Easy Broccoli Cheddar Soup
Rich and cheesy, this Copycat Panera Broccoli Cheddar Soup recipe is a great addition to your weekly meal rotation. Quick and easy to make, it’s creamy, salty and packed with bite sized pieces of broccoli creating a filling meal perfect for chilly evenings.
This post was originally published October 2016 and updated with new photos and improved recipe February 2020.
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It’s about the middle of winter and I still don’t know how to dress myself. Today is 60 degrees and sunny, yesterday was a balmy 30 degrees and cloudy. So, I’ve been dressing in layers and searching out the best soup possible to help my body moderate it’s temperature. Because Mother Nature does not know how to winter properly.
These are the days I like to have an easy soup recipe to come home to that doesn’t take hours to make, isn’t loaded with processed ingredients and isn’t from my local chain restaurant like this Creamy Broccoli Cheddar Soup.
One of our favorite stand-bys here in my house is this easy Sausage Soup that’s ready in minutes. I’ve been making it for years and, basically, rotating it in and out of our weekly line up with this simple Chicken Noodle Soup and, now, Broccoli Cheese Soup.
EASY BROCCOLI CHEDDAR SOUP
If you’ve ever visited Panera Bread, they have an amazing Broccoli Cheddar Soup that’s rich and creamy and makes me feel like I’m a little weighted down, possibly needing a nap, after a big bowl. It’s one of our favorite take out soups and we actually order it quite a bit when there’s not even a spare minute to cook.
I wanted a Healthy Broccoli Cheddar Soup I could make at home in about the same time it takes me to drive to my local Panera. This soup may not be super healthy but it’s definitely healthier than the take out version.
My homemade Broccoli Cheddar Soup has the same rich, cheesy flavor but is loaded with broccoli and carrots (so much that my husband even commented how skimpy the take out soup was when it came to broccoli.) All those veggies are quickly cooked so you have tons of vitamins, minerals and FIBER! You know, nature’s broom. So, overall, this Broccoli Cheese Soup is much healthier for you!
HOW TO MAKE IT
This easy Broccoli Cheese Soup is….well, super easy to make.
I started with some fresh veggies and homemade chicken stock. You can use store-bought but be sure to use low-sodium because that’s just the healthy thing to do and I’m trying to keep us all skinny because summer is coming, believe it or not.
This broccoli soup recipe is not loaded with butter and cream….but there is cheese so it’s super delicious and you may not want to share with anyone. I replaced the heavy cream called for in many other recipes with half and half because it’s still rich but less calories.
The recipe makes a ton so you can share and still have a ton left for just you. You and your fluffy sweaters on a chilly night when you’re watching Ross and Rachel just take a break for the 47 thousandth time.
HOW TO THICKEN BROCCOLI CHEDDAR SOUP
To be honest, this Broccoli Cheddar Soup is plenty thick because of all the veggies being pureed into the stock with an immersion blender (this is the one I have) BUT if you want it to be even thicker, you can add a bit more cornstarch than called for in the recipe. I’d go for an additional tablespoon.
If you don’t want to add cornstarch or flour, and don’t really mind increasing the calories….you can replace the half and half with heavy cream for a much richer, thicker consistency.
HOW LONG DOES IT LAST
You can store your broccoli cheddar soup in the refrigerator for up to 5 days in an airtight container. When you reheat the soup, you will need to stir vigorously to help the soup come together because there may some separation.
I don’t recommend freezing your broccoli cheddar soup because dairy tends to become grainy when it thaws. It’s best to just eat your soup while it’s fresh or after a short stint in the refrigerator.
HOW TO MAKE IT VEGETARIAN OR GLUTEN FREE
If you want a vegetarian version of this Broccoli Soup, simply swap out the chicken stock for vegetable stock.
For a gluten free Broccoli Cheese Soup, be sure to use cornstarch and not flour for your roux when mixing up the vegetables. This soup recipe is already naturally gluten free.
- To avoid your soup from becoming grainy, be sure your heat is not too high when adding the cheese and add the cheese one handful at at time being mindful to allow the cheese to melt fully before adding more. If your cheese begins to separate, there is no turning back. High heat causes the protein in the cheese to constrict and squeeze out the fat which in turn leads to curdling and a grainy soup.
- To reheat your soup, low and slow is the best way to warm up your leftover broccoli cheddar soup. You can use the microwave but you risk separation because of the high heat. I add my soup to a saucepan and warm over low heat until hot. Be sure to stir frequently to ensure the bottom doesn’t scorch and burn.
- To store leftovers, I like to transfer my soup to these resealable containers and store in the back of my refrigerator to eliminate fluctuations on temperature. This is best to ensure the flavor of your soup doesn’t turn from frequent opening and closing of the fridge….like at my house.
WHAT TO SERVE WITH IT
It’s, also, amazing with a slice of toasted brioche or these easy popovers with a dollop of butter. You could also whip up these Two Ingredient Biscuits for dipping or serve alongside a pile of Parmesan Crisps if you’re keeping things Keto.
Looking for a few more easy soup recipes? We’re loving this easy Stuffed Cabbage Soup, it’s hearty, quick and amazing…also freezer friendly! This French Onion Soup is also on repeat all winter long, as is, this easy Vegetable Minestrone Soup.
Easy Broccoli Cheddar Soup
- blender or food processor
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tbsp butter
- 1 cup diced onion
- 1 cup finely chopped carrots
- 1 garlic clove minced
- 2 cups finely chopped broccoli florets frozen and thawed will work, too.
- 1/4 cup cornstarch
- 2 cups low sodium chicken stock
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp ground mustard
- 2 cups half and half or whole milk
- 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
- 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
- kosher salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
- In a large pot, heat the olive oil and butter over medium-high heat. Add the onions to the pot cooking until softened, approximately 2-3 minutes.
- Add the carrots and cook for 2 additional minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook for 1 minute longer.
- Add the broccoli and continue cooking for 2 minutes. Stir in the cornstarch to combine. Continue cooking for 2 minutes, stirring every 30 seconds to ensure the cornstarch doesn't burn.
- Stir in the chicken stock, onion powder and garlic powder. Bring the mixture to a boil and then turn the heat to low. Allow the soup to simmer for 2-3 minutes or until slightly thickened.
- Add the half and half to the soup, continue to simmer for 5 minutes.
- Add the cheese to the soup one handful at a time being sure it melts completely before adding more. Stir until smooth and creamy.
- Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
- Serve immediately garnished with shredded cheese, broccoli and carrots, if desired.