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

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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 and WAY better than Panera! 

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 Recipe 

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. 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.

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!!

Broccoli Cheese Soup Ingredients 

For this better-than-Panera copycat cheesy broccoli soup recipe, you’ll need: 

  • Unsalted butter
  • Yellow onion 
  • Garlic
  • All-purpose flour
  • Vegetable stock
  • Half and half
  • Broccoli florets 
  • Carrots
  • Spices
  • Extra sharp cheddar cheese

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

How to Make Broccoli Cheese Soup

This is a very easy broccoli cheddar soup recipe, but there are a few fast-moving stages. Read the recipe before you start making the soup so you know what’s coming up next. 

  1. In a small saucepan, add a little butter, the diced onion, and sauté until the onion is translucent and barely browned.
  2. Add the garlic and cook about 30 seconds. Remove from heat and set pan aside.
  3. In a large heavy-bottom pot, add the remaining butter, flour, and cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, until flour is thickened. 
  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 until it has reduced and thickened some.
  7. Add the broccoli, carrots, and the onion and garlic you previously set aside.
  8. Add the spices. 
  9. Allow soup to simmer over low heat for about 20 to 25 minutes. 
  10. While soup simmers, grate the cheese. After simmering about 20 to 25 minutes, add most of the cheese, reserving a small amount for garnishing bowls.

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

What’s the Best Cheese for Broccoli Cheese Soup? 

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.

Can Frozen Broccoli Be Used? 

You could try, but it will be mushy. I hate mushy vegetables so I personally never would use frozen broccoli in this soup being that the broccoli is the star of the show.

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

Tips for the Best Broccoli and Cheese Soup

Broccoli: 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.

Spices: There are 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.

Recipe prep: 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)

Make the best broccoli cheese soup of your life at home in 1 hour! Beyond words amazing and WAY better than Panera!

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon + 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
  • 1 small or 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 half-and-half*
  • 2 to 3 cups broccoli florets, diced into bite-size pieces + 1 cups stems, optional (I used 3 cups florets and 1 cup stems
  • 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

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.

Recipe Notes and Tips:

*Whole milk or 2% milk will work but soup won’t be as creamy. I used fat-free half-and-half to reduce the fat amount.

More Easy Soup Recipes: 

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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)

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

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Sweet Potato Red Pepper and Coconut Milk Soup (vegan, GF)

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About the Author

Welcome to AverieCooks! Here you’ll find fast and easy recipes that taste amazing and are geared for real life. Nothing fussy or complicated, just awesome tasting dishes everyone loves!

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Please note: I have only made the recipe as written, and cannot give advice or predict what will happen if you change something. If you have a question regarding changing, altering, or making substitutions to the recipe, please check out the FAQ page for more info.

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Comments

  1. My co-workers and I take turns for our “Soup Monday’s” I made this wonderful soup and they all can’t stop raving about it! So much favor!

    Rating: 5
  2. Oh my this recipe was amazing! I added a little extra broth cause I don’t like it super thick but the spices that are in the recipe are a must they add so much flavor! Loved it! 

    Rating: 5
  3. Made it several times and is amazing, follow the recipe exactly, don’t switch out the half and half for milk, it will have a runny consistency. I add cooked chicken breast for a protein hit.

    Rating: 5
    1. Thanks for the 5 star review and I’m glad that you’ve made it a few times and it’s amazing and decided to add chicken too for extra protein!

    1. I’m glad you enjoyed it and yes, always add broth to taste in soups so it comes out just the way you like it.

    2. Thank you for posting this recipe! Absolutely delicious!! I substituted almond flour when making the roux and the soup still came out thick and rich with complex flavor. So good!

      Rating: 5
      1. Thanks for the 5 star review and I’m glad it came out great for you with almond flour in the roux – great to know!

  4. My family absolutely loves it! It was a win specially for my 2 yr old picky eater. It’s easy and very delicious

    Rating: 5
  5. I used 2% milk bc I didn’t have half. and half but I also used a little more flour for the roux. I roasted some cauliflower to incorporate with this soup and it all turned out amazing! I wish I would’ve used low sodium broth as it seemed a little salty. Next time, I’ll make sure to crisp up some BACON for a garnish along with çrusty bread!!!!

    Rating: 5
    1. Thanks for the 5 star review and I’m glad that it turned out amazing and that you’re going to make it again with bacon and crusty bread!

  6. OMG this is fantastic!! Someone on my tennis team made this last week and I said I must have this recipe. I could bathe in it. LOL

    Rating: 5
    1. Thanks for the 5 star review and I’m glad you found the recipe and that you could bathe in it – me too :)

  7. This soup is unbelievably tasty and easy. I’ve made it several times as written and I keep telling myself that the next time I make it, I will skip the cheese because the soup base is THAT good… Then I add the cheese anyway. LOL. I usually add a little extra pepper and mustard. I don’t need extra salt because I don’t use low sodium broth. The smoked paprika adds amazing flavor but a little goes a long way. Highly recommend!

    Rating: 5
    1. Thanks for the 5 star review and glad that you’ve made it many times and almost don’t even need to add the cheese :) But do anyway! As a cheese-aholic myself, I would never skip the cheese!

  8. LOVE this recipe.  Easy to make.  Turned out a little salty.  Didn’t add salt at end. Just pepper.  I think it was the cheese.

    1. Yes, cheese is generally salty and some brands are much saltier than others, which is possibly why it was a little bit salty. I’ve never had anybody say that before but I don’t doubt that it could happen based on the type of cheese that you used and your personal preference for salt.

  9. Really enjoyed this recipe!! I used heavy cream and milk instead of half and half. And even though I used frozen broccoli it didn’t get soggy. It was a big hit with all my family (ages 1-15)!!!

    Rating: 5
  10. The recipe is Solid ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐. One tip i will give is that when adding the cheese at the end take the soup of the heat source and let cool while stirring for about 5 mins. Incorporate the cheese gradually. This will prevent the cheese from curdling. I made the recipe twice now and the first time the sheets curdled because the soup was too hot. Second time – perfect.

    Rating: 5
    1. In all the hundreds of comments I’ve gotten on this soup, I’ve never had somebody say that, but it makes perfect sense and I think it’s a great tip so thank you for sharing that. I instinctively add it slowly, but not everyone perhaps has that instinct so good to point that out for folks. I’m glad that you enjoyed the recipe!

      1. Plus this technique will help prevent the soup from being gritty which can happen when cheese gets overheated.

  11. Would you happen to know the nutrition facts for this recipe? Such as how many calories are in one bowl?I couldn’t get the soup to thicken to my liking but other than that it tastes pretty good.

    Rating: 4
    1. Then something probably went wrong when you were making your roux with the the flour. It’s hard to say, but that’s my guess. You could also simmer it a bit longer, which would thicken it up as well.

      I’m working on getting all of my recipe cards. Updated to include nutrition info. It really depends on the size of your bowl probably 250 to 300 cals is my guess.

  12. Made this for my mom who is going through chemo, she LOVED it. And she rarely loves any food these days, so thank you. I wondered, does this freeze well? If so about how long do you thinking would keep for frozen?

    Rating: 5
    1. Thanks for the five star review and I’m so sorry that your mom is going through chemo. But it’s great to hear that. She loved the soup, which I understand is rare in her circumstance.

      I personally have never frozen it because we go through it quickly, but many readers have commented that they have frozen it, and it reheats fine. Easily three months it would keep frozen. The issue anytime you have a cream based soup or cream-based anything and you’re freezing it is that one never quite knows how the milk is going to behave during the thawing process but because of the fat from the cheese, you should be fine. Use regular (not the fat free half-and-half like I did) half and half and that will help as extra insurance too.

  13. Delicious!!!I grated the carrot, added a cup of diced potatoes, precooked those with 2 smashed garlic cloves. Precooked the broccoli, also. Had to use shredded packaged cheese, but I don’ t think it took away from it. Have never had Panera’s version. This is an excellent, filling meal all by it self <3. Keeper!!!

    Rating: 5
    1. Thanks for the five star review, and I’m glad that you were able to doctor it up to your liking, and it’s a keeper!

  14. This was delicious! I usually don’t like making a rue, however, this one was straightforward and easy. I loved the flavor of this soup. I had some leftover cauliflower florests (about 1 cup) so I used it along with my broccoli florets. I also used 1 cup half & half and 1 cup 2% milk – not as creamy, but delicious. Please remember to use good quality cheese and grate it. This recipe is certainly a keeper! Yummy!

    Rating: 5
    1. Thanks for the five star review and I’m glad this is a keeper! In this situation, a roux is necessary, but as you said, very straightforward and easy.

  15. I’ve scrolled several times and cannot find the recipe for the broccoli cheddar soup. All I see are the reviews.

  16. Seriously so good. The only thing I might do different is add the broccoli and carrots a little earlier. Also, wanted to add that it reheats well on the stove top!

    Rating: 5
    1. Thanks for the five star review and I’m glad that it turned out so well for you and yes you can add them a little bit earlier if you like them softer, it’s totally personal preference. And I’m glad that you were able to reheat it well on the stove!

  17. This soup was delicious! I had an abundance of broccoli and was looking to use it before it spoiled. I paired with some homemade artesian bread for dipping. Kept saying “this is so good” after every bite! Thank you for the recipe!If you’re looking for a good broccoli soup recipe, THIS IS IT!

    Rating: 5
    1. Thanks for the five star review and I’m glad that you were able to put your abundance of broccoli to use, and for letting others know that this is it if someone is looking for a great broccoli cheese soup recipe!

  18. This is absolutely fantastic! I screwed up and forgot a garlic bulb so I subbed a 1/2 tablespoon of Better than Bullion Roasted Garlic Base to my onions and I used all the suggested spices. I only had baby carrots so they got the chop instead. I’m definitely making this again. It was very easy and so good. <3

    Rating: 5
    1. Thanks for the five star review and I’m glad you were able to think on your feet and use what you had and that it was easy and you will make it again!

  19. I made this recipe today as written.  I did have to add a little more flour to thicken up the roux was the only change I had to make as the 1/4 cup of AP flour was not quite enough.  It was delicious! My husband was not sure about it but he went back for seconds! It is a keeper! I’ve never had Panera broccoli cheese soup but I don’t think Panera’s could be any better.

    Rating: 5
    1. Thanks for the 5 star review and I’m glad it was delicious and that your husband had seconds!

      You don’t even need to try the original one, this recipe is better by a long shot :)

    1. Thanks for the 5 star review and that is wonderful to hear it’s the best copycat you’ve tried for this soup!

  20. This was really rich and creamy and delicious although next time I’ll use less pepper and/ or cayenne.. But will definitely be making it again.. Thank you

    Rating: 5
    1. Thanks for the 5 star review and glad it was delicious and creamy and yes of course, scale back the seasonings to your taste next time.