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

Related Recipes

Creamy Tomato Soup (vegan, GF) – Panera copycat that’s fast, easy, and healthy!

Creamy Tomato Soup (vegan, GF)

Roasted Carrot and Red Pepper Peanut Soup (vegan, GF) – Thick, rich, and loaded with smoky flavors!

Roasted Carrot and Red Pepper Peanut Soup (vegan, GF)

Immune-Boosting Vegetable Soup and Broth (vegan, GF) – Easy soup that’s healthy, nourishing, and keeps you healthy! Bye-bye germs!

Immune-Boosting Vegetable Soup and Broth (vegan, GF) - Easy soup that's healthy, nourishing, and keeps you healthy! Bye-bye germs!

Creamy Vegan Corn and Red Pepper Blender Soup (gluten-free, soy-free, no added salt) – Ready in 5 minutes and packed with flavor!

Creamy Vegan Corn & Red Pepper Blender Soup (gluten-free, soy-free, no added salt) - Ready in 5 Minutes and Packed with Flavor

Sweet Potato Red Pepper and Coconut Milk Soup (vegan, GF) – Ready in 10 minutes and so thick and satisfying!

Immune-Boosting Vegetable Soup and Broth – (vegan, GF) – Easy soup that’s healthy, nourishing, and keeps you healthy!  Bye-bye germs!

Immune-Boosting Vegetable Soup and Broth (vegan, GF) - Easy soup that's healthy, nourishing, and keeps you healthy! Bye-bye germs!

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

  1. Just made this soup and it was delicious :) I lost my teeth because of Ehlers Danlos Syndrome, so it’s hard to find ways to feed myself and be healthy, and store-bought soups are gross lol. I blended it at the end. And there’s extra for those days that I can’t cook. Thank you for putting this recipe up!

  2. how come my soup foamed?

    • I’ve never had soup foam but what you may be trying to describe is that it separated, or ‘broke’, which can happen if you heat cheese or milk too hot/too fast/too long. I suspect that’s what happened. Next time, very easy does it with the heat after you add the cream/milk and cheese and that should solve it.

  3. I made this tonight with only a few differences. I chopped up baby carrots in a food processor, used regular half and half, and I used the bagged shredded cheese from Kraft. I just didn’t have the block on hand and didn’t feel like going back to the store. The pre bagged cheese melted just fine and tasted great. I also did not have dried mustard.  It turned out really good and is now a favorite of mine. Next time I will use the fat free half and half (hubby picked up the wrong thing at the store lol). Thank you for a GREAT recipe. I will be saving and making it again :)

  4. Also, I should add, that I feel like it originally came out a bit sweet originally. I just added more salt and I was good to go!

  5. I made this for dinner tonight, and holy yumm!! This was one of the best soups I’ve ever had. The only chamge I made was by using heavy cream instead of the half & half, because we’re gluttons in this house. I also utilized the food processor to chop the onions and shred the carrots (rather than slice them), and shred the cheese. It made the soup even easier to make. A lot of grocery stores have pre-chopped veggies to make things a breeze. Seriously try this recipe!

  6. Hi! I tried your soup tonight because I was intrigued by the spices you put into the recipe. The soup tasted great–even my kids ate it–but it separated on me. I used some cornstarch to thicken it up to mask it and it worked so we could eat it, although the texture was a little yucky. I’ll be trying this again but I think I’ll save the dairy for the very end like I normally do! thanks!

    • Anytime you add dairy (milk or cheese) you have to be very careful about the temperature and if it gets just a bit too hot, too quickly, it can separate. I haven’t had it happen with this soup but over the years, of course it’s happened to us all. Thanks for trying the recipe and glad that it tasted great and your kids enjoyed it, too!

  7. What is half and half?

  8. This soup is fantastic!! I subbed in chicken broth and left out the carrots. My husband doesn’t like carrots. I love this soup. Definitely my new go to recipe for broccoli cheese soup 

  9. This was a delicious soup. Every one loved it. Thanks for sharing Averie!

  10. This looks delicious and I will be making it soon. However, you say that using fat-free half-and-half will make a healthier soup. I don’t think that is true. It will make a soup lower in fat, but fat-free half-and-half contains about twice as much sodium. It contains corn syrup and carrageenan. Both of those ingredients pose a number of health problems. It has artificial coloring which is never healthy. So, I will be using real half-and-half. In general, I think it’s best to use real foods, not foods that have been tampered with to make them “healthier”.

    • I agree with you in general about ‘engineered’ foods and nature-made. However, for me personally, I can’t justify the fat grams in full-fat half-and-half and I know many others who are watching their fat intake cannot either so I provided the option. If you want to use real half-and-half, enjoy! The beauty about food and recipes is that we always get to make the choices that work best for our own personal path and needs.

  11. I’m a bit of a non-professional home foodie, and I’ll start by noting two things:

    – We ate at Panera on saturday for the first time ever (and had the broccoli/cheddar soup). I thought it was ok, but wondered how good it could be made at home instead.
    – I’ve never even considered posting on a food website, until I made this recipe just now. 

    I’ve been cooking for years when I have the time, and some think I’m pretty good at it. I was home from work today and decided I’d see what I could find online for a nice warming broccoli cheddar soup.

    I found this recipe.

    A glass of wine, this bowl of soup, and some crusty bread on the side……it’ll be in my top 10 go to meals when company comes over, and I would say in the top 3 soups I’ve ever made, or maybe ever had.

    I doubled the recipe, using part half and half and part 2% milk, but increased the amount of rout just a bit to regain the thickness. The low sodium vegetable broth is a must I’d say, or it could taste a little heavy on the salt after the cheese is added. I’d prefer using my own broth, but I didn’t make any with low sodium…so I’m glad I followed your suggestion.

    During a taste test of the broth with my youngest daughter, BEFORE the cheese was even added, she asked if there was enough for her to have a second bowl at dinner! This from a kid that I had to bribe to get her to taste the Panera soup, and she just shrugged her shoulders after trying it.

    Like mentioned above, I don’t often post anything anywhere…but this soup was worth the time to do so.

    Home cook reputations are built on recipes like this…great recipe, clearly detailed, and very very deliciously prepared.

    • Thanks for trying the recipe and I’m glad it came out great for you! Glad it was a hit with your daughter, that everyone wanted seconds, that it’s in the top 3 soups you’ve ever made and it’ll be on your top 10 when entertaining! Wow, such awesome praise and thank you!

  12. I’m so happy I stumbled across your web page!!!  I will be using this recipe for sure it’s one of my favorites :)  all the recipes look Delicious!

  13. I tried it. I was not impressed at all. I think extra sharp cheddar is a bit much. I only ate about 5 bites and just couldn’t do it anymore:(

    • Thanks for trying the recipe and I’m sorry you didn’t care for it. We all have different tastes and this is one of my most popular and well-loved recipes, but maybe if you re-try it given your preferences a milder cheddar would be better suited.

  14. Just made this. Excellent! I followed the recipe to the tee except didn’t have carrots and I used whole what flour. It turned out great. Thanks for sharing this great recipe!

  15. Can,t wait ! I,ve followed your reciepe, it,s simmering right now waiting to add the cheese & I have to say it tastes great as is :) this will deffinatly be on my favorite list ! Thank you !

  16. Does this recipe double well? Could I just double everything or would certain things need to be dialed back a bit?

  17. OMG Averie I just made this soup and it is FANTASTIC! I have never had the soup you copied but who cares this is the best, will make it over and over. Very easy and fast to make.

  18. I pureed it with an emersion blender, used a local, extra sharp cheddar and added an 1/4 teaspoon of nutmeg, and it turned out to be the best soup I’ve ever made!!  It’s perfect on the night after our first snowfall of the year.  I will be making this often!! 

  19. Just made your soup and it was amazing, the only change made was that I roasted the broccoli before adding, YUM!

  20. Wonderful! I was making this with ingredients on-hand so used only florets (I had a LOT of broccoli), a regular onion, 1 cup of cream (left over from Thanksgiving) with 1 cup of nonfat milk, and a bit less than 7 oz of sharp cheddar. I always use less salt than called for as well. My wife said, “you can serve this to company!” There is no greater praise.

  21. Can I use frozen broccoli for this recipe? This looks delicious and I have so much frozen broccoli I was hoping to find an awesome use for it.

    Thanks in advance.
    S

  22. Like another commenter said, I never post comments online…but this soup was fantastic!!  3 of us in our little family, and this was enough to feed us all, with room for seconds.  It was so rich and creamy!  I used 1 C half & half, 1 C Fat free milk.  It was so thick and creamy that my son actually asked if I could thin it a bit NEXT time.  He’s picky so asking me to make it again is definitely high praise.  Thanks for a great recipe!!

  23. I liked this recipe a lot. One thing I want to trow out there for people to think about: Fat free dairy products are not more healthy than their full fat counterparts. Fat free half in half is basically water and corn syrup. Sugar will turn into fat in the body before a little regular dairy fat will. Your body actually needs healthy fats even if you’re trying to lose weight. I actually believe that the ‘non-fat’ diet crazes of the 90’s are one of the factors causing rampant obesity because of the extreme added sugar element. And when you think about it. This soup doesn’t need sugar but a little real cream is actually healthy and delicious!!

  24. This recipe looked delish, so I tried it. I’ve been going down the lines of brocoli and cheddar soup recipes to find one that tastes like Panera or better (I’m completely addicted to their soup but their so pricey and it’s the only cheddar broccoli soup my 17 month son will eat with me) this one, like all the others did not impress me, I’m not sure what it needs but it needs something more. My son tried it and then pushed it away, thank for the recipe though!

    • You’re one of the very, very few people who’ve commented that they didn’t care for the soup. It’s one of my more popular recipes and nearly every day I get a comment from someone saying they loved it. But we all have different tastes. Thanks for trying the recipe.

  25. Arvi hemos hecho tu receta, es magnífica, muy bien elaborada y proporcionada : La recomendamos.
    Desde el Puerto de Santa María Sur de España. Un saludo y te seguimos.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *