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!!

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.

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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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1,056 comments on “The Best Broccoli Cheese Soup (Better-Than-Panera Copycat)”

  1. This was the best soup I’ve ever made! Thank you so much for this recipe!

    Rating: 5
  2. This is by far the best broccoli cheese soup ever. Double the recipe, you wont regret it!

    Rating: 5
    • Thanks for the 5 star review and glad you think it’s by far the best broccoli cheese soup ever!

    • This was soooo yummy! Even my toddler loved it and asked for a second serving! :-) The only thing I would change is the amount of salt. I will put just a tad less next time and it will be perfect! Thank you for this recipe :-)

      Rating: 5
      • I’m glad even your toddler asked for a second serving and that it turned out so yummy! Yes just salt to taste next time. Some cheeses can be saltier than others so it’s a bit of trial and error depending on the exact cheese used and personal pref for salt.

  3. Super delicious! I just made this!Mine seemed a little too thick, so I whisked in a little extra broth to thin it out just a little. But like.. super tasty soup.

    Rating: 5
  4. This soup is FANTASTIC! Wow, Best soup Ever!

    Rating: 5
  5. Just made this for dinner, was a huge hit and will make again!

    Rating: 5
  6. What a wonderful recipe! It felt like a “soup day” because it was rainy and cool. I looked in the fridge and decided that broccoli and cheddar was the way to go.The instructions are superb. I love it when idle time (simmering) is filled with next steps (chopping) to make it as time efficient as possible.It was so tasty and filling! My husband said, “This goes into the keeper file.” Great recipe! Thank you!

    Rating: 5
  7. Great recipe , will definitely be a keeper . Delicious !!

    Rating: 5
    • Thanks for the five star review and I’m glad it’ll be a keeper!

    • Amazing! I made it with whole milk because I spaced the half and half at the store and it’s what I had. Still rich and creamy. The spices aren’t specifically noticable, but add depth that makes it absolutely delicious. Definitely making this one again!

      Rating: 5
      • Thanks for the five star review and glad that it was great with whole milk. I agree, the spices are specifically noticeable but do add the depth that make it irresistible!

  8. Would I be able to freeze portions of this soup for meal prepping? If so, how do I do it?

  9. i have made this recipe many times.. it is family and friends soup night this weekend and this is a favorite of most everyone.. i already have secret request to make extra.. my nephews best friend loves it.. i was told to make him some to go.. but not to tell his wife.. i am so glad i found this recipe. because it is one of my best recipes. i get request for other food that i make too.. thanks again for this recipe [i google it every time i make it, just to make sure i have the right ingredients]

    Rating: 5
  10. I’ve made this recipe a couple time I pulled it out today to do it and I failed wondering how much butter and flour do I use to make the roux when doubling the recipe I think that’s where I went wrong ?

  11. This really is the best broccoli cheese soup I’ve ever made and I’ve tried a ton of recipes. I always make a double, triple or quadruple batch. I freeze and heat up on the stovetop all the time without issues.

    Rating: 5
    • Thanks for the 5 star review and glad this was the best broccoli cheese soup recipe you’ve tried and it sounds like you’ve sampled lots! Great to hear about freezing/reheating without any issues, too!

  12. Generally, I’m not a big broccoli fan but this was a great way to serve it, I’ll be making it again, thanks for the recipe

    Rating: 5
  13. This was the best broccoli/cheese soup ever!

    Rating: 5
  14. My elderly mom asked if I would think about making some broccoli cheddar soup for lunch on this crisp, fall day. I’ve made broccoli cheddar soup many times, using various recipes, but found yours this morning. None of them can beat this one — hands down, it’s the best one I’ve ever made, and will be my go-to from now on. Mom said it’s the best she’s ever tasted. A BIG HIT! Many, many thanks!

    Rating: 5
  15. I just finished making 2 batches of this soup to serve to my kids’ teachers at school tomorrow. IT’S DEFINITELY THE BEST I’VE HAD! Thank you so much! Worth the time to give this from the heart. Question: I need to reheat it tomorrow for the luncheon. Can I refrigerate tonight and then slowly reheat in a big pot on the stove tomorrow? Would be hard to microwave that many batches. Was planning to get it warm at home and then put in a crockpot to keep warm during serving.

    Rating: 5
    • Glad it’s the best you’ve had and I think it will be fine reheating slowly in a big pot on the stove; just be careful to keep the heat low and slow and not too high so that cream doesn’t ‘break’.

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