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Broccoli Cheese Soup

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This Panera Broccoli Cheese Soup recipe is comfort food at its finest and full of cheesy flavor. Made with real cheddar cheese and loaded with broccoli, you will find yourself craving this all year long.

This soup is one of our favorite easy dinner ideas that is belly filling and easy enough for a weeknight.

close up of cheese broccoli soup in a white bowl on a wooden table

Recipe Features

  • 30-Minute Recipe: Thanks to some handy tricks, this recipe comes together in just 30 minutes. That makes it ideal for busy weeknights.
  • Freezer Friendly: As a family of 3, we find that this is a bit too much for us to finish in one night. Luckily this recipe freezes extremely well which means we have leftovers on hand for months.
  • No Processed Cheese- Don’t get me wrong, I’m not one to shy away from Velveeta. In fact, I have a Velveeta Cheesy Broccoli Soup right here on the site. This recipe just hits different. It’s got all of the boldness but with that fresh taste.

Have you ever been to Panera? Their menu is loaded with delicious soups, salads, and sandwiches. One of the most-loved has to be their broccoli cheddar soup. It has the most insane online fan club and for good reason. Shredded carrots, cheddar cheese, and broccoli in every single bite. You just cannot go wrong with this belly warming recipe.

It is also incredibly simple to make. We had it whipped up and ready in just under 30 minutes- thanks to a few kitchen tips I’ll share later in the post.

soup ingredients laid out on a wooden table

Panera Broccoli Cheese Soup Ingredients

This is arguably the best broccoli cheese soup recipe. Rich and creamy, full of flavor, and loaded with veggies. It is made for serving with bread. A side of garlic bread would be absolutely divine or serving the soup in a bread bowl.

Here’s a breakdown of what you will need with a few helpful tips to make prep a breeze:

  • Oil and Butter: These two fats work together to give you those tender and soft veggies along with a roux to help thicken the broth.
  • Vegetables: Onions, garlic, carrots and broccoli. Here’s where one of my biggest secret comes in to help cut back on prep. Did you know you can buy frozen chopped onion? It’s under a dollar in most grocery stores and found in the freezer section. I also opted to use frozen broccoli florets, which are prechopped, and shredded carrots. These three ingredients mean less time on the cutting board.
  • Flour: This is going to combine with the melted butter to give you a beautiful broth thickener.
  • Chicken Broth: I use Better Than Bullion. It is lower sodium but bold in flavor. It lets me keep more control over the seasoning of the finished soup.
  • Cream : Not too much, but just enough to give you a little richness.
  • Seasonings: You have your basics, like salt and pepper, but also a dash of garlic powder and nutmeg .
  • Cheese: Here’s what you need to look for: Sharp cheddar. It gives you that ultimate boldness that is needed to stand out to the broccoli.

You can also add a handful of crumbled bacon and shredded cheese to the top if you are wanting something that is a little bit extra.

close up photo of a pot of soup sitting on a wooden table top

How to make the BEST Broccoli Cheese Soup

  1. Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat.
  2. Add the onion and carrot to the pot and saute for 2 to 3 minutes, or until just softened.
  3. Stir in the garlic and allow to cook for 1 minute.
  4. Move the vegetables to the side of the pot.
  5. Place the butter into the cleared space and allow to melt.
  6. Whisk the flour in with the melted butter. It’s ok if the vegetables get mixed in a little.
  7. Let this mixture cook for 30 seconds, or until you start to see bubbles forming.
  8. Whisk in the chicken broth, broccoli, and garlic powder.
  9. Bring to a simmer and allow to cook for 20 minutes or until the broccoli has softened.
  10. Stir in the heavy cream and cheese. Heat until the cheese has melted and the cream has warmed.
  11. Serve topped with additional cheese if desired.
spoon holding soup above a bowl

Recipe Tips

While this Panera Broccoli Cheddar Soup recipe is fairly easy, I wanted to include some extra tips to help give you even more ideas on how to customize this soup.

  • I opt to use frozen broccoli florets in this recipe as a time saver. I do let them slightly thaw and chop them into smaller pieces so we can get small broccoli bits in every bite.
  • You can definitely use fresh broccoli in place of the frozen.
  • No cream? No problem. Half and half will work in its place. Just substitute equal amounts.
  • Try a blend of different cheeses. Pick up your favorite variety and substitute half of the cheddar. Using half sharp cheddar and half pepper jack is game changing.
  • Need more protein for a heartier dish? Add cooked and crumbled bacon, diced ham, or shredded chicken.

FAQs

Is this Panera’s Broccoli Cheddar Soup gluten-free?

Flour is used to thicken this soup, which makes it NOT gluten free. You can substitute cornstarch, as most of these are naturally gluten free. Just be sure to double check the label.

What cheese can I use in this soup recipe?

This recipe calls for sharp cheddar, but you can get pretty creative with the types of cheeses used. A mild cheddar will produce a less robust flavor while a pepper jack or colby will give you more creamy and a slight spice. We like to mix half sharp cheddar with half pepper jack.

How do you freeze broccoli cheese soup?

Leftovers of this soup will keep for up to 4 days if stored properly. Keep it stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container. Heat in the microwave or stovetop when ready to enjoy.
To freeze, simply allow the soup to cool completely. Transfer to freezer safe containers or zip top bags and place in the freezer. Frozen broccoli cheese soup will last up to 2 months.
When ready to eat, allow the soup to thaw in the refrigerator overnight. Heat in the microwave for 1 to 2 minutes, or in a saucepan over medium heat until heated through.

Is this vegetarian?

If you would like to make this a vegetarian soup you just need to make one swap. Instead of using chicken broth use vegetable broth for the soup base. This will give you a delicious vegetarian dinner option.

Can you double this recipe?

Feeding a crowd? No problem! This recipe easily doubles giving you 8 to 10 servings of soup.

Bowl of soup topped with shredded cheddar cheese on a wood table top with a teal napkin

More Soup Recipes to Try

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Real Broccoli Cheese Soup

Real Broccoli Cheese Soup

Yield: 4 servings
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes

This Panera Broccoli Cheese Soup recipe is comfort food at its finest and full of cheesy flavor. Made with real cheddar cheese and loaded with broccoli, you will find yourself craving this all year long.

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 1/2 cup onion, chopped (about 1/4 of an onion)
  • 1/2 cup shredded carrots
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 10 oz frozen broccoli florets, slightly thawed and chopped
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup sharp cheddar, shredded
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat.
  2. Add the onion and carrot to the pot and saute for 2 to 3 minutes, or until just softened.
  3. Stir in the garlic and allow to cook for 1 minute.
  4. Move the vegetables to the side of the pot.
  5. Place the butter into the cleared space and allow to melt.
  6. Whisk the flour in with the melted butter. It’s ok if the vegetables get mixed in a little.
  7. Let this mixture cook for 30 seconds, or until you start to see bubbles forming.
  8. Whisk in the chicken broth, broccoli, and garlic powder.
  9. Bring to a simmer and allow to cook for 20 minutes or until the broccoli has softened.
  10. Stir in the heavy cream and cheese. Heat until the cheese has melted and the cream has warmed.
  11. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  12. Serve topped with additional cheese if desired.

Notes

  • I opt to use frozen broccoli florets in this recipe as a time saver. I do let them slightly thaw and chop them into smaller pieces so we can get small broccoli bits in every bite.
  • You can definitely use fresh broccoli in place of the frozen.
  • No cream? No problem. Half and half will work in its place. Just substitute equal amounts.
  • Try a blend of different cheeses. Pick up your favorite variety and substitute half of the cheddar. Using half sharp cheddar and half pepper jack is game changing.
  • Need more protein for a heartier dish? Add cooked and crumbled bacon, diced ham, or shredded chicken.

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