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.

5
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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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967 comments on “The Best Broccoli Cheese Soup (Better-Than-Panera Copycat)”

  1. I made this and it was incredible! I ate the entire batch by myself in 2 days. I used 2% milk rather than the half and half and it was awesome. This recipe is a keeper!!

    Rating: 5
  2. Just made this tonight nearly exactly as the recipe states (I omitted the onion because I hate onion) and it was phenomenal! Thank you for this!

    Rating: 5
  3. Amazing.We love broccoli and cheese soup, however I have never made my own that I loved. Now I have! Thanks!! Followed the exact recipe as written and it was fantastic!

    Rating: 5
  4. I recently moved to the UK from the US, and of course there’s no Panera Bread here yet. I just made this recipe and I’m almost in tears. It tastes like long lines, jughandle traffic, and the beach – that East Coast life. Thank you so much for this one, the nostalgia is real – almost as real as my family’s delight!

    Rating: 5
  5. We live this soup but I had never made it before last night. Was a huge success!!

    Rating: 5
  6. Delicious! I had to add a little extra salt and I always use less pepper in any recipe. I used tillamook cheese, since I don’t know much about good cheeses. Amazing! Even 3 out of my 4 kids like it.

    Rating: 5
  7. I made this cheddar broccoli soup twice in one week. It’s perfect and delicious. Thank you for posting the recipe.

    Rating: 5
  8. Ok I rarely, actually never, comment on the recipes I find online. This soup, however, is exceptional. Possibly the best soup I’ve ever had. Thank you so much for providing it.

    Rating: 5
  9. Hi! My boyfriend asked me to make this soup and this recipe looks delicious. I was wondering what your thoughts would be about using coconut cream or another non-dairy milk instead of a cows milk?

    • If you read through the comments there are others who have used non-dairy milks. I would not use coconut milk though. Even though the taste is fairly faint…broccoli, cheese, and coconut are just flavors I don’t think would blend well together.

    • I would use Ripple brand cream instead of coconut cream since the sweetness of it would definitely clash with the soup flavor. (Ripple is dairy free, I have it at my grocery store but I’ve found it at Target as well)

  10. phenomenal! Creamy and sooo satisfying. I have a new go-to for broccoli cheddar soup. 🥰

    Rating: 5
  11. Super delicious! I used Old Croc’s Extra Sharp Cheddar, which was yummy enough to eat while I was grating it. Only difference was making my own half-and-half by subbing 1 cup heavy cream and 1 cup extra protein cashew/almond blend milk (which is what we typically have on hand). No problems!

    Rating: 5
  12. Really really good. Like I don’t have leftovers and everyone licked their bowls clean good. We will definitely be making this again and look forward to the tomato soup recipe too!

    Rating: 5
  13. I was thrilled to find that fat-free half and half worked beautifully in this creamy, yummy soup. I made a few tweaks: added about a 0.75 cup of chicken stock to thin it a bit and soften the strong cheese flavor. Also added a cup of cooked chicken breast, teaspoon of nutmeg, skipped the optional spices. So good! Thanks for another keeper.

    Rating: 5
  14. I used Ms Dash instead of the spices. I cup heavy cream and 1 cup regular milk. It was great. The only complaint is that broccolli and carrots weren’t tender enough. Will cook them slightly ahead of time next batch

    Rating: 4
  15. I made this for my family and they absolutely loved it. My mother-in-law said it was better than Panera.

    Rating: 4
  16. Great soup! Made it 3 times, last 2 with my preferences. Made it a one pot meal. Cooked 3 potatoes tender, wiped out pot and cooked onions, shredded carrots and garlic in full butter amount. Only used 2 tables.flour, mixed it in with cooked onion mix. This thickened soup up just right for me. Used Better Than Bouillon chicken instead of vegetable broth. Steamed the broccoli until just tender. Then added it and potatoes into pot. I only used 4ozs of cheese. The spices are perfect in this soup.Even better next day.

    Rating: 5
  17. This soup is requested from my family once a week. Even the grade school boys love it!

    Rating: 5
  18. Yes this recipe lives up to its name. I tried another soup recipe and it was not good. My daughter loves the broccoli cheese soup at Panera so I was trying to duplicate it, AND THIS IS IT! The only thing I did different due to personal taste was add about 1/4 cup onion instead of a small onion. I followed the rest to a tee. Thank you for this recipe!

    Rating: 5
  19. This soup is as good as it gets I made it exactly as per recipe. Sooo good

  20. Not fan of the color from the vegetable broth. Otherwise good. Chicken broth next time.

    Rating: 4
  21. This recipe is sooooo yummy!! It has become a staple in my house… we are having lots of rain in Southern California and this hits the spot! My daughter pours it over medium pasta shells and makes a next level Mac and cheese!How would I make a double batch? I’m unsure of how to make a roux for a double batch.Thanks!

    Rating: 5
    • Thanks for the 5 star review and I’m glad you love the soup and that your daughter makes a next level mac and cheese with it!

      If you are doubling the recipe, just double all the ingredients as called for in the recipe, including the roux.

  22. Okay I have been craving some Cheddar Broccoli soup. I just made this soup & let’s hope I leave some for tomorrow. Oh my gosh it is soooo delish! Thank you for the recipe :-)

    Rating: 5
  23. This recipe was simply amazing. I’ve only made broccoli cheddar soup a few times and can’t remember it tasting this good. This will be my go to recipe from now on. The only changes I made was I used chicken broth instead of vegetable broth and two cloves of garlic and one carrot. This is an excellent recipe!!!!

    Rating: 5
  24. I can’t wait to make this today, however, I have Celiac. Do you think GF flour would work well? I am not sure if I should use the same amount as called for with the regular flour. Or cornstarch? New to this GF world! Thanks

    • Read over some of the comments – others have done this with GF flour although I personally have not so I can’t speak from experience but if you read over the previous comments you can probably get some clues as to what they did.

  25. Really delicious and very moreish! Had to convince my husband to leave enough to enjoy tomorrow.

    Rating: 5

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