious, but they were few and far between.
Since I am a complete wuss, and noticing some of the spices like paprika and red chili powder, I asked the woman who took my order if the bowl was at all spicy and she assured me that it was not. However, for me? It did have a bit of a kick to it.
The broth was extremely tasty and hearty and I felt it had the exact right amount.
The soba noodles were a challenge to eat with the spoon. I am wondering if the Japanese use chopsticks for it – I would guess so.
But how were they? OH MY DELICIOUS!! They were MUCH chewier and had a more dry and nutty taste than pasta. I instantly liked the texture and taste much better than, say, spaghetti.
I paired mine with the French baguette (don’t judge me!!) instead of the (healthier) choice of an apple or the (unhealthier) choice of potato chips.
I found it very filling and was not at all hungry for the rest of the afternoon. This might be because the dish has the wonderful number of 31 grams of protein!!
So, all in all, I loved it. I will definitely be trying the lentil dish, although I loved the soba noodles so much, it’s going to be a challenge to get me away from those! I’m going to try finding them locally or on Amazon to make at home.
The downside of all the broth bowls? They are ridiculously high in sodium. I don’t have to worry about that, but I know a lot of people do.
4 1/2 out of 5 stars for me!!