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.

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

MY OTHER RECIPES

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!!

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.

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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435 comments on “The Best Broccoli Cheese Soup (Better-Than-Panera Copycat)”

  1. This looks delicious! I’ve always heard my friends rave about Panera’s broccoli and cheddar soup, but have never had it since their version is not vegetarian. So glad to have found this vegetarian copycat – I can’t wait to try it!

  2. Needs just one more thing: a half can of beer added at the end. 

  3. it looks so good! i love all your recipes

  4. delicious soup, like my fav restaurant 

  5. I tried this recipe last night – absolutely divine and perfect for a freezing Cape Town evening. Thank you so much!

  6. I am fasting for Ramadan and I just broke my fast with you delicious soup! They don’t sell half and half here in Dubai so I just mixed low fat milk with heavy whipping cream. I also used 2% milk sharp cheddar cheese and it is still absolutely delicious.  I did add an extra 1/2 cup low fat milk as it was very very thick during the first simmering. Thank you for this great recipe! 

  7. Oh my goodness! I just made this soup and it is delicious! I’ve eaten broccoli cheddar soup many times when visiting Canada. I live in the UK and it’s not really a thing here, people prefer broccoli and Stilton cheese soup- I hate blue cheese and all UK recipes for that seemed to include potatoes which I didn’t want to add. This recipe was perfect, I’m so pleased with how it turned out. Thanks for a great recipe!

    • Thanks for trying the recipe and I’m glad it came out great for you! That’s interesting that most UK broccoli/cheese soups are made with Stilton. (Blue cheese tends to be a love it or hate it type of cheese! I like it but not sure if it would be just too over-powering with a whole bowl of soup of it!) Glad you’re happy with my recipe!

  8. Excellent recipe!  I love the option of a savory broccoli cheese soup.  I used fresh picked Alaskan broccoli and garlic, which made it absolutely divine.  The 18+ hours of sunlight and cool summer evenings make for more robust and sweeter veggies than you would find in the Lower 48.  Such a treat!  This is definitely a keeper.  

  9. I’ve tried (what feels like) so, so  many broccoli cheddar soup recipes. This is the only one I would make again! (I’m so in love with Panera’s that I hate making my own). 

    I made a few little tweaks. Used the food processor to chop my broccoli stems and my onion (the addition of the stems is a must, like the recipe calls for!). I used an enameled cast iron pot that was decently large, so after sautéing the onion and garlic, I just kind of pushed it aside and made my roux. Also, added 3 cups of stock (throughout the cooking time) and ended up with a nice thick soup. It tasted so good even before the cheese! 

    I did feel like it was a teensy bit sweet, which may have been the non fat half & half (mine said it had HFCS in it) or the onion that I chose (or it could be my pregnant tastebuds). It tastes a bit different than Panera’s, but it is really yummy and has so much flavor (prob more flavor than Panera’s! yum!). I used the spices too — and even added a splash of hot sauce. Yum!! So good with a baguette too. Thanks for the recipe! I’ll be sharing it.

  10. Our garden is exploding with broccoli so I made this for lunch yesterday to make room in the fridge for the newest crop. Delicious! Super easy (your warning to read the recipe a couple of times worried me but it’s not the least bit complicated) and a lovely depth of flavour. We all felt it there was too much cheese so next we’ll cut back at first and add more if needed.  Definitely a keeper. Thank you!

    • Thanks for trying the recipe and I’m glad it came out great for you! I always instruct people to read ahead in recipes (you’d be surprised) and for anyone with any kitchen experience, I agree, the recipe is easy! But not everyone has experience :)

      I can only imagine how good this was with fresh, homegrown, just picked broccoli! I’m jealous! And yes, if you don’t like as much cheese, you can always cut back at first and add more if you’d like.

  11. I am curious where you got the recipe from?

  12. would this recipe work in a slow cooker. It sounds delicious 

    • As written, no, it wouldn’t. There are ways to likely make it work in a slow cooker but you’d have to play around with things, timing, when to add certain things, etc. in order to get it to work properly.

  13. This recipe was so good!

    It was really fun and easy to make. You are so right about how great the seasonings were in it and it had just the right amount of cheese. Also, a tip to anyone considering: my husband and I picked up a loaf of Pane Pugliese from a local bakery for with this and it was perfection dipped in this soup.

    Looking forward to trying more of your recipes!

  14. This is by far the best broccoli and cheddar soup I have ever made. Love the fact it has no potatoes in it, as in my opinion they make the soup too heavy. This is full of flavour and very light, which means I have room in my tummy for some homemade lime and orange cake ;-) Perfect.

  15. I tried making this with Non-fat Half and Half, as instructed, but the sauce broke into a grainy mess.
    In desperation, I strained out the almost-done vegetables, re-made and thickened the sauce (this time with REAL Half and Half) then returned the vegetables to the pot and continued — so not a total loss.
    Still – word to the wise: If your not using “real” dairy ingredients, watch the sauce like a hawk — and be ready to act quickly if it shows even a HINT of separating.

    • Thanks for trying the recipe and I’m glad that real half and half did the trick. I have made the soup many times with fat-free half and half and have never had an issue with it separating but anytime you’re using low/no-fat dairy, separating is more of a risk. Glad it all worked out though!

  16. Has anyone tried freezing this yet?

  17. I made this broccoli cheddar soup for dinner tonight… I have no words. I used a 3 year old aged white cheddar and it was PERFECT. This is by far the best soup recipe I’ve ever tried. I followed the recipe exactly and it made a perfect soup. Perfect. 

  18. I just got done making this soup. Absolutely wonderful. Didn’t have Dried Mustard, but had the other spices you suggested. I also used half pepper & half white pepper. Gave it a nice bite. Thank you for your recipe.  I’ll be making this all winter. It was delicious. 

  19. Yummy! Just made a batch for our dinner tonight at our camper. I did not have dried mustard or cayenne. Used a spicy gouda cheese, broccoli and carrots from our CSA. Of course, had to sample some. I will be making it again! Thank you for sharing.

  20. Can I double this recipe? I made it last night and it was delicious! I did add a bit more salt, pepper, paprika and cayenne to the recipe. I just thought it would make more so I added more chicken stock. Despite having to add more stock I loved this recipe!

  21. This was a HUGE hit in our family tonight.  The super-picky 3 year old ate almost an entire bowl, and the 1 year old on a hunger strike ate his entire bowl and part of mine!  The baby has major congenital heart defects, so getting him enough calories to grow and gain weight is our daily task; we went for all the full-fat ingredients here and it was so satisfying to see him gobble it up!  My search for the perfect broccoli cheese soup recipe is officially over. Thank you! (Goodness, so many exclamation points for a bowl of soup haha.)

    • Thanks for trying the recipe and I’m glad it came out great for you! And that you were able to please the ENTIRE family, picky kiddos no less who ate the broccoli, happily :) Awesome!

  22. This was delicious! We love Panera’s broccoli cheddar soup. For our preferences I’ll probably reduce the amount of carrots/cut into quarters next time but this recipe is definitely a keeper!

  23. This really is better than Panera…

    Some of the things I did differently that still got me to the same place:

    1) I used chicken stock that I had made a few days before. That really added a lot of depth of flavour.

    2) I used two cups plain unsweetened almond milk because that’s what I had on hand. Still got all the creaminess I wanted.

    3) I let my roux get really thick because I was adding frozen broccoli, which creates a lot of water. So my final soup was just the right thickness.

    4) I puréed half of the soup before adding the cheese to add more texture and distribute the veggies.

    5) I didn’t measure out 8 oz of extra sharp Cracker Barrel cheddar, just added it with abandon. :)

    Thank you for a GREAT recipe!

  24. Anyone tried this with a gluten free flour?  Giving it a try tonight. Excited!

  25. This soup was a huge hit with our family. It’s always a challenge getting everyone to eat their veggies, and there were no objections tonight which I’m so very thankful for! The only downside to this recipe was the amount, I wish I had (at least!) doubled it. My husband ate no less than three bowls which meant no leftovers for the rest of us. Boo! Thank you for such a rich, delicious dinner!

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