My homemade Broccoli Cheddar Soup tastes like Panera’s, only better! This top-rated recipe is quick and simple with just 15 minutes of prep before coming together on the stove. Includes a how-to video!
Better-Than-Panera Broccoli Cheddar Soup
Creamy, cheesy, flavored with butter and freshly shredded cheddar cheese…can you think of a better way to eat broccoli? This broccoli cheddar soup is true cold weather comfort food; it’s hearty, easy, and quick–perfect for weeknight dinners or a snow day lunch. If you’re a fan of Panera’s broccoli cheese soup, you’re going to love this one!
My recipe starts with a simple roux for a thick and creamy final product. Don’t be intimidated by this! If you’ve made my baked mac and cheese, (insanely popular) potato soup or chicken corn chowder, you’ve done this before. After melting the butter and sautéing the onion, we’ll simply whisk flour into the pot until it’s smooth. Then we’ll slowly whisk in the milk until the soup thickens, and that’s it! Easy, right?
Why you’ll love my recipe:
- Takes just 35 minutes to make with basic ingredients.
- Includes tips for the perfect creamy texture.
- Has a balanced flavor that lets the broccoli shine.
- Pairs nicely with crusty bread, biscuits, dinner rolls, or garlic knots.
What You Need
Here are the key ingredients that I use in my broccoli cheese soup (ignore the two garlic powders in the photo above–pretend one is onion powder! 😉):
- Broccoli. I prepare the broccoli much the same way that I do for my broccoli salad. I buy a pound of broccoli and then chop off the stems and cut the florets into small pieces which I’ll then go over briefly with a large knife in a mincing motion. Check out the photo below for an example.
- Onion. A yellow onion is my preference, but a sweet onion (a great choice in many soups, like my French onion soup) or a white onion would work well here, too.
- Carrots. Grate your own or buy pre-shredded “matchstick” carrots from the store.
- Cheddar cheese. Do NOT use pre-shredded cheese as it will not melt properly or smoothly! Instead, grate your own. I recommend buying 16 oz of sharp cheddar and grating half into your soup, and saving the other half for serving!
- Ground mustard. Like in my chicken pot pie, I love using a pinch of ground mustard to add flavor to my soup. This is dry mustard powder as shown above, not prepared mustard in a tube.
- Chicken broth. You can substitute vegetable broth for a vegetarian soup.
- Whole milk and heavy cream. I usually keep both of these ingredients in my fridge so that’s what I use; however, you could substitute both of these ingredients for half and half instead.
SAM’S TIP: Don’t worry if you still have some larger pieces of broccoli remaining; we’re going to be using a blender to puree the soup before it’s finished cooking to give it a smooth and creamy texture. Puree as much or as little as you’d like to suit your own preference!
Remember, this is just an overview of the ingredients I used and why. For the full recipe please scroll down to the bottom of the post!
How to Make Broccoli Cheddar Soup
- Melt the butter over medium heat, then add the onion and cook until it softens.
- Sprinkle the flour over the onion and whisk until smooth, then slowly whisk in the milk.
- Add the broth, cream, veggies, and seasonings and stir to incorporate.
- Increase the heat to medium high and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer.
- Once thickened, blend the soup as much as you like (some people like a chunkier broccoli cheddar soup, some people want it completely smooth; just note that if you puree until completely smooth, your soup may look a bit green!.
- Stir in the cheese until melted and adjust seasonings to taste (you may need another shake of salt or pepper).
SAM’S TIP: When adding your milk to create your roux, add it slowly and gradually. Adding it all at once won’t allow the soup to thicken as nicely as it should.
Frequently Asked Questions
I haven’t personally frozen this soup, but I would be worried about the heavy cream separating out. If you try it, I’d love to know how it goes for you!
This tends to happen when you use a pre-shredded cheese. Pre-shredded cheeses include anti-caking agents that will prevent them from melting properly in your soup. If you shredded your own cheese and it’s still not melting, it may just need more time on the stove.
If the roux is not made slowly and properly (as indicated in the recipe), it can leave you with a watery soup rather than a creamy one. Using a stovetop heat that’s too high can also cause the soup to curdle, especially when you are adding any dairy products. Follow the instructions in the recipe and don’t crank up your heat and you shouldn’t have any problems!
Want the full Panera experience? Serve your soup in my homemade bread bowls!
Let’s bake together! I’ll be walking you through all the steps in my written recipe and video below! If you try this recipe, be sure to tag me on Instagram, and you can also find me on YouTube and Facebook
Broccoli Cheddar Soup
- 5 Tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 medium yellow onion diced (about 1 cup)
- ⅓ cup all-purpose flour (42g)
- 1 ½ cups whole milk (355ml)
- 2 cups low sodium chicken broth (475ml)
- 1 ½ cups heavy cream (355ml)
- 4 cups broccoli florets¹ cut into small pieces (270g)
- ⅓ cup peeled grated carrot (this is usually 1 grated carrot for me, may substitute pre-cut “matchstick” carrots) (35g)
- 1 teaspoon salt plus more to taste, as needed
- ½ teaspoon sugar
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper plus more to taste, as needed
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon ground mustard
- 8 oz sharp cheddar cheese + additional for topping grated off the block (do not use pre-shredded cheese as it is likely it will clump and not melt properly) (226g) + additional for topping
- Place butter in a large soup pot or Dutch oven over medium heat and cook until melted.
- Add diced onion and cook until softened and translucent (about 5 minutes).
- Sprinkle flour over the butter/onion and whisk until smooth and no lumps remain.
- Slowly, while whisking, add milk to the mixture. Whisk until combined and mixture is thickened.
- Add chicken broth, heavy cream, broccoli, carrots, salt, sugar, black pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, and ground mustard. Whisk until combined.
- Bring to a boil over medium/high heat while stirring frequently. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook until thickened.
- Transfer the soup in batches to a blender or (preferred) use an immersion blender to puree. Puree as much of the soup as you would like until desired consistency is reached, I usually use an immersion blender and puree about 75% of the soup, leaving some pieces of broccoli intact.
- Add grated cheese and stir until melted (keep heat on low). Add additional salt and pepper to taste and serve.
¹BroccoliI usually buy 1 lb of fresh broccoli crowns and am left with enough after removing the stalks and cutting the florets.
StoringStore in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4-5 days. I have never frozen this soup and have been hesitant to do so as the cream base can sometimes separate and make for a watery soup when reheated from frozen.
Nutritional information is based on third-party calculations and should be considered an estimate only. Actual nutritional content will vary based upon brands used, measuring methods, cooking method, portion sizes, and more.
This recipe was originally published March of 2020. I updated the photos and text, but the recipe remains the same!