After all the fast food we have been eating recently, we decided to try to focus on reviewing something healthier. Or at least something that pretends to be healthy; and what pretends to be healthy other than Panera? Luckily for us, they recently introduced two new items: the Thai Chicken Soup and the Citrus Asian Crunch Salad with Chicken.
Thai Chicken Soup
The Thai chicken soup is described as a “delicious mix of authentic global flavors featuring chicken, carrots, shiitake mushrooms, red bell peppers and edamame simmered in a rich, Thai yellow coconut curry broth with lemongrass, ginger, galangal, and lime peel,” on the Panera website. It will cost you $8.19 plus tax for a bowl or $6.59 plus tax for a cup (you can also get a bread bowl, like we did, for $8.39 plus tax).
Oh my god, was this soup good. We got one bowl for the two of us, and I’m not going to lie, I didn’t want to share it with John. I have to say that I do love yellow curry, so this soup is right up my alley. This is probably my favorite Panera item now. The soup has a very slight kick to it, but it really isn’t strong. The only bad thing about it are the mushrooms, ugh, why did they have to add mushrooms (I don’t like mushrooms, in case you couldn’t tell). This doesn’t seem like an item that Panera would have but boy was it a good addition. Before, my favorite Panera soup was the tomato soup, but when I found out that their soups are frozen, I learnt to make my own. This soup is worth overlooking the fact that it comes frozen. Unfortunately, this is definitely going to be a hard soup to recreate at home. Regardless, if you’re ever in Panera, you should definitely try this soup! Overall, I would rate this soup a nine out of 10, and definitely look forward to getting it again.
I’m not sure why, but basically throughout all of my life, I have associated Panera with great-tasting food that is overpriced and they also do not give you much of it. In fact, I usually find myself still hungry while leaving the restaurant.
With that being said, I honestly think that this soup was fantastic! Generally, I’m a big fan of curries, and this has almost an identical flavor profile. In terms of spiciness, I actually disagree with Sasha. I think that this dish was a bit more spicy than “very slight,” though it was not inedible as a result. A very pleasant amount of spice. I totally recommend eating it with either the baguettes that you can get as a side or a bread bowl, some type of bread that you can dip into it. This is mostly because the flavor can be a bit intense if you just eat the soup by itself. Overall though, very delicious soup and it has exactly the kind of flavor profile that I like, so I would give this around an eight out of 10!
Citrus Asian Crunch Salad with Chicken
The Citrus Asian Crunch Salad with Chicken is described as a ”romaine and a blend of chopped broccoli, green cabbage, carrots, and kale tossed with edamame, pickled red onions, and fresh cilantro in tangerine soy ginger dressing and topped with warm seared chicken thigh meat, crispy carrots, and a teriyaki drizzle,” on the Panera website. It will cost you $12.19 plus tax for a whole or $8.89 plus tax for a half.
I can’t say anywhere near as many good things about the salad as I did about the soup. The salad was pretty good, it definitely had interesting flavors. I really liked the dressing, especially the tangerine undertones, though I’d be careful with how much of it you put on the salad: its strong flavor might overtake the flavors of everything else in the salad. I can’t say I found the carrots “crispy” though, but that didn’t make them taste worse. The teriyaki chicken was pretty good too, however I really wish it was breast meat instead of thighs. The only thing I wouldn’t add next time is the edamame, those weren’t great. Overall, this is a solid salad, I would rate it 7.5 out of 10. I probably wouldn’t get it again, just because there are definitely better salads to choose from at Panera.
I’ve gotta agree with Sasha on this one. Honestly, I would not consider myself to be the biggest salad eater in the first place but I definitely will enjoy a good Caesar salad or a Greek salad. With that preface aside, I genuinely feel that there was too much going on in this salad. There were so many different flavors and toppings on a single salad that it was hard to get an appreciable flavor profile: it changed almost every single bite! Between the teriyaki sauce, the citrus flavor, pickled red onions and many other toppings it was hard to get a consistent idea of what this salad was supposed to taste like. Either way, I was not a big fan of this salad in particular, so I would give it a six out of 10.