Broccoli Cheese Soup

This broccoli cheese soup recipe is easy to make and loaded with broccoli and cheddar cheese. You can make it as chunky or as smooth as you’d like, and of course add more cheese on top! A wonderful copycat of Panera’s famous soup.

A bowl of broccoli cheese soup with bread on the side.

I’ve talked at length before about my aversion to vegetables growing up, and broccoli seemed to conjure up a special amount of disdain. Finally, my mom found a way to get me to eat it… she smothered my broccoli in melted cheese.

Artificial, processed cheese. I think that it was Cheez Whiz. Maybe Velveeta? I’m leaning towards Cheez Whiz. Turns out, I could stand those little green stalks when they were smothered with bright yellow liquid cheese.

MY OTHER RECIPES

No surprise, then, that eventually, as a certified grownup, became a big fan of the broccoli-cheese soup from Panera. Pieces of broccoli so small that I hardly notice them, in a creamy, cheesy soup? Pass me a bowl and the crusty bread, please.

This copycat recipe is a wonderful soup loaded to the brim with broccoli and cheese in a super creamy broth.

Broccoli florets on a wooden cutting board.

A prep bowl with shredded cheddar cheese.

How To Make Broccoli Cheese Soup

I gave up on the condensed broccoli cheese soup canned version long ago in favor of take-out varieties from Panera, as well as the salad and soup bar at the local grocery chain (which makes really good soup, it turns out). Still, I wanted to have a recipe that I could make at home.

This easy broccoli-cheese soup starts with sautéing chopped onion in butter, stirring in flour for a thickener, and adding the half and half and milk. Next, fresh broccoli florets are added along with salt, pepper and nutmeg, the pot is covered, and left to simmer until the broccoli is nice and tender.

At this point, you can choose how chunky or smooth you’d like your soup – use a potato masher to break up the broccoli, use an immersion blender, or transfer some or all of it to a blender or food processor to puree. Once you have the consistency you’d like, whisk in some vegetable broth, warm it all up, and serve!

Broccoli cheese soup pureed in a blender.

Recipe Tips and Notes

  • I like using mild cheddar cheese so that it doesn’t overpower the rest of the soup, but you can certainly use sharp if you prefer. If you are into Velveeta broccoli cheese soup (old school solidarity!), then you can substitute that for the cheddar cheese.
  • If you cannot find half and half where you live, simply substitute heavy cream and whole milk in equal parts.
  • You can substitute chicken broth or stock for the vegetable broth.
  • Make a crockpot broccoli cheese soup by transferring the milk mixture, broccoli, seasonings, and cheese to the slow cooker after step #1. Cook on low for 4 to 6 hours, then proceed with mashing/pureeing the soup as you’d like and whisk in the vegetable broth as directed.
  • If you like potatoes in your broccoli cheese soup, add some cubed potatoes along with the broccoli in step #2.

A single bowl of broccoli cheese soup with additional broccoli and shredded cheese on top.

I love the subtle blend of seasonings that really lets the flavors of the broccoli and cheese come through in this soup, and I always add a big pile of fresh cracked black pepper to the top of my bowl before serving.

All I need is a big hunk of crusty bread to make this is the best cold-weather lunch, period.

If You Like This Broccoli Cheese Soup, Try These Recipes:

Two bowls of broccoli cheese soup with sliced bread and shredded cheese on the side.

P.S. Writing that first paragraph about Cheez Whiz and Velveeta brought back all sorts of memories of grade school sleepovers. Watching movies like Clue, telling ghost stories, playing telephone, listening to cassette tapes on our Walkmans, and… loading Ritz crackers with sky-high mounds of Easy Cheese. Oh, the 80’s!

Four years ago: Chocolate-Dipped Banana Bread Biscotti
Five years ago: Snickerdoodle Biscotti
Six years ago: The New York Times Chocolate Chip Cookies
Nine years ago: BBQ Chicken Pizza
Ten years ago: Challah Bread

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Broccoli Cheese Soup

This broccoli cheese soup recipe is easy to make and loaded with broccoli and cheddar cheese. A wonderful copycat of Panera’s famous soup.

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup (113 grams) unsalted butter
  • 1 yellow onion, finely chopped
  • ⅓ cup (47 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 4 cups (960 ml) whole milk
  • 2 cups (480ml) half-and-half
  • 4 heads broccoli, stems removed and discarded, and florets cut into bite-size pieces
  • Pinch of nutmeg
  • 12 ounces mild cheddar cheese, shredded
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 cups (480 ml) vegetable broth

Directions:

  1. In a large pot or Dutch oven, melt butter over medium heat. Add the onions and cook for 3 to 4 minutes, until they begin to soften. Sprinkle the flour over the onions and stir to combine, cooking for about 1 minute. Slowly whisk in the milk and half-and-half.
  2. Add the nutmeg, broccoli, a dash of salt, and lots of freshly ground black pepper. Cover and reduce the heat to low. Simmer for 20 to 30 minutes, or until the broccoli is tender. Add the cheese a handful at a time, stirring to melt the cheese after each addition.
  3. At this point I did a quick pass with my immersion blender on low to blend up the broccoli a bit, but still leave a good amount of texture. You could also choose to mash it with a potato masher to break up the broccoli a bit, or transfer to a blender or food processor in two batches and puree completely. Finally, whisk in the vegetable broth, and re-warm over low heat, then serve.

Recipe Notes:

  • I like using mild cheddar cheese so that it doesn’t overpower the rest of the soup, but you can certainly use sharp if you prefer. If you are into Velveeta broccoli cheese soup (old school solidarity!), then you can substitute that for the cheddar cheese.
  • If you cannot find half and half where you live, simply substitute heavy cream and whole milk in equal parts.
  • You can substitute chicken broth or stock for the vegetable broth.
  • Make a crockpot broccoli cheese soup by transferring the milk mixture, broccoli, seasonings, and cheese to the slow cooker after step #1. Cook on low for 4 to 6 hours, then proceed with mashing/pureeing the soup as you’d like and whisk in the vegetable broth as directed.
  • If you like potatoes in your broccoli cheese soup, add some cubed potatoes along with the broccoli in step #2.

Did you make this recipe?

Leave a review below, then snap a picture and tag @thebrowneyedbaker on Instagram so I can see it!

(Recipe adapted from The Pioneer Woman)

All images and text ©Brown Eyed Baker, LLC.

Update Notes: This recipe was originally published in March 2012. Updated in October 2018 with new photos, a video, and extensive recipe tips.