Broccoli Cheddar Soup, you are one of the Great Comfort Foods of our time.

Creamy broccoli cheddar soup in a bowl

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Creamy and cozy this healthy version of broccoli cheddar soup is inspired by the infamous bowl at Panera Bread, a soup that has now been enjoyed by multiple generations of our family.

One of the most fun parts of being an aunt is seeing my nieces fall for the same foods I loved as a kid, which lately means trips to Panera.

My orders have evolved over the years (meaning I now order things for lunch besides a bagel with double cream cheese), but a constant when the weather turns cool is the cheesy broccoli soup.

That soup has inspired recipes here, from Instant Pot Broccoli Cheese Soup, to Slow Cooker Broccoli Cheese Soup, to this dual Broccoli Cauliflower Soup.

Two pieces of bread in a bowl of broccoli cheddar soup

While I’m all for making the most of kitchen gadgets, sometimes what you need is a classic stovetop soup. That is where this healthy broccoli cheese soup comes into play.

This vegetarian broccoli soup is warm and filling, but not so heavy that you need to recover with a nap afterward.

It’s the perfect soup to transition us through the seasons, where other Panera-inspired favorites like Crockpot Potato Soup and creamy Chicken Wild Rice Soup await on the other side.

Healthy broccoli cheddar soup in a bowl

How to Make Broccoli Cheddar Soup

This easy broccoli cheddar soup skips the fuss of making a roux.

Instead, the creaminess comes from cauliflower, which thickens soups without adding many calories or carbs (try it in Cauliflower Chowder, yum!).

Smooth, Melty Broccoli Cheddar Soup

My other trick to making a rich, creamy broccoli cheddar soup that’s good for you is one I borrowed from Cheese Fondue.

  • Toss the cheese shreds with cornstarch prior to adding them to the soup.
  • The cornstarch thickens the soup, without the need for heavy cream.

And like cheese fondue, YOU MUST ADD THE CHEESE SLOWLY!

Unless you are making broccoli cheddar soup with Velveeta (please don’t—real cheddar tastes so much better and is better for you too!), if your cheese won’t melt in your broccoli cheddar soup, you likely committed one of these errors.

  • Adding the cheese too quickly. As with Instant Pot Mac and Cheese, if you add too much cheese at once, it will lump up and refuse to melt.
  • Using pre-shredded cheese from a bag. While convenient, pre-shredded, bagged cheeses contain a powdered coating to keep them from clumping. It also keeps them from melting. Grate the cheese yourself from the block for smooth, melty broccoli and cheddar soup. It’s worth it!

The Ingredients

  • Broccoli. Rich in vitamins and minerals, broccoli is incredibly nutritious. It also pairs wonderfully with cheese to create a scrumptious, crowd-pleasing soup.
  • Cauliflower. A healthier way to make the soup thick and creamy. Cauliflower is packed with vitamins and fiber. You can’t taste it here, but it’s an important thickener.
  • Carrots. I like to sneak in some extra nutrition and sweetness by adding carrots.
  • Butter + Onion. These two work together to develop a delicious flavor base.
  • Chicken Broth. The main liquid source for the soup, and it also helps cook the vegetables.
  • Milk. The key to a rich and creamy broccoli soup. I used 2% milk.

Substitution Tip

For a richer soup, use whole milk or half-and-half.

  • Dijon. Adds tang and helps elevate the cheesy flavor.
  • Nutmeg + Cayenne. A hint of nutmeg adds an almost imperceptible warmth, but it really makes all the difference. While the cayenne is optional, I love that it gives the soup a little kick.
  • Extra Sharp Cheddar Cheese. For the most intense and satisfying cheese flavor, you need to use extra sharp cheddar cheese.
  • Cornstarch. Tossing the cheese with cornstarch helps thicken the soup to the perfect consistency.
  • Parmesan. For an added layer of salty, nutty, cheesy goodness.

The Directions

Onions in a pot
  1. Cook the onion with butter, salt, and pepper.
Chopped cauliflower, broccoli, and carrots in a pot
  1. Stir in the carrot, broccoli, cauliflower, and garlic.
Vegetables being cooked for broccoli cheddar soup
  1. Pour in the broth.
Vegetables in a pot with broth
  1. Let simmer until the vegetables are tender.
An immersion blender in a pot
  1. Puree the soup.
Milk being stirred into broccoli cheddar soup
  1. Heat the soup over low heat, then stir in the milk, mustard, nutmeg, and cayenne (if using).
Cheese coated in cornstarch
  1. Toss the cheddar with the cornstarch.
A bowl of broccoli cheddar soup with cheese on top
  1. Add the cheese to the soup a little at a time. Stir in the Parmesan. DIG IN!

Storage Tips

  • To Store. Refrigerate soup in an airtight storage container for up to 5 days.
  • To Reheat. Rewarm leftovers in a pot on the stovetop over medium-low heat or in the microwave.
  • To Freeze. Freeze soup in an airtight, freezer-safe storage container for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.

Meal Prep Tip

Up to 1 day in advance, shred the cheese and chop the vegetables. Refrigerate each ingredient in a separate airtight storage container until you’re ready to finish the recipe.

What to Serve with Broccoli Cheddar Soup

Recommended Tools to Make this Recipe

  • Dutch Oven. Perfect for making this cheesy broccoli soup.
  • Immersion Blender. Easily blends soups without having to transfer them from the pot.
  • Cheese Grater. Use this tool to easily grate your own cheese.

The Best Dutch Oven

This lifetime piece will quickly become a staple in your kitchen. It can be used on the stovetop or in the oven.

Creamy broccoli cheddar soup in a bowl

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All that’s missing is the bread bowl.

A big dunk with No Knead Focaccia should do it!

Frequently Asked Questions

What Can I Do with Leftover Soup?

Leftover broccoli cheddar soup makes a delicious topping for a baked potato. Try spooning the soup over the top of an Air Fryer Baked Potato or Crock Pot Baked Potatoes. You can also take inspiration from my Chicken Broccoli Rice Casserole and serve the soup over Instant Pot Brown Rice and diced Grilled Chicken Breast.

Can I Make Vegetarian Broccoli Cheddar Soup?

Yes! To make this recipe vegetarian, swap the chicken broth for vegetable broth.

How Do You Keep Broccoli Cheddar Soup from Getting Grainy?

To avoid that dreaded grainy broccoli cheese soup texture, don’t let it get too hot too fast once you’ve added the cheese. Make sure your soup stays at a simmer over low heat while you’re adding the cheese. It’s also important to add your cheese very slowly to avoid the grainy texture (I dive into this more in the blog post above).

Creamy broccoli cheddar soup in a bowl

Broccoli Cheddar Soup

5 from 1 vote
This cheesy, creamy broccoli cheddar soup tastes like Panera and is made with healthy ingredients! The perfect comfort food.

Prep: 30 mins
Cook: 45 mins
Total: 1 hr 15 mins

Servings: 4 to 6 servings

Ingredients
  

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 small yellow onion finely chopped
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 3 carrots scrubbed and cut into 1/2 to 3/4-inch pieces
  • 8 cups broccoli florets about 2 heads
  • 3 cups cauliflower florets about 12 ounces or 1 small head
  • 2 cloves garlic minced, about 2 teaspoons
  • 4 cups low sodium chicken broth or vegetable broth
  • 1/2 cup 2% milk whole milk, or half-and-half (the higher the fat, the richer the soup)
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard to taste (I use 2)
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • Pinch cayenne pepper optional
  • 4 ounces extra sharp cheddar cheese shredded (about 1 cup), plus additional for serving, do not use pre-shredded cheese, which does not melt as smoothly
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan or 3 tablespoons nutritional yeast

Instructions
 

  • In a large Dutch oven or similar large, sturdy soup pot, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the onion, salt, and black pepper. Cook until the onion softens and begins to turn translucent, adjusting the heat as needed so it becomes tender but does not brown, about 5 to 8 minutes.
  • Add the carrot, broccoli, cauliflower, and garlic. Cook until the broccoli is very lightly sautéed and bright green, about 5 minutes.
  • Add the broth. Bring to a simmer over medium-high.
  • Reduce the heat to maintain a gentle simmer and cook, stirring periodically, until the vegetables are completely tender, about 15 minutes.
  • Puree the soup, either in batches in a blender (be careful not to overfill it—blenders love to splatter) or directly in the pot with an immersion blender. Leave the soup as chunky or as tender as you like.
  • Heat the pot over low. Stir in the milk (or half-and-half), mustard, nutmeg, and cayenne.
  • Place the cheddar in a bowl and sprinkle the cornstarch over the top. With your fingers, toss to coat the shreds evenly.
  • Working only 1 small handful at a time, add the cheese very slowly to the soup, stirring constantly and allowing the cheese to melt completely before the next addition. Stir in the Parmesan. Taste and adjust the seasoning as desired. Enjoy warm with crusty bread and additional cheese sprinkled on top.

Notes

  • TO STORE: Refrigerate soup in an airtight storage container for up to 5 days.
  • TO REHEAT: Rewarm leftovers in a pot on the stovetop over medium-low heat or in the microwave.
  • TO FREEZE: Freeze soup in an airtight, freezer-safe storage container for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.

Nutrition

Serving: 1(of 4)Calories: 363kcalCarbohydrates: 30gProtein: 22gFat: 20gSaturated Fat: 11gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 0.3gCholesterol: 51mgPotassium: 1261mgFiber: 8gSugar: 9gVitamin A: 9322IUVitamin C: 203mgCalcium: 428mgIron: 2mg

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Erin Clarke

Hi, I'm Erin Clarke, and I'm fearlessly dedicated to making healthy food that's affordable, easy-to-make, and best of all DELISH. I'm the author and recipe developer here at wellplated.com and of The Well Plated Cookbook. I adore both sweets and veggies, and I am on a mission to save you time and dishes. WELCOME!

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4 Comments

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  1. My family enjoyed this recipe, it was creamy and tasty! I poured the soup into blender, little by little to mix it up. I also prepped all my ingredients earlier in the day to make dinner time easy. Broccoli soup has also been a weekend dish around here and this is my new favorite recipe!5 stars

  2. I haven’t made this yet because I’m one with high blood pressure and heart surgery so I was wondering if you could let me know if it’s high in sodium it doesn’t list the sodium count.

    1. Hi Deborah! I stopped including sodium info because it can vary so much depending upon what products you used, and I found a lot of conflicting info online, so ultimately I didn’t feel comfortable publishing it because sometimes it wasn’t even in the ballpark. If you’d like to calculate it yourself, there are lots of free tools online (myfitnesspal.com is popular). I hope that helps!