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Did Panera change their soups?

Panera Bread is a popular bakery-cafe chain known for its freshly made soups. Many loyal Panera customers have noticed changes to the soup recipes and ingredients over the years and wonder if the soups have changed. This article will examine if and how Panera soups have changed by looking at customer reviews, ingredients, and nutritional information.

Customer Reviews on Changes

Reviews from Panera customers online suggest that the soups have changed in recent years. On sites like Yelp, Reddit, and food blogs, Panera patrons have complained that the soups taste more processed, have less meat and veggies, and lack the fresh flavors of the past. Some of the common soups that customers say have changed include the broccoli cheddar, baked potato, chicken noodle, and creamy tomato soups.

Here are some examples of customer reviews mentioning changes to Panera soups:

“The broccoli cheddar soup used to be my favorite but the last 2 times I’ve gotten it, it’s been so bland and watery. What happened to the thick creamy soup loaded with broccoli??”

“The chicken noodle soup is nowhere near as good as it used to be. Way less chicken, carrots, and celery. Sad because this used to be the best chicken noodle soup.”

“Their baked potato soup changed from a thick hearty potato soup to a lifeless gloppy mess. Like eating potato flavored paste. Used to love that soup.”

Based on the volume of these complaints over the past few years, it’s clear many Panera customers feel the soups have declined in quality and changed recipes.

Ingredients List Changes

Analyzing the ingredients lists of popular Panera soups from a few years ago compared to now also shows some changes that indicate recipe tweaks.

For example, the old broccoli cheddar soup contained ingredients like broccoli florets, carrots, onions, celery, heavy cream, cheese, and seasonings. The new recipe has many of the same ingredients but substitutes canola oil for some of the heavy cream. It also has modified food starch, which is likely used as a thickening agent instead of relying on the cream and cheese as much.

The baked potato soup appears to have reduced bacon, potato, and heavy cream content based on the ingredients order and contains milk, chicken stock, and food starch now.

Some soups like the creamy tomato have added preservatives like potassium sorbate in recent years as well.

So while Panera states they continue to make soups fresh in house daily, the ingredient lists confirm they have tweaked recipes, likely to cut costs or increase shelf life. This supports customer claims that soups taste more “processed” lately.

Nutrition Changes

Looking at the nutrition information of Panera soups from a few years back compared to now also reveals some differences:

Soup Serving Size Calories (Old) Calories (New) Fat (Old) Fat (New) Sodium (Old) Sodium (New)
Broccoli Cheddar 12 oz 450 370 32g 24g 980mg 790mg
Baked Potato 12 oz 280 230 10g 6g 680mg 620mg
Chicken Noodle 12 oz 140 110 5g 3.5g 980mg 830mg

The nutrition profiles show some soups have decreased in calories, fat, and sodium over the past few years. This aligns with the ingredient list changes and indicates lighter recipes. The sodium levels remain high but have dropped in some soups. The lower fat and calories likely contribute to the thinner, less creamy texture many customers complain about.

Possible Reasons for Soup Changes

So why would Panera change up their popular soup recipes that customers loved so much? There are a few possible reasons:

– To cut costs. Ingredients like heavy cream, bacon, potatoes, and chicken are expensive compared to substitutes like canola oil, flour, and seasonings. Reducing or replacing key ingredients saves money.

– To increase shelf life. Using preservatives, lower fat, and more stabilizers lets the soups last longer after cooking without impacting quality as much. This reduces food waste.

– To align with health trends. Consumers want lighter, fresher soups with less sodium and fat.Updating recipes to be more wholesome helps attract health-conscious diners.

– To streamline operations. Standardizing recipes across locations is easier with simpler, less variable ingredient lists. This improves consistency.

– To boost profitability. Small tweaks to cut costs while still using wholesome marketing language allows Panera to widen profit margins on soups. Customers pay the same prices while soups cost less to make now.

While Panera has not openly admitted to intentionally changing recipes to reduce costs or quality, it is a reasonable assumption based on the evidence. Their soup recipe “enhancements” have likely contributed to higher profit margins.

Has Panera Responded to Customer Complaints?

With so many customer complaints about the soup changes online in recent years, has Panera responded or tried to address the issue?

Here are a few ways Panera has reacted:

– Denying changes. Panera has maintained their stance that soups are made fresh in house daily and no recipes have changed. They insist they still use high quality ingredients.

– Blaming suppliers. Some Panera employees have said changes in certain soup vegetables like broccoli or carrots from suppliers may have altered tastes slightly.

– Offering excuses. When directly challenged about recipe changes, Panera has cited reasons like supply chain issues or evaluation of ingredients to be more wholesome as necessary over time.

– Ignoring complaints. For the most part, Panera has not engaged with customers online complaining about the soups. They seem to hope complaints die down rather than address changes.

So unfortunately, Panera has not taken ownership of the apparent recipe adjustments or tried to improve soups back to their previous quality in response to criticism. Their denial leaves loyal customers feeling dismissed and unsatisfied.

How Customers Can Voice Opinions

Since Panera has not been receptive to customer complaints online, what options do soup lovers have to voice concerns or opinions about the changes?

– Write reviews. Leave honest, constructive reviews on sites like Yelp, Google Maps/Business, TripAdvisor, etc mentioning the soup decline. Be specific on flavors, textures, ingredients missed.

– Send feedback to corporate. Panera has an online contact form at Send a detailed complaint explaining why you are unsatisfied with soup changes.

– Tweet @ them. Reach out to Panera on Twitter at @panerabread to share soup feedback. Handle criticism publicly.

– Call or email stores. Connect directly with store managers to complain about soup quality declines. Corporate may not listen, but local stores want to please customers.

– Request old recipes. Politely ask store or corporate if they can share when recipes changed and if they can revert back to older formulations.

– Order soups less. Unfortunately voting with your wallet may be the most powerful way to send a message to Panera. Ordering soups less often shows sales impact of worse recipes.

The more customers who speak up constructively about the soup changes, the more pressure Panera corporate may feel to address the issue and improve quality. Silent defections from once loyal patrons will get their attention fastest.

Should You Keep Eating Panera Soups?

Given the apparent recipe downgrades, should you keep eating soups at Panera? Here are some pros and cons:

– Convenient option for meals on the go
– Nutritious low calorie, low fat options
– Freshly made in stores daily
– Lower sodium than many competitors
– Ingredients still wholesome despite changes

– Recipes not as tasty as they used to be
– Less protein, veggies, and creaminess
– Preservatives and stabilizers added
– Higher cost for diminished quality
– Company not transparent about changes

On one hand, Panera soups are still a fast casual healthier meal option using decent ingredients. But the diminished tastes, textures, and recipe integrity compared to before may not justify the prices.

Customers who prioritize quality, transparency, and honest communication around food may choose to dine elsewhere until Panera addresses the issues. However those less concerned with minor recipe tweaks can still enjoy the soups.


Based on a thorough analysis of customer reviews, ingredients lists, nutrition data, and Panera’s response to criticism, it seems clear the restaurant has made intentional but stealthy changes to reduce costs and boost profit margins on popular soups in recent years. This has degraded the soups’ flavor, texture, and quality in the opinion of many once loyal patrons. While still using mostly wholesome ingredients, Panera does not seem receptive to feedback about the soup declines and has lost trust among some customers. Diners will ultimately decide with their taste buds and wallets whether they want to keep buying the altered Panera soups or take their soup cravings elsewhere until the company improves quality and transparency around their recipes.