This quick and easy broccoli cheese soup is thick and creamy and, of course, cheesy. It's the perfect for soup season or any time you need a little comfort food! I've also shared some easy substitutions you can make for a lighter, healthier version.
Why this Recipe Works
I think we all know and love Panera's Broccoli Cheddar Soup, but this homemade version is even better! It's loaded with fresh veggies and ooey gooey cheese and makes a hearty satisfying meal on a cold day.
My favorite part about making soup at home is that you can be sure you're getting high quality ingredients without cutting any corners. But probably best of all, you can have it ready in under 45 minutes. That's less than it would actually take to go to Panera and buy their soup!
- Cheddar Cheese
- Chicken broth - You can substitute vegetable broth for vegetarian broccoli cheese soup.
- Dry Mustard Powder
- Salt and Pepper
What Cheese to use for Broccoli Cheese Soup
For this broccoli cheese soup recipe use a good quality block of sharp cheddar cheese. I like to use yellow cheddar for the color. Make sure to grate the cheese yourself to get the best texture. Pre-shredded cheese is coated with cellulose to help prevent clumping, but that also prevents it from melting properly.
How to Make Homemade Broccoli Cheese Soup
- Melt your butter in a large dutch oven or stock pot then add the onion and cook for 3 to 4 minutes until softened. Add in the minced garlic and cook for another 30 to 45 seconds.
- Next make a roux to give the soup it's hearty, thick consistency. Add the flour and whisk until it is light golden brown, around 1-2 minutes. You don't want it too dark to avoid darkening the soup.
- Slowly add the chicken broth while whisking constantly. Then, keep whisking for around 30-45 seconds to keep it from clumping. Stir in your salt, pepper, and dry mustard.
- Add the chopped broccoli and grated carrots and stir then bring to a low simmer. Cover and reduce the heat to low. Cook for 20 minutes until the broccoli is softened.
- Add the half-and-half then stir in your cheddar cheese until it's all melted. Taste and season with additional salt and pepper if desired.
- Optional - If you prefer a smooth texture you can transfer the soup to a blender and blend until you reach your desired consistency.
Storage and freezing instructions
This soup will keep in the refrigerator for 3 days. After cooking allow the soup to cool and transfer to a storage container and refrigerate. Reheat the soup in a saucepan over medium-low heat until warmed through or in the microwave.
This soup does not freeze very well because of the added dairy. If you plan to freeze the soup you can make as directed through step two. Then allow it to cool and transfer to a storage container and freeze for up to 3 months. When you are ready to use the soup thaw it and cook on the stove top over medium-low heat until it reaches a low simmer the add in the half-and-half and cheese.
Healthier Broccoli Cheese Soup
We'd all like to think broccoli cheese soup is healthy since it's got broccoli in the name right? Unfortunately the cheese, butter, and half-and-half that make this soup rich and creamy also add a lot of calories and fat. To make a skinny broccoli cheese soup and still get a nice creamy texture we can make a few substitutions.
We will replace half of the butter with olive oil, swap the half-and-half for whole milk, and use reduced fat cheese. We will and add in 1 small russet potato to help replicate the texture. This method is a little more effort and will take just a little longer to cook since we'll blend the soup half way through.
Follow the steps as directed but replace 2 tablespoons of the butter with 2 tablespoons of olive oil when cooking your onion. When it's time to add the broccoli, only add 2 cups and reserve the other 2 for later. Also at this time add 1 small peeled and chopped russet potato. Cook for 15 minutes until the vegetables are tender.
Transfer the soup to a blender and blend until smooth then return to the pot and add the rest of your broccoli. Cook for another 15 minutes until the broccoli is soft. Then add in whole milk in place of the half-and-half and reduced fat cheddar cheese.
Adding the potato and blending the soup will help replicate the texture and richness you get with the normal ingredients and you'll still get the chunky pieces of broccoli with the second cooking phase. These simple substitutions knock off 110 calories and 17 grams of fat per serving but it's still a delicious thick and creamy bowl of soup!
Easy Broccoli Cheddar Soup
- 4 Tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 small onion, diced
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- ¼ cup all-purpose flour
- 2 cups half-and-half
- 3 cups low-sodium chicken broth, or vegetable broth
- ½ teaspoon dry mustard
- ½ teaspoon Kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- 4 cups broccoli florets, about 1 head, chopped
- 1 large carrot, grated
- 2 ½ cups (about 8 ounces) grated sharp cheddar cheese , plus more for garnish
- Melt the butter in a large dutch oven or stock pot over medium heat. Add the onion and cook for 3-4 minutes until softened, stirring occasionally. Add the garlic and cook for 30-45 seconds, stirring constantly, until fragrant. Whisk in the flour and cook for 1-2 minutes until light golden brown.
- Slowly add the chicken broth while whisking, and continue whisking for 30-45 seconds. Add the broccoli and carrots and stir in the salt, pepper, and dry mustard. Cover and reduce heat to medium-low to low and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the broccoli is tender.
- Add the half-and-half then stir in the cheese until melted. Season with additional salt and pepper to taste then serve in bowls and garnish with additional cheese.
* All nutrition information we provide are estimates based on third party calculators. We encourage you to calculate these on your own for accurate results.
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