Slow Cooker Broccoli and Cheese Soup


Calling all Panera broccoli and cheese soup lovers! I’m popping in with a recipe for an easy, healthy Slow Cooker Broccoli and Cheese Soup that takes less than 10 minutes to prep and will make you feel just as warm and toasty as the Panera original. Watch the short, 45-second video above to see the soup being made, then read on below for the scoop on how this recipe came to be.

Easy Crockpot Broccoli Cheese Soup Recipe! No need to make a cheese sauce first—just put all the ingredients in your slow cooker and let it do the work! @wellplated

I originally posted this recipe on the last day of a trip I took to Charleston, South Carolina with this guy. (If you’re heading to Charleston soon, be sure to check out my Charleston restaurant and activity guide.) I decided to reshare the recipe today, because it’s become a true reader favorite, and because I’m once again in the midst of a crazy travel spree, which is exactly how this easy Slow Cooker Broccoli Cheese Soup recipe was inspired.

When I think back on our trip to Charleston, the first thing that comes to mind is ALL THE FOOD. We chose the city based on its reputation as a foodie paradise, and it did not disappoint. If you followed along on Instagram or Snapchat (@wellplated), you witnessed a portion of the mass seafood/soul food havoc the two of us wreaked. I say “portion” because, by the end of the trip, the culinary consumption reached a level I was embarrassed to continue posting.

For me, eating and drinking is, quite literally, my favorite way to gain a taste for a city. While I loved every bite and sip of our trip, whenever I return from vacation, it’s with an acute craving for wholesome foods and green veggies.

I also return to an inbox stuffed with unread emails and a dresser devoid of clean underwear. Reality, we have arrived.

The BEST and EASIEST Slow Cooker Broccoli and Cheese Soup that's even better than Panera's! Made with lots of fresh veggies and cheddar, and it's always a crowd favorite!

This easy Slow Cooker Broccoli and Cheese Soup is the perfect recipe for when you are in need of a healthy meal but have zero time to cook it, a position I’m in now. I’ve been out of town the past two weekends and leave again this Thursday. I adore traveling, but whenever I am out of town back-to-back weeks, the “no time to cook” song  becomes a refrain. I suspect that, on many a busy weeknight, it’s one you sing too.

Nearly every broccoli and cheese soup recipe I’ve found calls for the initial step of making a base cheese sauce on the stove, including recipes designed for the crock pot. Because I know we don’t always have time to fuss with this kind of prep, I decided to see if I could create a slow cooker broccoli and cheese soup entirely via the “dump and go” method: dump the ingredients into your crock pot; walk away; return hours later to a dinner that’s ready to serve.

The Best Ever Slow Cooker Broccoli and Cheese Soup. Easy, healthy and everyone loves it! @wellplated

I almost made it. Although you can skip the cheese sauce and I’d still bet my last spoonful that this is the easiest broccoli and cheese soup recipe you’ll find, you do need to blend the soup with an immersion blender or food processor prior to serving. It’s a small extra step that’s well worth the effort for the texture and body it provides.

My all-time favorite recipe for delicious Broccoli Cheese Soup! Slow cooker recipe that's super quick and easy. Made with lots of fresh broccoli and cheddar, and always a crowd pleaser! @wellplated

The flavor of this soup is a dead-ringer for Panera’s broccoli cheese soup, and although its texture is a bit thinner than I’d originally envisioned (a result of skipping that fussy cheese sauce base), I still found it to be plenty cheesy and satisfying.

Tools I used to make this recipe:

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Slow Cooker Broccoli and Cheese Soup

The most easy and healthy recipe for Broccoli and Cheese Soup you’ll find! Made with lots of fresh veggies, cheddar, and your crock pot does all the work.

Yield: Serves 6

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 2 hours (on high) to 6 hours (on low)

Ingredients:

  • 5 cups chopped broccoli florets (about 16 ounces)
  • 1 cup grated carrots (you can grate yourself or use bagged, pre-cut julienne carrots)
  • 1 medium yellow onion, finely diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 ounces reduced fat cream cheese (do not use fat free)
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 2 1/2 cups reduced sodium chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1 (12-ounce) can 2% evaporated milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 (8-ounce) block sharp cheddar cheese, grated*

Directions:

  1. Place the broccoli, carrots, onion, and garlic in the bottom of 5-to-6-quart slow cooker. Top with the cream cheese, oregano, nutmeg, and chicken broth. Stir to evenly distribute the ingredients. Cover and cook on high for 2 hours or low for 4-6 hours, until the broccoli is tender.
  2. Remove the lid and stir in the evaporated milk. With an immersion blender, puree about 3/4 of the soup, so that it is mostly smooth but still has a few chunks of broccoli remaining. Alternatively, you can puree the soup in 1 cup-sized batches in a food processor or blender. (Be careful—it’s hot and prone to splatter!)
  3. Recover the soup and let cook on low for 10 minutes until warmed through. Stir the salt, pepper, and grated cheese. Taste and add additional salt and pepper as desired. Recover and cook on high until the cheese is fully melted and the soup is hot, about 5 additional minutes. Serve warm.

The type of cheese you use is very important to this recipe. I highly advise grating your own from the block, as many brands of pre-grated, bagged cheese are coated with starch to prevent sticking. While convenient, this starch can prevent the cheese from melting smoothly. I also recommend using regular, not light cheese for this reason—reduced fat cheese sometimes does not melt as well.

All images and text ©/Well Plated.

Nutrition Facts

Serving Size: 1 of 6 (about 1 1/2 cups)

  • Amount Per Serving:
  • Calories: 272
  • Total Fat: 16g
  • Saturated Fat: 8g
  • Cholesterol: 59mg
  • Sodium: 806mg
  • Carbohydrates: 16g
  • Fiber: 1g
  • Sugar: 9g
  • Protein: 18g

If you like this easy Slow Cooker Broccoli and Cheese Soup recipe, you’ll love these other soup recipes too!

Butternut Squash Apple Soup. A healthy and easy butternut squash soup recipe. Perfect for freezing and reheating!

Butternut Squash Apple Soup with Parmesan Croutons

Spicy Slow Cooker Cheddar Cheese Soup

Slow Cooker Jalapeño Cheddar Cheese Soup

Easy Healthy Creamy Chicken Noodle Soup

Creamy Chicken Noodle Soup

Easy Taco Soup. Ready in 10 minutes and less than $1.50 a serving!

Easy Taco Soup

you find that broccoli? I’m so glad you asked. I grabbed it (and all of the other ingredients I used in this recipe) at Pick ‘N Save, my local grocery store. In fact, if you live in the city of Milwaukee, you can actually find this healthy, easy broccoli and cheese soup printed on a recipe card inside Pick ‘n Save stores!

I am sharing this post in partnership with Pick ‘n Save. As always, all opinions are my own. Thanks for supporting the brands and companies that make it possible for me to continue providing high quality content to you!

About Erin Clarke

I'm fearlessly dedicated to making healthy food taste incredible. Wearer of plaid, lover of bourbon, and firmly convinced that sweets and veggies both deserve a place at the table. MORE ABOUT ERIN...

97 comments

  1. Charleston is such a magical place and the food scene there is world class.  It  sounds like you had the opportunity to indulge in a lot of what the city has to offer in the culinary space.  But alas we all must return to reality and. . . this soup.   What a great way to transition back into the daily grind.  I’ve been giving my slow cooker quite the workout as of late. . .and interestingly enough I was wanting to make a healthy broccoli soup.  The timing for this post couldn’t be perfect.   

  2. oh yummy! This looks so good!

  3. oh gurl. i too had broccoli soup on the blog mind today too!! yours looks sooo delish. and i am very jealous of your charleston trip! can’t wait for the full recap. I was there years ago for a bach and it was the best. xo

  4. This soup looks so creamy and comforting! It’s definitely soup season around here because everyone is getting sick on campus- I would so love a bowl of this right about now :)

  5. I’m still on the fence about buying a slow cooker, though if it means I can make delicious soups like this then it’s definitely a huge plus in favour of getting one! Looks delicious =)

  6. A girl after my own heart! Broccoli cheese soup is always my go-to, and I’m so glad to have a recipe I can make ahead! Can’t wait to make this!

  7. JJ from the Plane Reply

    Erin,
    It was a pleasure flying with you and your husband. Sorry if I snored…long week! I hope you guys enjoyed your stay in Charleston and were entertained by our airport. Your blog is fun, and I’ll be sure to keep reading!

  8. Broccoli cheese soup is a favorite around here! Love that you made it healthier!

  9. We made this last night for dinner and I ate a bowl for breakfast. If that doesn’t tell you how good this is I just don’t know what does! :) 
    This is a keeper!

    Rating: 5
  10. Looks delicious.!! Thanks for a great recipe..👍🏻👍🏻😊😊

  11. My family really enjoyed this soup.  It was a terrific way to get my kids to eat some vegetables!  Thank you!

    Rating: 5
  12. if i cook this tonight before bed, will i be able to warm it up for lunch tomorrow? (not sure with the melted cheese in it)

  13. Can you substitute whipping cream for the canned milk?  I’m not so worried about the fat just trying to avoid as much processed products as possible

  14. Looks and sounds great! Question: What could I substitute for the cream cheese? Or could I just omit it? Cream cheese and I don’t get along. :)

    • Hi Suzy! Honestly, I think it would be hard to find a substitute for the cream cheese. The soup will be a bit thinner if you omit it, but if this doesn’t bother you, you can just leave it out.

    • You could always coat the veggies in flour before you add the broth. It will give it a thicker texture. Or if you have the time you could make a roux. 

      • Thanks for the suggestion Samantha! I’ve never tried the recipe this way, but it would be a good experiment. If you decide to try the soup this way, I’d love to hear how it comes out.

  15. Do you think frozen veggies would be ok for this?

    • Holly, I’ve never tried this recipe with frozen veggies, so it would be an experiment, but I don’t see why it wouldn’t work. The soup might be a bit more liquidy though, since the veggies will thaw in the slow cooker. I’d suggest reducing the amount of liquid in the soup, then checking the cooking time early. I hope you enjoy the recipe!

  16. Jorene Slowinski Reply

    Have you tried freezing this recipe and if so how did it turn out?

    • Jorene, it’s been a while since I made this, but I’m fairly certain that I froze it and that it turned out just fine! The only soup recipes I really have trouble freezing are those that call for coconut milk because it tends to solidify and not thaw properly.

  17. Hi, do I have to use evaporated milk, or could I use slightly less than 2 cups of regular milk?

    • Hi Susan! I apologize—I thought I responded to this. I recommend the evaporated because it is thicker and will yield a creamier soup. If you don’t mind a thinner consistency, regular milk will be fine. I hope you enjoy it!

  18. Hi Victoria! Regarding nutritional info, this is something that I’ve actually started adding to all of my new recipes, effective January 2016 (you’ll see it in the recipe box at the bottom). Unfortunately, it’s pretty time consuming, so I’m unable to go back and add it to past recipes. If you’d like the nutritional info for any of my older recipes (or really any other recipe or food), you can actually calculate it yourself for free at myfitnesspal.com (this is how I calculate the new recipes on my blog). I’m sorry I can’t give you the information for this exact recipe, but I hope that My Fitness Pal will be a helpful resource for you.

  19. Woow!!! Just made your brocoli soup and it was absolutley delicious. my daughter is very hard to make her eat and she asked for more!!! Best soup ever!!  You gained a follower!

    Rating: 5
  20. Tried this recipe tonight and it was fantastic! Didn’t have nutmeg on hand but I still thought it was really rich and flavorful. Great recipe, thanks for sharing!

    Rating: 4.5
  21. When do I add the evaporated milk? Making this recipe today and can’t seem to find it in the directions.

  22.  I noticed someone asked if they could replace the whipping cream with something else. But there is no whipping cream in the ingredients only evaporated milk so I was a little confused about that. 

  23. Never mind my last comment. I just realized I read it wrong 

  24. Hi!  Question: I’m making this as the recipe states, but am curious why we need to dice onion and shred carrots if I’m going to use an immersion blender.  Is it to release flavors differently?  Or, could I put in larger chunks of veggies assuming they’ll soften while cooking? 

    Thanks! 

    • Hi Haylea! I found that cutting the veggies that size is what gave me the cook time specified the recipe in the end. You can leave them larger, but the soup will take longer to cook. It’s up to you!

      • Erin –

        Is it possible to puree or finely chop all the veggies up front in the food processor so I don’t have to use an immersion blender afterwards?

        • Hi Sheri! I actually would not recommend this. The blending is to thicken the soup, not just to chop the veggies smaller. Without blending, the soup will be more brothy, vs. creamy. I hope that helps to answer your question!

  25. Also, what if I have frozen broccoli!?

    • Sorry for all the typos. I am rushing to get things done during nap time.

      • Hi Katie! Frozen broccoli should work, though its texture will be a bit “mushier” than if you use fresh. Also, the ad shouldn’t be blocking the recipe—it’s in the box but won’t cover text. Try refreshing the page and/or clearing out your browser’s cache. 

  26. Can I used pre-ground nutmeg as a substitute for freshly grated and if so, does the measurement change?

  27. I’m curious if you can freeze everything prior to cooking. I’m meal prepping and don’t need to cook it today. Would the brocolli get saggy?

    • Hi Renée! Please see the prior comments about using frozen broccoli. I think the same would apply if you prep things in advance, then froze them. I hope you enjoy the recipe!

  28. This was just okay to me. Wished I had used chicken stock instead of vegetable because it throws the flavor off. I added some parmesan cheese to amp up the flavor because it was so bland tasting. The real flavor of broccoli just doesn’t shine through this recipe as I am used to in my older recipe and I don’t understand why.

    • Hi Carol! I’m sorry you didn’t love this recipe as much as you hoped. As you can see from the prior comments, it’s been quite popular with other readers, but everyone has different tastes, and I know it’s disappointing to try a new recipe and not have it be as expected. My guess is the flavors were more muted due to the inherent flavor loss that happens with any that vegetables are made in a slow cooker vs. on the stove top. Also, because they are not sauteed first, some flavor loss happens that way (it’s a sacrifice I made in the recipe for the sake of easy prep). The parmesan sounds like a great addition. Also, be sure to use reduced sodium (vs. salt free) broth, as that will impact the flavor too. You may have done that already, but I wanted to call it to your attention just in case.

  29. hey girl this looks so yummy!

  30. Patricia Heinrichs Reply

    Just made your recipe. Loved it.  The nutmeg was a nice surprise   

    Rating: 5
  31. I was wondering if anyone knows how this keeps in the refrigerator and/or freezer? I am making the whole thing for just 2 of us and was wondering how to best keep it. Thank you!

  32. OMG !  This Soup is Fabulous !
    The receipt came through on my Pinterest Site.
    I saw this last night and NEW i had to make it.  
    I added more broccoli and carrots………I only added more Chicken Stock………..
    Otherwise I followed the directions.  (I Used the Blender at the end to Blend veggies……but still kept it chunky ).
    I cut scallions for garnish and toasted a crusty rustic bread with butter !  RAVES !  
    Easy…….and GUILT FREE, sorta !  

    Rating: 5
  33. How long do you cook this in crock pot for? And do you set on high or low?

  34. Love Love Love this recipe! The blending is such a fabulous idea. Healthier and makes the texture just perfect!

  35. Hi Kathy! Bubbles can occur depending on how the blender is used (for example, if it’s close to the surface, it will suck in some air, if that makes sense). They should settle down fairly quickly though.

  36. I made the slow cooker broccoli and cheese soup this weekend and it turned out great. I really appreciate that you provide the nutritional information. Thank you.

    Rating: 5
  37. Hi Sheila! Sorry for the miss—it’s updated now. Thanks for letting me know! Both should be broth, though you can use either for the recipe. I hope you enjoy it very much!

  38. I’m making this RIGHT NOW, but I accidentally loaded everything into the slow cooker at the same time. Fingers crossed it turns out okay.

  39. I was wondering why you need to use reduce fat and not fat free?

  40. When do you add broccoli to chicken noodle soup in a slow cooker, so the broccoli is not over cooked

    • Hi Justin, I can’t say for sure with a chicken noodle soup recipe. My best guess is that you’d probably want to add it toward the end of the overall cooking time so the broccoli doesn’t turn mushy.

  41. This soup was so good!! I love that it has tons of veggies in it. I was so surprised by the flavor, it is spot on to the Panera brocolli cheddar soup!

    Rating: 5
    • Thanks, Sammie! I’m so glad you enjoyed the recipe, and I appreciate your taking the time to leave this nice comment!

  42. Did you ever make this with chicken? Do you think I could throw chicken in the crock pot too?

    • Hi Lisa, I haven’t added chicken to the recipe before, so I can’t say for sure! I think if you wanted to try it, you’d want to add bite-size pieces of already-cooked chicken to the crockpot *after* blending the soup in step 2, then warm it up for 10 minutes as instructed before adding the salt, pepper, and cheese. If you try it out, I’d love to hear how it goes!

  43. Going to make this for a family Christmas party so I was going to double it. How long would you suggest cooking it for double the batch? Thank you!

    • Hi Brooke, I’m not quite sure since I’ve never doubled the recipe before! I would suggest checking it according to the specified times in the recipe, then check it every 15 to 30 minutes from there depending on how much longer it seems the vegetables need. I hope you enjoy it!

  44. May I ask what brand and/or version (medium, sharp, extra sharp, SUPER sharp, etc.) of cheddar cheese you use? I’m still struggling with find a good one that melts well for many recipes.

    • Hi Traci, I love sharp cheddar grated right off the block (full fat when melting is really critical). I buy all sorts of different brands. The main thing to remember is not to buy pre-shredded. It has a starch on it to keep it from caking that causes the cheese to melt less smoothly.

  45. Our entire family loves this soup, even my picky toddler! THANK YOU!

    Rating: 5
  46. Hi Diana, I’m sorry to hear that you didn’t enjoy this recipe. As you can see from the other reviews, many have liked it very much, but everyone has different tastes. I know it’s disappointing to try something new and not have it turn out, so I truly wish you would have loved this.

  47. I’m a big fan of using the slow cooker, but not when you have to do a lot of work in addition to that. So I was really excited to try this recipe. We made it a few months ago and LOVED it!!! My husband didn’t leave a drop in his bowl. (Panera’s broccoli and cheddar was his favorite until we tried this.) I made it exactly as written, except I used cheese that was already shredded. So easy to make, tasty, and easy to adapt! Looking forward to having this again tonight :) Thank you for sharing.

    Rating: 5
    • I’m thrilled to hear this recipe was a winner for you, Amy! Thank you so much for giving it a try and taking the time to leave this wonderful review!

  48. Prepared this for our dinner tonight. It was delicious. Wouldn’t change a thing!

    Rating: 5
    • I’m so glad you enjoyed the soup, Karen! And I appreciate your taking the time to leave this lovely review. Thank you!

  49. This was absolutely delicious!! Very easy to make (which says A LOT coming from me)!! I used vegetable broth and it was perfect! I do wish it was a little thicker because I love how creamy the Panera soup is, but you still can’t beat that taste!! Thanks for the recipe!!

    Rating: 5
    • Kaitlyn, I’m so happy to hear you enjoyed the soup! Thank YOU for taking the time to share your feedback and leave this wonderful review!

  50. I loved this! Very easy to make. Thanks, Erin :)

    Rating: 5
    • Vickie, I’m so glad you enjoyed this recipe! Thanks so much for taking the time to leave this awesome review!

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