I am a huge fan of Panera. Unfortunately for me, my husband isn’t such a fan and so I don’t get to go nearly as often as I’d like.   I remember when Paneras were first popping up, back when I was in high school. My go-to order was the Sierra Turkey sandwich and kettle chips. Every time.  And then I’d often wrap the meal up with one of those cobblestone pastry things. This was all before children, before my metabolism slowed down, of course. Now I must go for their healthier options, which are still pretty stinking good. (And of course I’ll still sneak a few bites of my kids’ mac and cheese … love that stuff too).
A few months ago, I tried Panera’s lentil and quinoa broth bowl and absolutely loved it. It’s been on my mind since then to try to recreate it at home. The broth is what makes this dish. It’s full of that umami flavor that I’ve come to love so much. I figured I could accomplish it with either miso paste or sofrito (a kind of tomato paste), but ended up going with miso to tie with the other Asian flavors that were prevalent in the soup.
I’ll admit that this recipe does contain some ingredients that the typical person may not have on hand. Some of it you can probably substitute. No gochujang? Use siracha or even red pepper flakes. No mushroom broth? Use another kind of broth. No agave? Use honey or brown sugar.
The ingredients you shouldn’t mess with? The miso, the soy sauce, the sesame oil and the lemon.
Next time I think I’ll make extra broth and freeze it so that I can throw this dish together even quicker. And maybe try soba noodles and flank steak as the fixin’s… yum!
Panera-Inspired Quinoa Lentil Broth Bowls (meat optional)
Makes 4 small servings or 2 large servings
For the broth
1 cup of mushroom broth
2 cups of water
1 1/2  tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp ginger
1 1/2 tsp gochujang
2 tsp sesame oil
1 tbsp miso paste
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tsp agave nectar (or honey)
Juice of one lemon (do not skip this!)
1/2 cup quinoa, rinsed
1/2 cup lentils, rinsed and picked over
1 cup mushroom broth
1 cup water
1 smashed garlic glove
1 bay leaf
2 cups chopped kale
6 oz. thinly sliced chicken, optional
lemon slices for garnish
DirectionsFirst, assemble the broth. In a medium saucepan, mix together all ingredients except for the lemon juice. Simmer for 20-30 minutes.

In another small or medium sauce pan, add mushroom broth and water, garlic clove and bay leaf. Add rinsed quinoa and cook on low heat for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, add the lentils.
Cook for another 15-20 minutes, until all liquid is absorbed by the quinoa and lentils. Remove the bay leaf and garlic clove.
Add chopped kale to the broth and cook until just wilted. Add lemon juice to broth.
To serve, place a scoop of the quinoa and lentil mixture into a bowl and top with broth. Add chicken, if using. Garnish with lemon slices.