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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 12 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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29 comments on “Broccoli Cheddar Soup”

  1. Made this last night for hubby and me, and we are HUGE fans of Paneras’ soup, so I was totally excited to give it a try! We were AMAZED by the awesome flavor, and for myself, overjoyed by the ease of making it up! Unless I am feeling completely lazy, I will make this, over and over, in place of running up to Panera and waiting in line!! So pleased with it, we ate ALL of it ourselves! Keep this sort of thing coming!!!

    • Hi Victoria! You just TOTALLY made my day!!! I’m psyched that you loved this so much!! Panera Soup is my FAVORITE thing in the world so I am pumped you appreciated it!! Thank you for taking the time to write this and leave a rating! You’re the best!! -Stephanie

      Ps-You should try this one next! thecozycook.com/parmesan-crusted-chicken/

  2. I have news for you. Very few restaurants use the “super high” quality ingredients you refer to. We can’t afford to. It’s great for home cooking, but folks shouldn’t get hung up on that. Good old Kraft, Cracker Barrel or store brand cheeses work very well. And restaurants rarely use fresh “homemade” stock. The stuff in cans or cartons is splendid.
    Also, you are using twice too much flour and you should never cook your roux so long. Makes the soup taste like burned toast.

    • Hey Barbara. I have news for you as well, your delivery is terrible. I never referred to “super” high quality anything. Cabot cheese is one ingredient example I used that you can find in any grocery store at a decent price. I’m not entertaining your additional condescending comments any further. I love talking about food and ingredients but if this is your way of doing so, this isn’t the place for you. Take care.

  3. You know, I have wanted to make soup in bread for a long time, but I was afraid that something would not work out for me … That the bread would slacken or I would eat this soup before I had time to pour it into the bread))) I really liked your recipe, I’ll definitely try to cook it without digressions, and I hope that everything will turn out just as you prepared – delicious and beautiful. Thank you for sharing such creative ideas, I appreciate that, keep it up!

  4. Delicious! The nutmeg really makes this recipe. This will now be my go-to broccoli soup recipe. Thank you!

  5. Freezing cheese based soups is simple: reserve the portion to be frozen omitting the cheese. To reheat, defrost and add the cheese back as a last step.

  6. I used exact ingredients except for chicken stock. I wanted it vegetarian so I simply used water and added some onion power to make up some of the flavor. Let me tell you. It was delicious!! And even my husband the traditional meat mouth said it tasted great and made his food seem crappy after having my soup.lol. so just in case you’re wondering if you can’t skip the chicken stock. You sure can. Besides, I was absolutely shocked by the amot of sodium in these ready made stocks. Anywho , try the recipe, you won’t regret it. Thanks for a great recipe cozy cook!!

    • Hi Kira! I am so happy that you were able to enjoy it with that variation! Awesome!!! You made my day, thank you for taking the time! -Stephanie

  7. I cut this in half for the two of us and it was delicious.
    Easy but so good.
    Thank you for sharing.

  8. Delicious!! Perfect for an ice cold winter day. Hubby and I loved this 😉

    • Hey Betsy! I am SO happy that you loved the soup, I made this post so long ago, I need to revamp it and bring it back to life so more people can enjoy it!!!

  9. This looks ridiculous. In the most delicious way!

  10. I thought it’s a baked potato. yumyum but it’s a soup! Looks sooooooooooooo good!

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