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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1,137 comments on “The Best Broccoli Cheese Soup (Better-Than-Panera Copycat)”

  1. Wow! Delicious, easy to make, filling soup. My 3 boys (42, 7, and 4) loved this. When I make this again I will probably double the recipe; not a drop was left over. I also used chopped crispy bacon as a topping, yum!

    Rating: 5
  2. This soup was amazing! I needed to make it gluten free, so I tried all purpose gluten free flour, but it didn’t thicken. I added a tablespoon of corn starch, problem solved.

    Rating: 5
    • Thanks for the 5 star review and glad to hear that a bit of corn starch helped your soup to thicken since you were using GF flour. Other people often write in with this question so I am glad you shared your results!

  3. Best broccoli cheese soup recipe I’ve ever made- my kids loved it. My only change was adding a few pieces of chopped bacon I had leftover from breakfast. Next time I will double it so we have leftovers!

    Rating: 5
  4. Would this sit well in a crockpot for a few hours after it is made?

  5. Love this soup especially in cold weather like now, so I plan on making this soon but would it still work well if I use heavy cream?

  6. Is legitimately the best recipe for broccoli and cheese soup I’ve found. WELL DONE.I used my immersion blender to thin out the texture for my little ones. OMG it’s amazing. Thanks so much for sharing.

    Rating: 5
  7. Made this tonight for my family and parents. We all loved it!! Didn’t have any of the dry mustard on hand so had to leave it out, but turned out perfectly! This will be my go to recipe for broccoli cheddar soup!

    Rating: 5
  8. Excellent recipe! If I want to double it would I do it directly or reduce some ingredients? I made it as written and loved it! Wow!

    Rating: 5
  9. Great recipe! I’ve gotten so many compliments! I added two pieces of bacon (cut into small pieces) to the onions during the saute process and it made the soup even more delicious!

    Rating: 5
  10. I used finely shredded bag sharp cheddar and it melted in just fine. To save more time, frozen chopped broccoli works well also. I’ve made it three times. Each time I added to it. The second time I tried diced ham which was amazing. Then I added potatoes to make it more hardy and able to feed a family of 6 a little easier. Any way you make it, its a very good recipe.

    Rating: 5
  11. Excellent. Two thumbs up from hubby and 3 kids under 7!

    Rating: 5
  12. Definitely best soup ever!!! This is now my fifth or sixth time making this recipe and it is an absolute crowd pleaser! I have to double the recipe to feed all my kiddos though and it still comes out perfectly! I do add a cup of heavy cream to mine though, but even without…. it’s still super creamy!!! Thanks so much for this recipe!!

    Rating: 5
  13. So good! My three year daughter usually doesn’t eat broccoli but made this and she ate it all! I did use a hand blender and blended half so it was a bit of smooth and chunky. Will make again for sure!

    Rating: 5
  14. I hate that I found this recipe this soup is taking over. Made it once for my girlfriend and kid and now they wont stop asking for it. My two year old wakes me up in the morning saying “soup soup soup” over and over again. At least once a week my girlfriend says she wants it for dinner. I’m pretty sure the creator of this recipe is some kind of culinary sorceress.

    Rating: 5
  15. If you have 4 or more double the recipe save the time or you will not get any. Teenagers will eat you out of a home, lol. It really was that good.

    Rating: 5
  16. This was my first time to make this type of soup and I must say it was excellent. Very tasty. Will definitely make it again. Thank you for sharing.

    Rating: 5
  17. This was hands down the best soup ever!!! My kids didn’t think they would like it because it had carrots in it. Well, it ended up, they ate all of it! I was only left with what they couldn’t scoop out of the bottom! I will definitely make a double batch next time!

    Rating: 5
  18. So yummy! Just wanted to let everyone know they can save the dishes on the first step because you can 100% without messing up the recipe, make the roux with the onions and garlic already in the pan! :)

    Rating: 5
  19. Can you reheat the next day in a crockpot?

  20. I have never made cream based soups before, so when I searched for Broccoli and Cheese soup.. your recipe came up front and center. I made this for myself and my husband.. it was delicious, the spice combination is wonderful and added such a depth of flavour. Thank you so much for sharing this wonderful recipe, we will be enjoying it again.. Deserves MORE than 5 Stars.

    Rating: 5
  21. Hearty soup. No bad after taste. After making the soup I put it in a slow cooker to take to work. Great recipe.

    Rating: 5
  22. This was amazing even with the bagged cheese the only change I made was I used chicken broth and added diced potatoes. Where two teenagers in the house who don’t particularly take to soup this was an A+++. Thank you so much for sharing especially with the winter months quickly approaching. I will be trying this next in the Crock-Pot!

    Rating: 5
  23. Your recipe was delicious and made even more-so by adding the suggested spices. I used a combination of half and half and milk; it was exquisite. Thank you!

    Rating: 5
  24. I only have whole milk on hand, no cream or half and half. Has anyone made this with milk? Was it too thin?

  25. This turned out perfectly creamy and tastes absolutely delicious!

    Rating: 5

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