The Best Broccoli Cheese Soup (Better-Than-Panera Copycat)

This is the best broccoli cheese soup.

Not only that, it’s some of the best soup I’ve ever tasted, period.

The Best Broccoli Cheese Soup (Better-Than-Panera Copycat) - Make the best soup of your life at home in 1 hour! Beyond words amazing!!

If you like Panera’s broccoli cheddar soup, this blows the pants off it.

It’s an easy soup to make and is ready in 1 hour. It’s absolutely perfect comfort food and I couldn’t stop eating it. I ate it for lunch and dinner for a couple straight days until it was gone. I loved this soup beyond words.

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The Best Broccoli Cheese Soup (Better-Than-Panera Copycat) - Make the best soup of your life at home in 1 hour! Beyond words amazing!!

I kept the soup vegetarian by using low-sodium vegetable stock rather than chicken stock, and made it healthier by using fat-free half-and-half.

But you’d think that it was made with heavy cream based on how thick, rich, and truly decadent it tastes.

The Best Broccoli Cheese Soup (Better-Than-Panera Copycat) - Make the best soup of your life at home in 1 hour! Beyond words amazing!!

I love broccoli and used plenty because I prefer big chunks of broccoli in every bite but you can use less. I also used some stalks to make use of the entire head and not waste any, but you can use florets only if preferred. Even people who ‘don’t like broccoli’ should love broccoli when it’s bathed in a creamy, cheesy broth.

There’s a few optional spices like smoked paprika, mustard powder, and cayenne pepper. They’re not mandatory if you don’t keep them on hand, but they do add extra depth of flavor, albeit subtle. The cayenne doesn’t make the soup hot in the least, it makes it not taste boring.

The Best Broccoli Cheese Soup (Better-Than-Panera Copycat) - Make the best soup of your life at home in 1 hour! Beyond words amazing!!

Use a high-quality cheddar cheese that you grate yourself. Don’t use the cheapest cheese you can find because the flavor just isn’t there.

I prefer extra-sharp, although sharp may be used. Pre-grated cheese in ziptop bags is resistant to melting and won’t incorporate well.

The Best Broccoli Cheese Soup (Better-Than-Panera Copycat) - Make the best soup of your life at home in 1 hour! Beyond words amazing!!

Read the recipe at least twice before beginning because while it’s a simple soup, there are a few fast-moving stages. While one thing is simmering, you need to be chopping for the next stage, while stirring the simmering pot intermittently between chopping.

You’ll be rewarded with the best, creamiest, richest, and most amazing soup.

The Best Broccoli Cheese Soup (Better-Than-Panera Copycat) - Make the best soup of your life at home in 1 hour! Beyond words amazing!!

Print Recipe

The Best Broccoli Cheese Soup (Better-Than-Panera Copycat)

This is the best broccoli cheese soup. Not only that, it’s some of the best soup I’ve ever tasted, period. If you like Panera’s broccoli cheddar soup, this blows the pants off it. It’s an easy soup to make and is ready in 1 hour. I kept the soup vegetarian by using low-sodium vegetable stock rather than chicken stock, and made it healthier by using fat-free half-and-half. I love broccoli and used plenty because I prefer big chunks of broccoli in every bite but you can use less. I also used some stalks to make use of the entire head and not waste any, but you can use florets only if preferred. There’s a few optional spices like smoked paprika, mustard powder, and cayenne pepper. They’re not mandatory if you don’t keep them on hand, but they do add extra depth of flavor. Use a high-quality cheddar cheese that you grate yourself. Read the recipe at least twice before beginning. You’ll be rewarded with the best, creamiest, richest, and most amazing soup.

Yield: about 6 cups, serves 4 very generously or 6 to 8 modestly

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: about 45 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon + 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
1 small/medium sweet yellow onion, diced small
1 clove garlic, peeled and minced finely
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups low-sodium vegetable stock (chicken stock may be substituted)
2 cups fat-free half-and-half (regular half-and-half may be substituted; whole milk or 2% milk will work but soup won't be as creamy)
2 to 3 cups broccoli florets, diced into bite-size pieces + 1 cups stems, optional (I used 3 cups florets and 1 cup stems as not to waste them)
2 large carrots, trimmed, peeled, and sliced into very thin rounds, about 1/16th-inch
3/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika or regular paprika, optional and to taste
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard powder, optional and to taste
pinch cayenne pepper, optional and to taste (doesn't make soup spicy and serves to enhance flavor)
8 ounces grated high quality extra-sharp cheddar cheese, with a small amount reserved for garnishing bowls

Directions:

  1. In a small saucepan, add 1 tablespoon butter, the diced onion, and sauté   over medium heat until the onion is translucent and barely browned, about 4 minutes. Stir intermittently.
  2. Add the garlic and cook about 30 seconds, stirring constantly so it doesn't burn. Remove from heat and set pan aside.
  3. In a large heavy-bottom pot (I use this Le Creuset Signature Enameled Cast-Iron 6-3/4-Quart Oval French (Dutch) Oven) add 4 tablespoons butter, flour, and cook over medium heat for about 3 to 5 minutes, whisking constantly, until flour is thickened. You are making a roux and it's very important the mixture is thick or soup will never thicken properly later.
  4. Slowly add the vegetable stock, whisking constantly.
  5. Slowly add the half-and-half, whisking constantly.
  6. Allow mixture to simmer over low heat for about 15 to 20 minutes, or until it has reduced and thickened some. Whisk intermittently to re-incorporate the 'skin' that inevitably forms, this is normal.
  7. While mixture is simmering, chop the broccoli and carrots. After simmering 15 to 20 minutes, add the broccoli, carrots, and the onion and garlic you previously set aside.
  8. Add the salt, pepper, optional paprika, optional dry mustard powder, and optional cayenne. If you don't have these seasonings on hand, it's okay, but they do add subtle depth of flavor. Stir to combine.
  9. Allow soup to simmer over low heat for about 20 to 25 minutes, or until it has reduced and thickened some. Whisk intermittently to re-incorporate the 'skin' that inevitably forms, this is normal.
  10. While soup simmers, grate the cheese. It's important to use a high-quality cheese (not the cheapest thing you can find) because the flavor of the soup depends on it. Do not use pre-grated cheese in ziptop bags because that cheese is resistant to melting and won't incorporate well. After simmering about 20 to 25 minutes, add most of the cheese, reserving a small amount for garnishing bowls. Stir in the cheese until melted and incorporated fully, less than 1 minute.
  11. Transfer soup to bowls, garnish with reserved cheese, and serve immediately. Soup will keep airtight for 5 to 7 days in the fridge. Reheat gently in the microwave. I find the soup is less likely to 'break' or separate when reheated in the micro rather than on the stovetop, but do what you think is best. I don't recommend freezing the soup because I feel like the cheese and half-and-half will not do well upon thawing and soup could break, but I haven't actually tried freezing it.
Only Eats

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355 comments

  1. wow!  by far, this is the best broccoli soup I have ever made…..and I have made many decent recipes – this one is exceptional ! I will be thanking you for this one frequently 😀

  2. This is definitely the best recipe I have ever found for this creamy and luscious soup. Thank you! I have to admit though that I sauteed the onions and garlic in refrigerated leftover bacon grease, added nutmeg to the spice mix, and split the cheese mixture into 1/2 freshly grated extra sharp cheddar, 1/2 Mexican Velveeta, and added fresh grated Pecorino. It also froze and reheated like a charm ;)

  3. Thank you very much for these great recipes I want to try them out for my family I know they will enjoy especially sweet Potato Pepper and Coconut milk

  4. great recipe, i have made this many times, but  this recipe was the best… i doubled it.. my family had soup  night and i was ask to bring  broccoli cheese… they ate it so fast,my daughter that hosted soup night did not get any.. my  granddaughter has ask me to make some more… this was the most popular  soup at the hospital where i worked for many  years [ wednesday was  broccoli soup day @ brigham & women’s hospital, boston,ma] that is how i first started making it years ago… but your  recipe is the BEST  thanks this will be my go to recipe  from now on…

  5. I found this recipe and tried it last night. I’ve never written a review on recipes, although I’ve tried many. Both my husband and I absolutely loved this soup. Perfectly creamy and not too rich. I did top it with bacon.  This will definitely be a recipe I keep with me. Thank you!

  6. Help! I made this soup –and it WAS the best tasting soup I’ve ever made–but it didn’t come out very creamy. It’s actually a little grainy despite my roux being thoroughly mixed and using good cheese I shredded myself. What can I do to keep from having that grainy, congealed texture?

    • Thanks for letting me know it was the best tasting soup you’ve ever made!

      As far as consistency…hmmm, not sure what is going on. If your roux was thoroughly mixed and your cheese was hand-shredded, I would suggest using full-fat cream. Don’t use any reduced fat or ‘lite’ milks/creams. And anytime something gets congealed and it has dairy in it, that happens to me when I let the heat get too high and then it cools. I would lower the heat and take more time to get the cheese to melt which will also prevent the cream from ‘scorching’ – not saying it was scorched but erring on the side of cooler/slower/lower heat could help here. Please LMK if you remake!

    • I just made it again, using the same ingredients but watching my heat. I’m still getting a sort-of grainy texture to the soup, bit not as thick as it was before. I don’t think I’m reducing it too much… Next time (because I’ll keep making it) I’ll definitely use a full cream like you mentioned to see if that makes it even creamier. But thank you fie the tip on the heat. I kept it lower this time throughout and even pulled it off the heat while gradually adding the cheese. I’m seeing improvement and look forward to perfecting this!

    • Practice makes perfect! And yes use a full fat cream and I can almost guarantee that, in conjunction with monitoring the heat, will solve the problem 100%.

    • I made a cream & cheese based soup last winter for a big family dinner (which I have done several times). My husband suggested I transfer it to the crock pot on low so that I could leave it without babying it. However, it separated and became “grainy” or gritty, and I was mortified. In a panic, I strained the liquid into a bowl, leaving the veggies, etc. in the colander. I added some butter to the liquid and used a submersion blender to blend the liquid until it reverted back to the correct consistency. Then, I mixed all the ingredients back together, and it turned out fine. I believe the length of time on heat without being stirred made the fat in the milk start to separate. This is why adding a bit of butter and blending it corrected the problem. Maybe if I would’ve left it on the stove on low temp, and stirred it every time I walked by, it would’ve prevented the separation. Not sure if this helps, but I feel your pain! I’m going to try this Broccoli Cheese recipe for Easter Sunday!

    • I believe the length of time on heat without being stirred made the fat in the milk start to separate. <--- yes that is exactly what happened and since this recipe was written to be a fairly fast stovetop recipe rather than a crockpot recipe, I am not surprised that it separated but sounds like a little butter and blending saved the day - great thinking! And next time just do it on the stove. It's not really a 'fussy' soup to make on the stove and the results are predictable.

  7. I must say that this was a most excellent recipe and I will be using it as my go to recipe from this day forward. YUM!

  8. Made this for dinner tonight and we loved it! Delicious and cheesy. This recipe is way better than the Panera copy cat recipe. I will make this again! Thank you!

  9. Hi, can’t wait to make this! Do you have the nutritional info?? I know there is cheese, but I am looking for a low-carb soup, that might be ok for weight loss.

  10. Do you know the carbs per serving? 

  11. This was the best broccoli cheese soup I’ve ever had. I didn’t have veg broth so I just used chicken broth and it was FANTASTIC!! Can’t wait to make this again!! Thank you!

  12. Is there any way you could make this soup in a crock pot, or could you transfer it to a crock pot to heat it up if you wanted to take the soup to a party?

  13. I would love to make this Gluten Free so that my whole family can eat it (plus I don’t keep any regular flour), what Gluten Free flour would you recommend?

    • It’s such a small amount of flour that I would use your fave GF flour blend. But I have never made this with GF flour and so I can’t comment on how thick (or not) the soup will turn out to be in the end since you’re making a GF roux. LMK how it goes!

    • There is a modified food starch you can use to thicken it called Ultra-gel. Not sure how it would affect the taste but I would still add the butter. I use it for sauces and soups all the time and it works great. completely tasteless and works with hot or cold recipes. Also it eliminates the skin that forms on top and keeps it from turning to gel in the refrigerator

  14. Made mine with 1-1/2 cups buttermilk (because I had it on hand) and 1/2 cup half n half. Delicious!!!

  15. Elizabeth Oakley Reply

    This was amazing. I had to double the recipe for my size family but there is only enough for one person to have leftovers today. Thanks for a GREAT recipe. I loved the spices in it to add that great flavor. Great job!

  16. I typically like to do crock pot soups, so I was a little hesitant to try this. I mostly followed the recipe. Some changes I made were not putting the milk in right away after the stock. I waited till the last 5 minutes of simmering because I read other recipes that don’t put it in until the very end, but I didn’t know how the veggies would cook. Also, I used frozen broccoli, so I steamed the bags in the microwave a bit just so they wouldn’t go in frozen. I added 5 small potatoes to make it a chowder and celary, since most soups call for it. I also put in some cottage cheese since I was a little short on cheddar.

    Overall, it is a great soup base. I love experimenting with different ingredients and I am glad I tried this recipe. I wonder how it would taste with a mix of broccoli and cauliflower.

    Have a blessed day!!

    • Glad it turned out great overall! I am surprised the cottage cheese worked out well but glad it did. I think it would be just fine with doing a broccoli/cauliflower mix or just using cauli.

  17. Delicious!! I tweaked it by adding shredded chicken and rice to feed a household, and OMG so good!! Will be added to my go-to list for dinner recipes.

  18. Excellent recipe! I used chicken stock, whipping cream and bacon for garnish! Spices added a smooth flavor!

  19. I was just wondering if you are supposed to blanch the broccoli or put it in raw. Rookie question, I know!

  20. can you use frozen broccoli?

  21. This recipe is ON POINT. I read and reread as directed, and read again and again to make sure I got it. The only thing different I did was saute the carrot and onion together and made the roux with them and used gf flour. The rest was to the T. It’s really super great!

    • Thanks for trying the recipe and I’m glad it came out great for you! Glad to know that GF flour works fine for the roux – I’ve had a few people now tell me they have used GF flour with success so that’s great!

  22. Made this recipe twice. Best broccoli cheddar soup I have ever had. I ended up freezing half and just dethawed and heated some out of the freezer yesterday. Heated in a pot on the stovetop, didn’t separate at all and tasted just like the day I made it over a month ago!!!,  I added one more cup of broccoli and left out the onion since I don’t care for them…but other that that, i followed the recipe exactly. Thanks for sharing the recipe!!!!!

  23. Do you have the nutrition data in the broccoli cheese soup? and all other recipes?

  24. I’m not sure why but this recipe has turned out grainy, vegetables hard both times I’ve tried. I even tried to cook the vegetables beforehand for a little while the second time. I followed the ingredients and instructions to a T. I’ve never had trouble making broccoli cheddar soup before…

    • I’m not sure why you’re having trouble. Hard for me to say from afar. I get 99% positive feedback on this recipe so I don’t know what to advise. Did you watch the video? Maybe that will help.

  25. I found this when racking my brain for a potluck soup recipe. This is delicious!!! The flavors really shone through. I doubled the recipe and used 1/2 chicken stock and 1/2 veg stock. I also used a white extra sharp cheddar (I love white cheddar!!) along with a regular extra sharp. Turned out GREAT! Thank you!

  26. Hands down the BEST soup I’ve ever had. Even better than Panera’s. I made the process easier by getting all the ingredients prepared…and set aside, first. I used frozen broccoli. I cooked the broccoli with the matchstick cut carrots..just long enough to take away the crunch. I grated 12 oz of sharp cheddar rather than the 8oz. I measured out the spices and set them all aside…along with the reg half n half, sauteed MINCED ONION AND MINCED GARLIC..and chicken broth. This way..I was able to focus on the whisking. I used the dry mustard..paprika..and cayenne pepper. You’re right..the spices added so much flavor. I think this is what makes it BETTER than PANERA’S. I served the soup with sliced French bread loaf. It was AMAZING. My picky teens even loved it. It’s a keeper.

  27. Rhonda Witt-Miller Reply

    the picture looks like it has cubed potatoes….does it and they were left out of recipe?

  28. I’m wondering the estimated carbs in this soup. I want to try it tonight but my husband and I are on the Atkins diet and I don’t want to stray too far.

  29. I made this last week and my family loved it! This week they want me to double the recipe so they can have seconds! Do you think I should double everything or should I cut back on something in the doubled recipe?

  30. Loved it, as is. I used SHARP, not EXTRA, but we very much enjoyed this soup. I did leave the onion and garlic when making the roux, and used a stick blender to help break them down (I’m not a fan of onions I can feel in my mouth). The smoked paprika does indeed create a light smokey flavor, but in no way over powering, subtle. I added bacon crumbles that I crisped in a pan to add to cheese topping. My first batch was a double portion, in order feed a group.
    On my “cold weather” list.

    It was very filling. I might try adding diced potato for fun. Thank you!

    • Thanks for trying a recipe and I’m glad it came out great for you! Good job on using the stick blender if you don’t like the texture of onions and glad that this recipe is a keeper for you!

  31. The perfect way to eat broccoli ! I wasn’t a big fan of them at first but now that I have discovered your incredible recipe I keep making this soup. Plus it is easy to prepare and ingredients are pretty common which is not always the case (as I live in France I sometimes struggle to find replacements). Thanks a lot !!!

    • Thanks for trying the recipe and I’m glad it came out great for you! Glad you’re not a fan of broccoli and that the ingredients are all easily available for you!

  32. Just made this EXACTLY the way the recipe said to… and it is super delish!

  33. Ended up using evaporated milk in place of the half and half and it still came out nicely. Thanks for sharing your recipe.

  34. rosemary swanson Reply

    My family loves this recipe. I do 2 things different. First I use instant mashed potatoes instead of flour, and I chop up mini sweet peppers and add with onions.

  35. Michelle Nixon Reply

    Soup was delicious! The only thing is that we doubled the roux and the liquid, just wasn’t enough for a family of 4 to use as a meal for dinner in large soup bowls. Would have been fine if we were having sandwiches too, but not as a full meal. Even after doubling the liquid, we only had one bowl leftover. Will definitely make again, but may replace the flour with something with less carbs than flour.

    • Glad you loved it and will make it again! Just a word of caution in replacing the flour with something else…not sure how that will work since flour is the gold standard for making a roux, but good luck and LMK how it goes! I say don’t worry about the small amount of carbs in the flour since you’re feeding a family with the batch!

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