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.

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1,354 comments on “The Best Broccoli Cheese Soup (Better-Than-Panera Copycat)”

  1. What brand of cheese do you recommend?

  2. I would have loved to follow this recipe on my Chromebook in the kitchen as I do all the recipes I find on like. Unfortunately, your site has soooo many pop-ups and advertizing my Chromebook keeps freezing!

  3. Thank you SO much for posting this delicious recipe! It was amazing. My husband just raved about it! Definitely going to put this in my “keep” stack!!!

    Rating: 5
  4. We multiplied this recipe by 8 for a parish soup supper and it was a huge hit! Not a drop left! It lived up to it’s name…THE BEST!!!

    Rating: 5
    • Thanks for the 5 star review and glad you were able to make this at a scale 8 times the original recipe and that not a drop was left! And that it lives up to its name, The Best. Thank you!

  5. Came across this recipe and gave it a go. Being home for more than a month, I’m trying to cook something different every day. I’m trying to utilize things in my refrigerator and not wasting anything. I had some milk that needed to be used in a couple of days. I said I was making soup and my wife immediately said ‘Broccoli cheese?’ So I guess I’m making broccoli cheese soup. Long story short, it was amazing. Family loved it. I did add 1 cup of half and half (in addition to the milk). Great recipe. Thank you for sharing.

    Rating: 5
  6. I just came across this recipe and had all ingredients on hand, so I tried it…it was fabulous!!! I wish I had doubled the recipe cause I brought some to my daughter and her family…now its all gone!! They want to know when I’m making it again! Thank you so much for a “keeper recipe” can’t wait to check out your website for more delicious recipes to try!!

    Rating: 5
  7. This was delicious. I used the broccoli stalks to make the veggie stock and used whole milk. Definitely double this!!!! You’ll be sorry if you don’t. Also – the soup freezes beautifully.

    Rating: 5
  8. Could I use Cabot Vermont white cheddar cheese for this?

  9. Just made this last night & I love Panera Bread’s soup but oh my this blew them away. I always use chicken broth for the base but the vegetable broth was great. Can’t wait to make a larger batch as my husband & I loved it. Can’t wait to try out some other recipes that you have.

    Rating: 5
  10. Hi! This looks like a wonderful recipe and I want to give it a try, but I only have a mixed blend of cheese which includes Cheddar. Would the substitution be okay?

    Thank you so much!

  11. This soup was delicious! Thanks for the awesome recipe!

    Rating: 5
  12. This is the first soup I’ve ever made. And omg was it amazing, I’m so so happy it turned out well. My husband isn’t a huge soup fan (especially creamy soups) but he LOVED this soup! I used double of everything to make double the amount. I will say I’ll use a little less salt and about half the amount of pepper recommended next time (a bit hot lol)!

    Rating: 5
  13. oops forgot to rate it – this is 5 stars for sure!

    Rating: 5
  14. I am awaiting the soup with GREAT anticipation! It’s simmering away and awaiting the cheese. At my age all recipes are guidelines, but all I did differently was the sequencing (and to eyeball the measurements). I added paprika, cayenne and dry mustard to the roux and added the onion/garlic immediately after the broth. I used 2% milk, only because I didn’t have cream in the house. I found a new cheese at the supermarket yesterday that I am trying out – Pacific rock cheese – it’s a hard sharp orange cheese that should pick up my supermarket brand cheddar. Stay tuned….ok, so I didn’t time anything, but as soon as the veg were tender I added the cheese. Oh my! The taste, the colours! Very nice – will make this one again for sure.

  15. This did not disappoint. It was relatively easy to prepare and I stuck with the recommendation to use block extra sharp cheddar. Even my husband, who is anti-broccoli ate it!

    Rating: 5
  16. I made this soup this afternoon for a very tough crowd of food lovers. They responded with “this was excellent,” “comforting,” “a definite recipe keeper.” I made the recipe as is with no alterations and it turned out fantastic. Thank you for the recipe!

    Rating: 5
  17. Fantastic soup! Best broccoli cheese soup I’ve ever made. The only changes that were made was to use 2 tbsp better than bullion (chicken broth) with 2 cups water for the chicken broth and 3 cups whole milk instead of half and half. This will be in my permanent file. Thank you!

    Rating: 5
  18. Hi! Well I made the soup,
    Very very good, but I did it in the instant pot.

  19. So delicious, and I’m not a creamy soup kinda gal. My girls favorite and they loved it.

    Rating: 5
  20. This soup is amazing!!!

    Rating: 5
  21. Omg- I make this soup almost twice a month to take to work for lunch. It is so creamy and delicious. One of the best soups I have had and easy to make..

    Rating: 5
  22. I didn’t have half and half so I used one cup milk and one cup heavy whipping cream it turned out amazing.

    Rating: 5
  23. I made the recipe as written, with half and half. Two dinner guests said it was the best they’d ever had. I guess I make three. It was simply fantastic. I loved the larger chunks of broccoli.

    Rating: 5
  24. Can you make this in the morning and leave it in the crock pot on low?

  25. This was absolutely delicious and so easy! I have to admit I’ve never had Panera’s version (I usually opt for the chicken wild rice soup) but this was perfect. To make it gluten free, I skipped the flour and added 1/2 a head of chopped cauliflower and simmered that with the broth and half and half (I just left the onion and garlic in the pot) and pureed it with an immersion blender. That gave me a beautifully thickened base for the soup. Other than this change, I made the recipe as written. My husband hates cauliflower and was not thrilled when I told him I was making broccoli soup. However, he commented how good it actually was and went back for seconds! Total winner! Thanks for the recipe!

    Rating: 5
    • Thanks for the 5 star review and glad this was a total winner for you both! Great tip about how to make it gluten free, hopefully people reading over the comments since this question comes up a fair amount, will see how you handled it!

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