The Cozy Cook

Broccoli Cheddar Soup

This creamy Broccoli Cheddar Soup recipe is easy to make at home with simple ingredients and the best flavor! There are 3 different ways to thicken it and lots of PRO tips to make sure it is truly restaurant quality! (PLUS: Stove Top, Crock Pot, and Instant Pot friendly!)

A white bowl with a spoon scooping up Panera Broccoli Cheddar Soup.

Broccoli Cheddar Soup

Nothing beats the classic comfort food that we all know as Broccoli Cheddar Soup. And in case you’ve ever struggled with getting your soup nice and thick, or having it turn out just as creamy as at a restaurant, I’ve got you covered- I know the tricks. 😉

I’ve been making this soup for years and have made some slight tweaks along the way that make all the difference. One of those was to finally give in and remove the nutmeg. Instead, I replaced it with mustard powder. I’m telling you, that small change makes such a difference.

I’ve also got the perfect quantity of cheese, the right amount of broccoli, and the most flavorful broth. Be sure to read through my PRO tips before you start and you’ll be set to go!

Ingredients

See bottom of post for the recipe card with ingredient quantities and full instructions.

  • Olive Oil
  • Onions
  • Salted Butter
  • Flour
  • Chicken Broth homemade is best!
  • Half and Half
  • Paprika
  • Mustard Powder
  • Garlic Powder
  • Pepper
  • Corn Starch optional
  • Broccoli
  • Carrots
  • Cheddar Cheese Heluva Good! Sharp Orange Cheddar tastes good and melts well.
  • Velveeta Cheese optional
  • Salt optional

How to Make It

Add olive oil to a large soup pot over medium heat. Add the diced onions and sauté for 5 minutes. Remove the onions and set aside.

Melt the butter in the same pot over medium heat. Whisk in the flour and cook for 1 minute, until you can no longer smell flour. Use a silicone spatula to stir as it cooks.

Cooking onions and making a roux to make Panera's Broccoli Cheddar Soup

Slowly stir in the chicken broth, allowing it to absorb the roux and remain thick. Whisk to combine until no lumps remain. Add the onions back to the pot.

Add the half and half, paprika, mustard powder, garlic powder, and pepper.

Adding chicken broth and half and half to make Panera Broccoli Cheddar Soup

Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer. Optional: Combine 3 TBS corn starch + 3 TBS cold water and whisk it in when the boil is reached. This will thicken it further.

Add the broccoli and carrots. Simmer for 10-15 minutes, until the broccoli is tender.

Optional: Remove 1-2 cups of broccoli/carrots and use an immersion blender to blend the soup for a smoother and creamier consistency. Add the remaining broccoli and carrots back.

A Dutch oven with broth next to a dutch oven with broccoli and carrots in the broth.

Remove from heat and let the base cool down for 1-2 minutes. Gradually add the shredded cheese and Velveeta cheese, stirring as you do so.

Taste, and season with additional salt if desired. Serve!

Melting cheese into soup to make Panera's broccoli cheddar soup recipe.

Crock Pot and Instant Pot Method

  • See notes section in recipe card for instructions on cooking this in the Crock Pot or Instant Pot.

How to Thicken Broccoli Cheddar Soup

  • A Roux: This soup is thickened by combining melted butter and flour, which helps thicken the broth.
  • A Slurry: For even thicker soup, combine 3 TBS cornstarch + 3 TBS cold water and add it to the broth when it’s brought to a boil. (Before the cheese is added.)
  • Cheese: This recipe has plenty of cheese (including 3 oz. of Velveeta), which also makes it thicker.

Pro Tips

  • An equal amount of yellow or Dijon mustard may be added if you don’t have mustard powder.
  • The Velveeta cheese is optional, but it adds a nice finish.
  • The larger you cut the broccoli, the longer it will take it to cook. I recommend small bites.
  • Adding the chicken broth to the roux slowly ensures that the thickness from the roux is maintained.
  • If the soup is too hot when the cheese is added, you’ll end up with a grainy or clumpy consistency.
  • Avoid using bagged cheese as it contains cellulose which prevents it from melting well
  • I like to shred a block of Heluva Good! Orange Sharp Cheddar as it has a great taste and melts well. If  you have a Whole Foods near you, Whole Foods 365 Sharp Cheddar Cheese is said to be the best.
  • Avoid Extra Sharp Cheddar as it won’t melt as well.

Storing Leftovers

  • -Leftover soup should be refrigerated in an airtight container and is best if eaten within three days. 
  • If you prefer to freeze this soup, it’s best to freeze the broth without the cheese, then add shredded cheese to it upon reheating on the stove top. This helps prevent the dairy in the cheese from separating when reheated, which can result in a grainy consistency.

What to Serve This With

Tools For This Recipe

(Amazon affiliate links)- Check out all of my kitchen essentials here.

  • A 3.5 quart dutch oven is perfect for making this soup.
  • Silicone Spatulas: Makes it easier to stir food without scratching the bottom of your pot.
  • This is the immersion blender I use for SO many soups and sauces, it makes it really easy to blend right in the pot without having to transfer a hot liquid to a blender.
  • Box Grater– Makes it so easy to shred cheese without making a mess.

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A spoon in a white bowl of Panera Broccoli Cheddar Soup with oyster crackers on top.

A spoon full of creamy Broccoli Cheddar Soup with oyster crackers, broccoli, and julienned carrots.

Broccoli Cheddar Soup

5 from 10 ratings
This creamy Broccoli Cheddar Soup recipe is easy to make at home with simple ingredients. There are 3 different ways to thicken it and lots of PRO tips to make sure it is truly restaurant quality!

Ingredients

  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 small yellow onion, diced
  • 5 Tablespoons salted butter
  • 5 Tablespoons flour
  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • 3 cups half and half
  • ½ teaspoon paprika
  • ½ teaspoon mustard powder
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
  • 3 Tablespoons corn starch + 3 Tablespoons water, optional
  • 4 cups broccoli florets
  • ½ cup carrots, julienned
  • 3 cups cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 3 oz. Velveeta cheese, optional
  • Salt, to taste

Instructions

  • Shred the cheese and set it aside along with the Velveeta to allow it to come closer to room temperature. It will melt creamier this way.
  • Add olive oil to a large soup pot over medium heat. Add the diced onions and saute for 5 minutes. Remove the onions and set aside.
  • Melt the butter in the same pot over medium heat. Whisk in the flour and cook for 1 minute, until you can no longer smell flour. Use a silicone spatula to stir as it cooks.
  • Slowly stir in the chicken broth and whisk to combine until no lumps remain.
  • Add the onions back to the pot.
  • Add the half and half, paprika, mustard powder, garlic powder, and pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer. Optional: Combine 3 TBS corn starch + 3 TBS cold water and whisk it in when the boil is reached. This will thicken it further.
  • Add the broccoli and carrots. Simmer for 10-15 minutes, until the broccoli is tender.
  • Optional: Remove 1-2 cups of broccoli/carrots and use an immersion blender to blend the soup for a smoother and creamier consistency. Add the remaining broccoli and carrots back.
  • Remove from heat and let the base cool down for 1-2 minutes. Gradually add the shredded cheese and Velveeta cheese, stirring as you do so.
  • Taste, and season with additional salt if desired. Serve!

Notes

Pro Tips:

  • An equal amount of yellow or Dijon mustard may be added if you don’t have mustard powder.
  • The Velveeta cheese is optional, but it adds a nice finish.
  • If the soup is too hot when the cheese is added, you’ll end up with a grainy or clumpy consistency.
  • Avoid using bagged cheese as it contains cellulose which prevents it from melting well
  • I like to shred a block of Heluva Good! Orange Sharp Cheddar as it has a great taste and melts well.

Storing Leftovers

  • -Leftover soup should be refrigerated in an airtight container and is best if eaten within three days. 
  • -If you prefer to freeze this soup, it's best to freeze the broth without the cheese, then add shredded cheese to it upon reheating on the stove top. This helps prevent the dairy in the cheese from separating when reheated, which can result in a grainy consistency.

Crock Pot Method:

  • Omit the olive oil and butter.
  • Add the onions, broccoli, and carrots to the crock pot.
  • Whisk the flour and chicken broth together until well-combined and add it to the Crock Pot.
  • Add the paprika, mustard powder, garlic powder, and pepper.
  • Cook on high for 3-4 hours or on low for 6-8.
  • Add the half and half 30 minutes prior to serving.
  • Turn off the heat and let the base cool for 1-2 minutes. Sprinkle in the cheeses and stir to combine. Season with any additional salt if desired and serve!

Instant Pot Method:

  • Soften the onions in the olive oil on sauté mode for 5 minutes. Remove the onions and set aside.
  • Melt the butter on sauté mode. Add the flour and whisk to combine. Cook for 1 minute, stirring as it cooks.
  • Add the chicken broth and whisk to combine into the roux, ensuring that there are no lumps.
  • Add the onions back along with the broccoli and carrots.
  • Secure the lid and seal the valve. Set it to cook on high (or press the ‘pressure cook’ button) for 8 minutes.
  • Release the valve, let the pressure release, and remove the lid.
  • Add the half and half, paprika, mustard powder, garlic powder, and pepper. Stir to combine and heat through.
  • Gradually sprinkle in the cheese and stir to combine. Season with additional salt if desired and serve.

Nutrition

Calories: 438kcal, Carbohydrates: 15g, Protein: 18g, Fat: 35g, Saturated Fat: 21g, Cholesterol: 101mg, Sodium: 875mg, Potassium: 461mg, Fiber: 2g, Sugar: 3g, Vitamin A: 2750IU, Vitamin C: 49mg, Calcium: 496mg, Iron: 1mg

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26 comments on “Broccoli Cheddar Soup”

  1. I was really impressed with how this came out. I used the stove top method, didn’t have the recommended cheese so just used craft cheddar but it still came out great. I also used the slurry method and described to thicken the soup up. Definitely a great recipe!

    • I’m so glad you liked the Broccoli Cheddar Soup Duncan!😀 My husband likes it a little thicker as well so I use the slurry technique as well! Thanks so much for the review!

  2. I’ve never had this soup at Panera so can’t compare but I love broccoli cheddar soup and this looked delicious. And it was! As a huge bonus, my two year olds both loved it and ate half of my bowl!! We have been struggling with veggies a bit lately so this was awesome! we will be making it regularly now, thanks!!!

    • Hey Sarah! That is SO fantastic to hear, you made my day! I’m struggling with getting my toddler to eat veggies right now too, but she loves this soup as well! WIN! 🙂 So happy you’ll be making it again and thank you so much for taking the time to let me know how it came out, you’re the best! Take care! -Stephanie

  3. I have made this soup several times now and it is always delicious. I’m by no means a great cook but since my elderly mother has moved in with me I’ve learned a lot. This is definitely a go to recipe and we both love it.

    • Hey Tom!! I can’t thank you enough for sharing that kind review!! It makes me so happy that you’re getting more comfortable and learning lots in the kitchen- it gets to be more and more fun as you keep doing it! So happy. Thank you so much for taking the time!! -Stephanie

  4. Does this soup freeze well?

    • Unfortunately, soups with dairy don’t reheat well after being frozen, especially when cheese is involved.

      You certainly can freeze this soup, and I have before, but note that the consistency won’t be the same when reheated.

  5. Made it tonight and it was soo good. At the end I added a little cornstarch because the kids like their broccoli soup very thick, but other than that I followed the recipe completely. Everyone loved it. And my daughter (who loves Panera’s version which is why I looked for this recipe) said it tasted just like Panera’s and loved it. Thank you!

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