Broccoli Cheddar Soup

A simple, everyday broccoli soup made special with crusty, mustardy croutons and cheddar. Perfect for those days when you need some extra nutritional punch.

Broccoli Cheddar Soup

I'm going to argue that broccoli cheddar soup is best made to order. While many soups and stews get more complex and enticing after a day or so in the refrigerator, I don't find that to be true when it comes to soup of the broccoli variety. Am I alone here? The good news is this version couldn't be simpler. It’s quick to make and perfect for those times when you need something with a serious nutritional punch. The soup gets a bit of an unexpected twist by topping it with golden, crunchy, mustardy croutons. Which you can skip, but I wouldn't.
A Favorite Broccoli Cheddar Soup

The Recipe: A Better Version of Broccoli Cheddar Soup

One of the things you notice when you look at a lot of the broccoli cheddar soup recipes out there is the stunning amount of dairy in them. There is often so much milk, heavy cream and grated cheese that the soup is nearly white in color. I totally get it, if you’re trying to make a version styled after Panera’s Broccoli Cheddar Soup (and it seems like a lot of people are), you’ll likely go that route. The Panera Copycat Broccoli Cheddar Soup recipes tend to have a ratio of more cream/milk than broth and multiple cups of grated cheese. I’m going to argue you don’t need all that. You can make a creamy, wonderful broccoli cheese soup with a fraction of the dairy, a good blender, and a couple techniques to keep things creamy, bright, and smooth.

Key Ingredients for Good Broccoli Cheddar Soup

  • Broccoli: Look for deeply green, tight heads of broccoli. Avoid any heads that have yellowing florets, discoloration or seem dried out.
  • Vegetable Broth: Use a good-tasting vegetable broth you would drink on its own. I like to make my own broth and freeze it, or make a quick broth from vegetable bouillon cubes or my homemade bouillon powder. Another delicious option would be to use a quick miso broth. You have some options here!
  • Cheese: I call for freshly grated aged cheddar here. Something sharp with a lot of flavor. You can also use a gruyere if you wanted to switch things up a bit.
  • Mustard: The mustard is my secret weapon ingredient in this soup. It pairs perfectly with the broccoli and cheddar and pulls everything together. If you don’t have a whole grain mustard on hand, a Dijon-style mustard is 100% fine to swap.

Broccoli Cheddar Soup Recipe

Troubleshooting: How Do You Keep Broccoli a Vibrant Green?

Broccoli (and your broccoli soup) can turn a sad, dull, unappetizing green color when over cooked. For this soup you’ll cook it until bright and tender. Keep an eye on things is my advice on this front.

Troubleshooting: Why is My Broccoli Cheddar Soup So Grainy?

One of the most common problems cooks run into when they make broccoli cheddar soup is a gritty or grainy texture. Your soup may become grainy if the cheese or dairy curdles. With a recipe like the one that follow you shouldn’t have trouble because the cheese is added as a finishing component, off heat. But to avoid “breaking” the dairy while reheating (or with other dairy-rich soups), take it low and slow. Heating the pot over medium-low and avoiding a boil.
Broccoli Cheddar Soup Recipe

Broccoli Cheddar Soup: Topping Ideas

Aside from the croutons, this soup likes crusty, toasted walnut bread, or olive bread. It likes a good sheep feta in place of cheddar if that's what you happen to have on hand, or a kiss of harissa whisked into a bit of olive oil. I know people like to pair broccoli with blue cheese. Personally, I find that to be over-powering, but if you really love blue cheese, it might be another direction to explore. A finishing drizzle of chile oil or a citrus olive oil is always welcome. If you have any other ideas, let me hear them - I make this soup often enough that I need fresh angles to work!

What to serve with Broccoli Cheddar Soup

I don’t think you need much more than big shards of the mustard croutons included in the recipe, no bread bowl needed. Lol. That said,  but you can certainly take other approaches or layer up! A poached egg would be a way to make a meal of things. Or a simple quesadilla, grilled cheese or egg salad sandwich on the side. Or, something like this TLT. 

More Broccoli Recipes & Ideas

Poke around the archives for more broccoli recipes and inspiration. There are a lot of great recipes from past years worth revisiting. I love a broccoli-centric version of this vegetable stir-fry, this double broccoli quinoa, this orzo super salad, and this is another broccoli soup with coconut milk is another favorite.
Broccoli Cheddar Soup Recipe

More Broccoli Recipes

More Creamy Soups

There are also a bunch of simple, creamy, blended soups in the archives! Or browse all the soups.

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Broccoli Cheddar Soup

4.43 from 26 votes

If you like a slightly creamier soup, stir in a generous dollop of creme fraiche or sour cream after pureeing. You can easily make this soup vegan by using olive oil and omitting the cheese/creme fraiche, and you can make it gluten-free by doing something in place of the croutons. The broth you choose impacts the saltiness of the soup, some are quite salty and others not so much. You'll want to carefully salt to taste at the end to bring all the flavor together.

Ingredients
croutons
  • 5-6 ounce chunk of artisan whole wheat bread, torn into little pieces (less than 1-inch), roughly 3 cups total
  • 1/4 cup melted butter or olive oil (I like 1/2 and 1/2)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons whole grain mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
soup:
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter or olive oil
  • 1 shallot, chopped
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 large potato, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch cubes (1 1/2 cups)
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 3 1/2 cups light, good-tasting vegetable broth
  • 1 large head of broccoli (12 ounces or 3/4 lb.), cut into small florets
  • 2/3 cup freshly grated aged Cheddar, plus more for topping
  • 1 - 3 teaspoons whole grain mustard, to taste
  • smoked paprika, more olive oil, creme fraiche (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
Instructions
  1. Preheat your oven to 350F degrees and place the torn bread in a large bowl. In a small saucepan heat the butter until it has melted. Whisk the mustard and salt into the butter and pour the mixture over the bread. Toss well, then turn the bread onto a baking sheet and bake for 10 - 15 minutes, or until the croutons are golden and crunchy. Toss them once or twice with a metal spatula along the way.
  2. While the croutons are toasting, melt the butter (or olive oil) in a large pot over medium-high heat. Stir in the shallots, onion, and a big pinch of salt. Saute for a couple minutes. Stir in the potatoes, cover, and cook for about four minutes, long enough for them to soften up. Uncover, stir in the garlic, then the broth. Bring to a boil, taste to make sure the potatoes are tender, and if they are stir in the broccoli. Simmer just long enough for the broccoli to get tender throughout, 2 - 4 minutes.

  3. Immediately remove the soup from heat and puree with an immersion blender. Add half the cheddar cheese and the mustard (a little bit a a time) and salt. If you are going to add any creme fraiche, this would be the time to do it. Now add more water or broth if you feel the need to thin out the soup at all. Taste and add more salt if needed.

  4. Serve sprinkled with croutons, the remaining cheese, a drizzle of olive oil, and a tiny pinch of smoked paprika.
Notes

Serves 4 - 6.

Serves
6
Prep Time
5 mins
Cook Time
10 mins
Total Time
15 mins
 
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Recipe Rating




Comments

I just made this soup tonight and it is wonderful! I think the addition of the wholegrain mustard for both the croutons and the soup itself is what really makes it special. One of the things I love about your recipes is the addition of ingredients I wouldn't have thought to combine. Cheers Heidi!

Jacqueline Power

    Thanks Jacqueline - so happy you enjoyed it!

    Heidi Swanson

I made this soup last week and it was delicious. I also prefer to taste the broccoli while enjoying a creamy texture, and this soup hits the spot. It’s hearty without the overwhelming addition of dairy! The only variation I made was substituting the croutons with toasted bread with a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese (at the request of my partner who likes to toast good bread with soup). Next time I may also add a little harissa to add some extra spice, but the flavor as written in the general recipe is already great as-is, so no need to feel the need to add more. Thanks for another great recipe. This will be going into my regular soup rotation with the curried tomato tortellini soup!

JillFalman

    Thanks Jill! I completely love the harissa idea.

    Heidi Swanson

This is a great base on which to build upon. I added in some zucchini and spinach to amp up the ‘green nutritional value’. and topped with a swirl of Greek olive oil and a sprinkle of sweet paprika. Instead of croutons, we had open faced grilled tartines with olive paste and havarti cheese. Delicious!

Ss

This is my go to broccoli soup recipe! During the winter, I make it at least a couple time a month. Thanks for the best recipe!

Kristine

I agree with you that some veggies, like broccoli, just get too strong after cooking. I had a similar experience with a wonderful cabbage soup I made. The next day it was so strong tasting - almost like sauerkraut. On the 3rd day I threw it all away.

Vickie

Delicious! I made this for dinner last night--leftovers were not a problem as my husband and I devoured the entire pot! I loved how creamy the soup was, without being too heavy. I also love any excuse to use my immersion blender :)

Beth

Sitting here shivering & wondering what to make for dinner on this grey, drizzly day and decided to poke around on 101cookbooks for ideas. I'm so glad I did! :) I think I chanced upon this recipe before but lacked the necessary ingredients and the motivation to go and get them--but today this hits a perfect storm of leftover Christmas food (broccoli, bread, Cheddar AND creme fraiche) and it will be perfect! Love this site Heidi, and all your recipes--I haven't ever been disappointed.

Lynne

Made this last night. Wow! So rich! I also made it with a Vidalia mustard instead of a seaded mustard and I used a pumpernickle bagguette. The best croutons I have ever tasted. Wow what a soup! Thanks Heidi, I may try and make it a bit thinner next time as it was so rich!

Ian

I've made this soup twice now, except I don't do the croutons. It's a really great cream-less "cream" soup. You can also make it in half an hour, which is also a plus! I also added roasted garlic to my soup since I always have some laying around.

Susan Gumlock

Thanks for great directions. I totally agree that day old broccoli soup just tastes off. I'm sure some gruyere would also compliment this as a subsitute if needed.

Hollywood Private Investigations

OH YEAH!! I've made this soup several times since it was posted last month and it is always delicious! Each time I make it I end up making more and more, saving leftovers for lunch the next day. I haven't noticed a terrible smell and I thought it may be pungent after the third day of camping out in my fridge, but it held up really well. Oh and those croutons are a must have. The little mustard seeds add a fun popping texture that can't be missed. Thanks Heidi for adding yet another of your recipes to my regular repertoire.

Lindsey

MADE IT. LOVE IT!!

susan owen

Lovely! Made this tonight. Added some plain yogurt in place of the creme fraiche and a good squeeze of lemon as well. Like things tangy around here. :) Great recipe, Heidi!

Jackie

This is perfect! I was just looking for something to make with the head of broccoli on my counter. This soup is just the ticket!

Jessica @ Demeter Made

Well this is insanely good. I went with a sprinkle of smoked paprika and wow. Easy, fast, so perfect for wintertime.

maire

How is this vegan? HS: Hi cb, if I mention in the head notes how to make the recipe vegan, I'll sometime tag it that way. Sorry for the confusion.

cb

This is a wonderful soup! Such a hearty and lovely lunch. I'm topping it with a bit truffle oil, just for the extra fancy feeling :)

Jessie

This soup is incredible! Make it immediately and enjoy!!!

Stephanie

Heidi - this soup looks fabulous and I was so excited to make it for my family on this snowy, cold evening. I decided to add a bit more broth since I had some in my fridge. Unfortunately, I had stored the extra broth in the same exact kind of container in which I had stored some egg whites. Suffice it to say we're scrambling for a different dinner now. My version of the soup - which turned out to be broccoli cheddar egg drop soup - looked completely vomitous! I hope to try it again soon...thanks for sharing your wonderful recipes!

Jennifer Federocko

I really enjoy a broccoli and blue cheese soup, but this looks good too. I find that autumn gives me cravings for soup-making. I have been making celery and blue cheese soup recently, and a simple and coconutty Asian-style soup.

Sarah (Fruits, Roots and Shoots)

This soup was delicious! Thanks so much for posting it!

swally

I recently got word of your blog through a friend and love, love, love it! Um, it is maybe a bit late for this comment, but I have made the mac and cashew cheese twice, and it's kind of addictive. It totally satisfies my craving for mac and cheese, but I also like the flavor of the cheese in it's own right (as opposed to it being a substitute). The second time I modified it by using xanathan gum in place of agar agar, and found that the cashew cheese kept it's texture nicely (it refused to melt after day 1 the first time around--not sure why, maybe the amount was off--but this works fine when the goal is for it to stay melted).

Caroline

Thank for the great recipe! I love your blog.

Jake

LOVE this soup. It's practically impossible to find an easy version of this soup that doesn't involve something horrific like velveeta! I will make this many, many more times!

jessica

very tasty...

Māra

Another hit, Heidi - you are now 3 for 3 (Carrot Soup, Tessajara Salad & this)!!! Thank you so much for these recipes - I've been trying to 'eat healthier', so you're an absolute godsend. Thanks for helping me understand that veggies don't have to be icky or boring! :)

Chelsea

This soup was delicious - loved it! The croutons make it so much better too. At leftovers for 2 days as well... yum. Thanks!

Nicole H

I made this last night with some friends and it was a big hit! It's a miracle combo--seems rich and cheesy yet it's not too heavy. I used a bit of greek yogurt in place of the creme fraiche and it worked well. And yes, the mustard croutons are truly a stroke of genius!

Ashley

Any opinions about replacing the broccoli with fresh string beans. Broccoli is just not one of my foods. The soup seems delicious and from the comments I basically get the picture that it definitely is.

sim

we loved this soup and these croutons are totally addictive!

Anonymous

I just made this for dinner. Fantastic. It's absolutely going into my repertoire - I love how you managed to create a creamy, wonderful, comforting soup without the cream. Thank you!

snarkycat

We made this delicious soup - sans potato - as part of my father's 81st birthday meal: wonderful, wonderful, wonderful!

Rachel

Thank you for all the recipes you post! This soup was such a big hit in our home, it is on our "regular recipes" menu now. It is surprisingly easy to make given the luxurious result. What a wonderful source this site is for the home cook... Thank You!

Valerie Consiglio-Nickerson

I made this soup last night. Substituted Leeks for shallots and used habanero jack cheese instead of cheddar...and then added some feta top. i ate this with a side of mushroom/walnut pate on baguette. It was the perfect cold evening dinner. mmmmm. thanks Heidi.

Elizabeth Howe

I made this soup last night. Substituted Leeks for shallots and used habanero jack cheese instead of cheddar...and then added some feta top. i ate this with a side of mushroom/walnut pate on baguette. It was the perfect cold evening dinner. mmmmm. thanks Heidi.

Elizabeth Howe

I've cut back significantly on starches, so I used cauliflower in place of the potato. I also added in a pinch or two of cayenne pepper along with the paprika. Meant to add some homegrown carrots but then forgot... still, delicious! Oooh. Love the cauliflower idea.

Cydney

I made this soup for dinner one night last week and ended up devouring the leftovers for the next two days at lunch. The mustard croutons are clutch. Amazing.

E

I just made this tonight...didn't have regular potatoes so I used a sweet potato and it seemed like it gave it a nice sweetness. Yum!

Julie

I tried this a little different way, as I happened to be in a pinch to make dinner. Carmelized shallots in butter, a broccoli crown, cut up the florets and the stem too, added it to the mix, then poured in the chicken stock (that is what I had) and then cooked for about 10 minutes. Also added some alphabet soup-sized, tiny little pieces of pasta for my starch. Then, topped with shredded carrot, minced fresh garlic and store bought croutons. Since I don't have a blender, this was left chunky, which is fine, and I really preferred this without any fresh cheeses, just because that comes in my diet from elsewhere. This took about 15 minutes to make. I also tried this soup with gorgonzola flavored crackers from Trader Joe's which was great too!

Clara

very very delicious at my place it took 4 days to find brocilli its rarely avaiable send some spinach soups

zarin

Heidi, I just bought your cookbook and I'm in love! (even though I'm from the South and was raised on food that would probably make you cringe). I have since moved to Nor-Cal and am loving the lighter cuisine! Your recipes sound so delicious and I can't wait to get started cooking!

TinaFromTexas

Given the weather here I also started to do soup! we do not have cheddar but I bet that with some parmesan or even typical italian cheese your soup wouldbe wondefull...to try

lauresophie

I love all the recipes you post.This soup will add to new menu,, thanks

ELDHO.T.

I make Broccoli soup from scratch at least twice a month - the mustard is an intriguing suggestion. And I've never made my own croutons - tonight's the night.

Mollyz

Oh wow. My youngest loves broccoli, and my oldest loves cheese - hoping maybe I can get my oldest to actually eat a green veggie this way? Seriously, this looks and sounds delicious. Can't wait to try it out.

Emily

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