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

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The Best Broccoli Cheese Soup — 🥦🧀🤤 Make the best soup of your life at home in 1 hour! It’s creamy, CHEESY, and loaded with tender pieces of broccoli! 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!!

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 lightened it up 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 broth or stock
  • Half and half
  • Broccoli florets 
  • Carrots
  • Spices
  • Extra sharp cheddar cheese

Note: Scroll down to the recipe card section of the post for the ingredients with amounts included and for more complete directions.

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 cheese and broccoli 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. Add the garlic, cook, then remove from heat.
  2. In a large heavy-bottom pot, add the remaining butter, flour, and cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, until flour is thickened. 
  3. Slowly add the vegetable stock, whisking constantly, then the half and half. Let simmer over low heat until it has reduced and thickened some.
  4. Add the broccoli, carrots, spices, and the onion and garlic you previously set aside.
  5. Allow soup to simmer for about 20 to 25 minutes. 
  6. 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.

Tip for Softening the Vegetables

If you prefer very soft broccoli and carrots, you can either steam them before you add them to the pot and/or make sure the broccoli florets are quite small and the carrots are cut into very thin pieces.

I’ve never found pre-steaming necessary because the soup continues to simmer for 20-25 minutes after adding the broccoli and carrots, which is ample time for me personally for them to soften to my liking. However, in case you prefer very soft vegetables, steaming and/or paying closer attention to their size is an option.

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

Soup FAQs

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.

Can I Use less broccoli? What About the stalks?

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.

Can the spices be omitted?

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.

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

Storage and Reheating

To store: Soup will keep in an airtight container for 5 to 7 days in the fridge. 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.

To reheat: Reheat gently in the microwave for 30-second intervals. I find the soup is less likely to ‘break’ or separate when reheated in the microwave rather than on the stovetop, but do what you think is best. 

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4.86 from 793 votes

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

🥦🧀🤤 Make the best soup of your life at home in 1 hour! It's creamy, CHEESY, and loaded with tender pieces of broccoli! Beyond words amazing and WAY better than Panera!
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
Servings: 6 cups
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Ingredients  

  • 1 tablespoon + 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
  • 1 small or medium sweet yellow onion, diced small
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled and minced finely
  • ¼ 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 cup broccoli stems, diced into bite-size pieces (optional)**
  • 2 large carrots, trimmed, peeled, and sliced into very thin rounds, about 1/16th-inch
  • ¾ teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • ¾ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
  • ½ teaspoon smoked paprika , (or regular paprika) optional and to taste
  • ½ 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 extra-sharp cheddar cheese, with a small amount reserved for garnishing***

Instructions 

  • 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.
  • Add the garlic and cook about 30 seconds, stirring constantly so it doesn’t burn. Remove from heat and set pan aside.
  • 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.
  • Slowly add the vegetable stock, whisking constantly.
  • Slowly add the half-and-half, whisking constantly.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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. Stir in the cheese until melted and incorporated fully, less than 1 minute.
  • Transfer soup to bowls, garnish with reserved cheese, and serve immediately.

Notes

*Half and half: Whole milk or 2% milk will also work but soup won’t be as creamy. I used fat-free half-and-half to reduce the fat amount.
**Broccoli: I used 3 cups florets and 1 cup stems. The fibrous stems are great in soups! 
***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.
Storage: Soup will keep airtight for 5 to 7 days in the fridge. 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.
To reheat: 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. 

Nutrition

Serving: 1, Calories: 415kcal, Carbohydrates: 24g, Protein: 17g, Fat: 30g, Saturated Fat: 18g, Trans Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 86mg, Sodium: 682mg, Fiber: 6g, Sugar: 7g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

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4.86 from 793 votes (205 ratings without comment)

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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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  1. 5 stars
    I loved it, as always. Haven’t found one yet haven’t liked. Thank you for your time and efforts..