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 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

4.35 from 23 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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Comments

I made this tonight - delicious. The cheese flavor was more subtle than I expected. The garlic was distinct since it's not cooked long before the stock is added. Another flavorful dish that I will make again. This is the fourth or fifth soup recipe I have tried from this site and all have been delicious. I make the split pea and carrot soups regularly. Thanks, Heidi.

brooke

Do you have any recommendations for making a "good -tasting vegetable broth"? I have given up with powdered stocks. I was going to make a huge pot and freeze small portions.

desertdaisy

The soup looks lovely, no doubt, but what I love the most here are your photos of the broccoli and garlic. Beautiful.

Andrea

I don't know about other versions, of this soup, but I'm planning to use these wonderful sounding croutons on some Welsh Rarebit soup (with redskin potatoes, sharp cheddar, and beer). On the side, some arugula salad with a sharp vinaigrette, roasted walnuts and beets. As far as variations for you to try, I like to add potatoes and/or corn to my broccoli cheese soup. Cheddar kale soup might be good with those mustardy croutons as well!

Amy

I soooo agree that broccoli soup has to be eaten right away! It really becomes "stale"!!

Veggie Wedgie

You are truly an artist with your photographs. This looks beautiful and I can't wait to try it. Thanks for posting!

Hallie

I really love your photo of the soup. Great way to sell the recipe. :)

boomette

love broccoli soup - I often make it without any cheese and with a garnishing of smoked salmon cut un in stripes, added right in the bowl. It's also very nice with anchovies and grated pecorino cheese: omit the shallot and onion and go for a couple of garlic cloves instead; proceed as you do, omit the cheese and creme fraiche and stir some anchovies melted in olive oil. Finish off with grated pecorino. One last word: I've never been able to get my broccoli to soften in 4 minutes, it always takes me at least 10 minutes, unless the florets are really tiny.

marcella

Made this for dinner tonight. It was wonderful. I thought the smoked paprika was too strong but otherwise it was perfect.

txjeis fffrey

I've been meaning to make a broccoli cheese soup for a long time now, so when I saw this recipe in my in-box I took it as a sign! I made a few changes and used a spicy brown mustard for the croutons but it was absolutely delicious! I'll have to let you know tomorrow if it smells or not :-D

Maggie

Totally with you on the scent of leftover broccoli — and cauliflower and even certain cabbage — soups being less than appetizing. Sometimes I pre-steam broccoli and add it to each portion individually, avoiding the over-cooked leftover problem. You could also roast the broccoli in tiny florets and get a yummy depth of flavor with some crunch.

Christine

Oh my goodness, yum! This is my favorite soup!

Jenn

DELICIOUS!

Maile (mylee)

You'll get no arguments from me. I often make broccoli soup and it never lasts until the next day. And it's refreshing to find a broccoli soup recipe that is not loaded with processed cheese. I think it defeats the whole purpose of trying to eat healthy. This from someone who'll consume andouille sausage like it's a vegetable.

Marysol

It's like you read my mind Heidi! :)

SweetFoodie

I made this tonight, and it was fantastic! 2 changes: I used cauliflower instead of broccoli; and topped it with your potato croutons (added mustard instead of garlic at the end). I had a loaf of olive-rosemary bread baking when I came across this recipe-- how perfect! It was a completely delicious dinner. Thanks!

Lindsey

I've been looking for a go-to broccoli cheddar soup recipe for a while now and this looks perfect!

Laura

Agreed about day-old broccoli soup. Loses its vibrant color as well. Feel the same way about day-old green bean or aspargus soup. Thx for this recipe - was desperate for a dinner idea tonight and you saved me from take-out.

gastroanthropologist

I love cream of broccoli soup so this sounds heavenly. What a great idea on the croutons too.

nithya at hungrydesi

i love broccoli soup and i sort of agree that it's usually not so good as a leftover but i tend to have leftovers nonetheless since i cook usually just for me. i've tried the moosewood cookbook's broccoli and cheese soup and it was aweful so i'm looking forward to trying this one.

Benjamin

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