Comforting and creamy broccoli cheddar soup is a fan-favorite at Panera Bread! It's quick to make at home and perfect for those cold weather evenings!
Brian usually isn’t a soup person. At. All.
But amazingly he ate three whole bowls of this broccoli cheese soup last night.
In fact, when I told him that I had to wait for the storm to pass before taking photos today, he was all disappointed. “So that means I can’t eat the rest?”
if that doesn’t tell you this is a great recipe, I don’t know what will.
I want you to keep this broccoli cheddar soup in your pocket for this winter guys. I know we don’t get much cold down here (though we were under 30 degrees F last winter in South Florida), but I want to make sure you guys have some good hot soup because the Farmers’ Almanac says it’s going to be super cold this year.
Keep those tootsies toasty, y’all.
How to make broccoli cheese soup
This soup is rich, creamy, cheesy, full of the good stuff. I love making Panera Bread copycat recipes (like their white cheddar mac and cheese and the chipotle chicken panini), and I think broccoli cheese is the best soup at Panera.
In a large pot or Dutch oven, we melt butter and sauté some finely diced yellow onions and garlic (or garlic powder if you're in a pinch).
Add flour to make a roux.
Then whisk in your stock about ¼ cup to ½ cup at a time. You can swap the chicken broth with vegetable stock if you’re vegetarian.
You could replace the half and half with evaporated milk, too, which actually can stop your cheese soup from becoming too thick when it starts cooling down as you’re eating. Or replace it with heavy cream if you want that rich, comforting soup experience.
This all comes to a simmer to cook the broccoli and shredded carrots through.
Melt your cheese, season to taste, and serve nice and hot. I love eating this along with a French Dip Sandwich, this is a great 'sandwich soup'.
What is in broccoli cheddar soup?
The ingredients are all wholesome, good stuff.
- Frozen broccoli in a steam bag
- Grated carrots
- Yellow onion
- Chicken stock
- Olive oil and butter
- Half and Half
- Cheddar Cheese
And that's it!
The reason I use frozen broccoli that has been partially steamed is so the carrots, which are thinly shredded, and the bigger broccoli florets are cooked and ready at the same time. If you’re using fresh broccoli, make sure to cut the florets into very small, bite-sized pieces so they cook quickly.
If you want to make the soup super smooth, use an immersion blender or a good, high powered blender to break down the broccoli and carrot pieces.
Add cheddar cheese to the hot soup once off the heat so the cheese doesn’t overheat and become grainy and separated. Add salt and pepper, maybe a little cayenne, red pepper flakes, or smoked paprika, and serve.
The best part is that this all takes about 20 minutes, and you can serve it in a bread bowl! Who doesn’t love creamy, cheesy soup in a bread bowl?
WHAT MAKES THIS BROCCOLI Cheddar SOUP RECIPE THE BEST? It's faster and easier to make!
Your broccoli is already steamed somewhat (because we’re using those steam-bag ones!) so that ‘green’, kinda bitter flavor that broccoli and other vegetables from the cruciferae family have won’t have time to infuse into the soup with the other flavors.
The soup is hearty, creamy, and incredibly flavorful; make sure you use really flavorful chicken stock because the flavor of the chicken stock itself is a basic part of making the broccoli cheddar soup delicious. You won’t get the same flavor if you just used water or only milk, it’ll turn out bland.
And the cheese y’all. As I always say when using cheese in soups and sauces: grate your own, and add it into your soup over low (or no) heat.
The cellulose dust on pre-shredded cheese makes it more difficult to melt cheese, and sharp cheddar is a harder cheese so it’s a little more finicky when it melts and if you make the cheese too hot, it can break and get grainy and gross in your soup.
If you want to use mild cheddar, American cheese, Velveeta, Colby, or whatever melts easier for you, do it! It’s your broccoli cheese soup, honey. You're the boss.
Is Broccoli Cheese Soup healthy?
With a good amount of half and half, cheddar cheese, butter, and flour, I would say broccoli cheese soup is not the healthiest of soups. But you can replace a few ingredients to make it healthier.
You can make it gluten-free by replacing the flour with cassava flour or even arrowroot powder. If you’re worried about the half and half and butter, use your favorite non-dairy milk and olive oil instead.
Now you know how to make Panera’s broccoli cheddar soup without paying Panera Bread prices.
Other Fantastic Soups I Love
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- 3 tbsp unsalted butter
- 1 tbsp (15 ml) olive oil
- ½ medium yellow onion, small diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 carrots, peeled and shredded by a box grater
- ¼ cup (50 g) all-purpose flour
- 2 cups (475 ml) chicken stock
- 1 ½-2 cups (350-475 ml) half and half
- 2-3 cups frozen broccoli florets in a steamable bag, partially steamed, chopped into bite-sized pieces
- 1 cup sharp (or mild) cheddar cheese, grated
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- ¼ tsp paprika
- ¼ tsp cayenne pepper
- Salt and pepper to taste
- In a large soup pot or Dutch oven, melt the butter with the olive oil over medium heat. Saute the diced onion in the fat for 5-6 minutes, or until the onions are translucent. At this point add garlic and let cook for one minute.
- Add in flour, and whisk together to cook out the raw flour, about a minute or so, to make a roux. Make sure to whisk constantly so the flour doesn't stick to the bottom.
- Gradually add the chicken stock to your roux, about ¼ cup at a time, whisking constantly. It will seize up before it gets smooth, so don't worry if it looks clumpy as you whisk in the stock. Finish adding in the stock, then pour in the half and half. Whisk to combine with the chicken stock, then turn the heat up to medium-high until soup begins to come to a lively simmer.
- Once the soup starts to bubble a little, add the partially steamed broccoli and shredded carrots to the pot. Let cook for 5-10 minutes, or until both the broccoli and carrots are completely tender. If you want a smooth soup, puree either some or the entire pot of soup with an immersion blender before adding the cheese.
- Turn the heat off, and add the cheddar cheese to your soup. Stir it in well then season with salt, cayenne, paprika and pepper to taste, then serve hot.
If you are new to melting cheeses, sharper or harder cheeses like sharp cheddar can separate when exposed to high heat. To avoid separation (that grainy, oiliness that happens when the cheese is overheated) make sure to remove the pot from the heat before adding your cheese, stirring in small handfuls at a time. You can also add American cheese along with the cheddar, which has ingredients that helps cheese melt better.
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Nutrition Information:Yield: 6 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 410Total Fat: 29gSaturated Fat: 16gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 11gCholesterol: 79mgSodium: 822mgCarbohydrates: 27gFiber: 6gSugar: 9gProtein: 15g
Eden Westbrook is the recipe developer, writer, and photographer behind Sweet Tea and Thyme. A classically trained chef, Eden has inspired home cooks into the kitchen with cultural comfort foods, easy family-friendly eats and sweets, and glorious spreads for date night and entertaining since 2015.