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

  1. Just made it & had some! Absolutely delicious! Had everything but the mustard.

    Rating: 5
  2. Made the soup as directed, except for a long grate on the carrots and used chicken broth and an extra sharp cheddar of excellent quality! THIS IS THE ONE TO KEEP! Easy and super delicious! Thanks for sharing your recipe goodness!

    Rating: 5
  3. Very delicious! Mine came out a bit grainy. Any suggestions on how to make it less grainy and more creamy? Thanks!

    Rating: 5
  4. This soup was so delicious! My Bf who was “burnt out on cheddar and broccoli”, ate 2 servings, and brought some for lunch the day after. We don’t use milk in our house, so I subbed the half and half for a cup of almond milk, and a cup of vegan protein broth. I also sauteed the carrots with onions so they were not crunchy. I also added a tiny but of turmeric, just to really add to the golden color of the soup. Over all, I will be making this once a week, until the cold weather is over!!!

    Rating: 5
  5. Hi, any suggestions for a way to make this without the flour or use a substitute for the flour? Thanks.

  6. Just made this soup … It is amazing and better than panera by far !!! I added some fresh chunky bread on the side …perfection :) Thanks for posting this recipe !!!

    Rating: 5
  7. I made this soup and it came out perfect, I didn’t use the flour to thicken it because I used heavy whipping cream and I doubled the broccoli. But I will be making this again. Also think you can sub the broccoli and use potato and bacon bits to have a baked potato soup.

    Rating: 5
  8. Made this for a quick dinner during a cool rainy night and it was amazing. I added andouille sausage and used cajun spices for a rally nice and hearty soup that pared perfectly with my homemade bread. Thank you for a fantastic soup!

    Rating: 5
  9. This is the best Broccoli Cheddar soup! I use 4 year old white cheddar because I love strong flavours. The dry mustard powder and cayenne really enhance the falvours. I make this frequently as it is a favourite at home and at work.

    Rating: 5
  10. Can you use frozen broccoli or only fresh??

  11. I’m making this tonight. I dont eat meat and was disappointed to learn that Panera uses chicken juice in theirs. Based on the reviews from others I know this will be great, can’t wait to go home and cook.

  12. Made this for dinner tonight and it was excellent. Thank you 😊 This is a keeper.

    Rating: 5
  13. Just finished having this soup. I didn’t have sharp cheddar so I used a package of velvetta squeeze cheese. It was delicious and a hit with the men of the house too. Thanks for sharing

    Rating: 4
  14. I made this for dinner tonight and served it with French bread. It’s so good! The bonus is it’s really easy to put together. Thanks for the great recipe!

    Rating: 4
  15. This was amazing and def a slam dunk in my house! I substituted the vegetable broth for chicken and light half and half for regular. I double the recipe bc we have 4 people in my house and it said: “YIELD: ABOUT 6 CUPS, SERVES 4 VERY GENEROUSLY OR 6 TO 8 MODESTLY”….but it still wasn’t enough, only 3 of us were able to get a second helping, which is no biggie. I’m just going to quadruple the recipe next time. Thank you so much for this!! Keeping this in the books for always and forever now lol <3

    Rating: 5
  16. This was really, really good. I decided to make a tripe batch and just go all in. I added all of the recommended spices and it turned out amazing. We put it in bread bowls for dinner and the family devoured it. Can’t wait to finish off the leftovers!

    Rating: 5
  17. Really great soup! I might add a little more spice next time.

    Rating: 5
  18. Made the broccoli cheese soup for my mother-in-law and she was wowed. It was spectacular! Definitely not low cal but satisfying for a main dish on a cold evening. The carrots and the smoked paprika added another level of flavor that put it over the top taste wise.I will make this again.

    Rating: 5
  19. I hate broccoli, but my husband likes broccoli cheese soup, so I hesitantly decided to try this last winter. It is absolutely delicious! I cut the broccoli into very small chunks and dice the carrots. Yummy!

    Rating: 5
  20. This looks amazing! Do you think I would be able to make this the night before and warm up in the crockpot the next day? Thanks!

  21. OMG. Prepared for my wife’s bridge club! Fantastic and simple to make. Doubled the recipe and only made 10 servings!! Hungry ladies. Will make over and over. Precooked broccoli and will precook carrots next time. Thanks for the super recipe

    Rating: 5
  22. Really good! I didn’t have dry mustard, threw in a double pinch of cumin. Did use bagged shredded cheese and about 12 ounces of it — worked terrific. Can’t wait for my broccoli-cheese loving daughter to try it!

    Rating: 5

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