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

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 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.

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!!

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.

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

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.

Recipe Video Tutorial

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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!
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 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
  • 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 high quality 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. 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.
  • 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.

Notes

*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.

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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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.

Recipe Rating




Comments

  1. Would this freeze well so you think? I am looking for recipes that I can cook ahead and freeze to take to a friend going through a tough time. I want to stock the freezer with soups and casseroles. This one looks promising.

    1. Things that are cream based (and sometimes cheese based) tend to NOT actually be the greatest freezer meals, just as a broad tip in case you didn’t know that. With that said, I have had many readers over the years come back and say they froze the soup and it worked out fine. The issue is that upon thawing, the dairy could separate and it looks hideous, although will taste fine. To combat that, use normal half-and-half, maybe even with a splash of heavy cream, since fat is your friend in the freezer.

      https://www.averiecooks.com/tag/casserole-2/ all my casseroles. Not all are truly freezer friendly but you can pick and choose.

      https://www.averiecooks.com/category/soup-2/ all soups, again, pick and choose. Good luck, very kind of you to do this.

  2. 5 stars
    Lynne Hart again, I forgot to mention the kids won t eat broccoli, but they love this soup . Thank you for this great recipe.

  3. Tried every recipe I could find. The family just hated everyone, but this one. They loved it so much, I still make it once a week and they are not tired of it. We love it.
    I did leave out the mustard
    Because I did not remember to get it when I did the shopping. I guess the recipe is great without it.

    1. Thanks Lynne for letting me know that MY recipe is the one your family loved, and that the kids ate their broccoli, and that this is on repeat once a week! This is so great to hear!

  4. 5 stars
    I made this soup exactly as directed and it came out great! This will be my go to recipe for creamy broccoli soup for now on, just delicious!

    1. Thanks for the 5 star review, glad it was great exactly as written, and that it’ll be your go-to recipe for creamy broccoli soup from now on!

  5. 5 stars
    Delicious. I used 2% milk and made a homemade vegetable stock with all the vegetables scraps, it was so good. I loved the flavor from all the seasoning. I will definitely make again. Thank you for sharing!

    1. Thanks for the 5 star review, Bernadette, and that’s great you made this with your own homemade vegetable stock! I am glad you will make this recipe again!

  6. 5 stars
    Best broccoli cheese soup ever! We found it to be just a bit too rich and heavy with cream only so I kept the cream and thinned it a little with some whole milk. Couldn’t be better!

    1. Thanks for the 5 star review and I am glad you were able to thin it a bit and it came out to be the best broccoli cheese soup ever!

    2. 5 stars
      I actually used cream and not half-and-half like the recipe specifies, so no wonder it was on the heavy side! No matter, the addition of whole milk made it perfect. And the spices are just right.

      1. I was kind of wondering about that when you wrote your original comment like you did. Pure heavy cream would be, well, heavy yes I agree so glad you thinned it out and it all worked out!

        Whole milk + heavy cream = half-and-half

  7. 5 stars
    May I make a suggestion. If anyone is having a problem with the cheese being grainy yes use block cheese e and shred yourself and also before you put the cheese in turn off the heat and after about a minute or two add the cheese. Cheese tends to get stringy and break down when it’s too hot. Just am fyi.

    1. Yes I wholeheartedly agree. Shredding cheese yourself always produces a better result than buying pre-shredded in a bag.

    2. 4 stars
      I wish I would have read this before. I turned the stove off and put the freshly grated cheese and it did break down. I’m a little upset, time and money wasted. It was looking gorgeous right before :'(

      1. I am not sure what happened. If you grated your own cheese, it shouldn’t have broken down, in theory.

        However, it’s impossible to state with total certainty what could happen with every possible brand.

        In step 10 in the recipe card I am quite explicit about what to do and not do. And really the cheese is only added in the last minute so I am not sure what happened in your case. Thank you for trying the recipe.

  8. 5 stars
    Take it from an old country boy that tries to keep everything simple, this soup is UNREAL. I made it, tried to follow the directions as close as possible and I was simply AMAZED at how good it is. My wife and daughter absolutely loved it! Thanks for posting!!

    1. Thanks for the 5 star review and I’m glad that this was amazing for you and that your wife and daughter loved it too!

  9. 5 stars
    I normally really despise making roux, but this recipe was pretty darn easy. Even with browning the butter and a little overkill on the onion and garlic browning, this recipe came out delicious! I do like mine a tad thinner, but adding water took care of that. Great flavor and high marks for ease! Boo to all the ads that made scrolling or following the recipe a giant PITA.

    1. Thanks for the 5 star review and I’m glad that the soup had great flavor and was easy.

      Ads are what allow me to earn a living while providing free recipes. I wish I didn’t need them either but it’s what I need to have as a creator so that I can continue creating recipes.

  10. 5 stars
    I love this recipe and make it often but the website performs so poorly it’s ridiculous. Is it the ads? The design? I have no idea but it happens on all of my devices and I hope it can be fixed soon so I can enjoy looking at the recipes on this website!

    1. Can you be more specific what you mean by ‘performs so poorly’? Yes I have ads which is how/why my recipes are free. There is no way around ads unfortunately. But I am so glad you love this recipe and thanks for the review!

      Feel free to email me at averiecooks@gmail.com

  11. 5 stars
    Absolutely outstanding recipe even easy enough for a beginner! I added extra garlic and bok choy. Yum!
    I make soups every weekend and live on them throughout the week at work. Looking forward to this work week!

    1. Thanks for the 5 star review and I am so glad this was a winner, easy enough for a beginner, yet outstanding! And now you have work lunches for the week, too!

    1. Best comment I have received in ages! Thank you, Louis! I am so glad this was a huge hit and thank you for the 5 stars x 2!!!

  12. 5 stars
    Made this tonight for dinner as my daughter had been asking for a broccoli cheese soup. She has some dietary restrictions so I had to sub gluten free flour and almond heavy cream and it was still absolutely delicious! I will definitely be making this again!

    1. Thanks for the 5 star review and I am glad that you were able to make this GF and DF and it was delish and you’re making it again! Love hearing this!

    1. 1g is a very small amount. Like the size of a pea, give or take. However, if you’re asking because of the nutritional info, there’s a bit of a glitch with the stats where the serving size is 1g when it really means 1 cup. The recipe makes about 6 cups total, and each serving is about 1 cup.