This Broccoli Cheddar Soup is hearty and comforting, and comes together in no time.
Fresh vegetables are simmered in a thick and rich creamy cheesy soup base to create a wholesome and easy mealtime option.
💕🍲Here’s why you’ll love this recipe 🍲💕
- If you’re a fan of Panera’s Broccoli Cheddar soup you’re going to love this recipe.
- It uses simple pantry-staple ingredients.
- It is packed full of wholesome herbs and vegetables.
- It is clean eating, gluten-free, lacto-vegetarian friendly.
- It takes about 30 minutes to make (plus about 10-15 minutes of prep time) making it great for weeknight meals.
- It pairs well with other sides such as slices of crusty bread, French fries, or salads.
To Make Our Soup We’ll Gather the Following:
- Coconut Milk: Opt to use a full-fat coconut milk. It will be thick and creamy and add great body to the soup but the coconut flavor will not overpower the soup. Usually this soup uses heavy cream but since most heavy creams available contain preservative and stabilizers I tend to avoid using them.
- Broth: You can use a rich vegetable broth or stock. You can also use a good quality chicken (bone) broth or stock if you’re not vegetarian.
- Broccoli: I’m using a whole head of broccoli including the stems. You can also use pre-packaged florets but you’ll need to break them down a bit.
- Carrots: Whole carrots that will be julienned or if you want to save time you can simply cut them into rounds or buy packaged matchstick carrots.
- Celery: Optional, but a stalk of celery adds good flavor to our soup base.
- Onion: You can use yellow, white or even shallots if you like.
- Garlic: I’m using fresh whole cloves but you can also use dried or dehydrated if preferred.
- Fine Thyme: We’ll only use the leaves and will discard the stems and sticks.
- Salt: I’m only using a small amount of Himalayan pink salt (you can also use sea salt if preferred) because our broth, cheese and butter all contains salt. If preferred, you can omit the salt and only use it at the end to adjust the flavor.
- Black Pepper: Pre or fresh ground black pepper can be used. For an extra kick you can use half black pepper and half white pepper.
- Italian Seasoning: This blend of herbs adds great flavor to our soup base.
- Nutmeg: Arguably optional, I highly recommend it as a small touch really adds a phenomenal flavor to the soup.
- Chipotle Powder: An extra kick of spice, chipotle powder plays so nicely with our cheesy sauce base but doesn’t make the soup “spicy”.
- Worcestershire Sauce: This humble sauce packs so much flavor that contains all flavor profiles and elements that really boosts the soup’s flavor.
- Cheese: I highly recommend using block cheddar cheese. My personal recommendation is an extra sharp cheddar, this perfect level of cheesy richness, but you could also use a sharp, medium or mild. Do not use pre-shredded packaged cheese as it contains anti-caking agents that will affect your soup’s smoothness.
- Flour: To keep this recipe gluten-free, I’m using Bob’s 1-1 but if you’re not avoiding gluten you can use equal amounts of whole wheat pastry flour.
- Butter: I’m using salted but you can also use unsalted butter if preferred.
Let Me Show You How Easy This Delicious Soup Is to Make:
Continuing our mise en place (basically the fancy term for gathering and prepping all the ingredients before we start cooking) we’ll mince our onion, garlic and cut our celery stalk into pieces.
Next, we’ll break down our head of broccoli into small florets. You should get about 3 cups of small florets. Note: Don’t toss away the stems! You can use a vegetable peeler to remove the tough outer layer and then cut them into thin julienned sticks.
Speaking of which; the carrots! We’ll also julienne our whole carrots. The easiest way I’ve found to do this is to cut slices on a steep diagonal to create a long and flat piece that we can then chop into slivers…or you can buy and use matchstick carrots or just cut them into evenly sized rounds, whatever works best for you!
And finally we’ll grate our cheese. I highly recommend fresh grating a block of cheddar cheese over using package pre-grated cheese since it tends to contain cellulose or other anti-clumping ingredients and this can affect the smooth velvety texture of your cheesy soup base and you risk it being grainy. Also once you’ve grated your cheese, don’t chuck it back into the fridge, let it hang out at room temp while you start the soup, I’ll explain why in a moment.
We’ll start things off by plopping our butter into our pot and melting it on a med-low heat until it’s bubbling (1). Then we’ll lower the heat and add in our onions and cook them until they’re fragrant and slightly softened (2). Next comes the flour which we’ll add and stir in until a roux is formed (3). Let your flour cook for a few minutes on low heat, this is important to ensure that the flour absorbs all our fat without browning or burning (4).
The next step is to set your heat to medium and whisk in half of our stock/broth (5). Be sure to whisk continuously so that the flour doesn’t clump and is fully incorporated into the broth. Once it begins to thicken, add in the rest of the broth and let it simmer (6) before adding in the coconut milk and your seasonings (7 & 8).
Next comes our Worcestershire sauce (9) and at this point we’ll want to follow three crucial steps to ensure the smoothest cheese soup base (10-12):
- Ensure the soup is not bubbling/boiling when you’re about to add your cheese. – Remove the pot from the heat entirely or set it the lowest it will go and wait about 30 seconds.
- Ensure your cheese it at room temp for the best results. – Too cold cheese might “shock” the melting process and this shock can cause it to separate and become grainy
- Add your cheese in a handful at a time, whisking to incorporate it fully before adding the next handful. – Dumping in all your cheese at once can also cause this because you’re not giving the cheese enough time and space to incorporate and and melt with the soup’s residual heat.
OH NO! My Soup Is GRAINY! What Do I Do?!
It’s okay, it happens to the best of us sometimes, and in most cases you can fix it. The first thing to do is remove the pot from the heat the moment you notice it start to go grainy. Heat will only make it worse. If you can, pour your soup base into a separate and clean pot that isn’t hot.
Once you’ve done that you have two options:
- You can try adding in a splash of lemon juice or white wine to stop the curdling and help the proteins to untangle and relax which should restore a smooth texture. Note that this might affect the final flavor of your soup so start with a small amount. Or
- You can add in a bit more full fat coconut milk or even coconut cream or a spoonful of a mascarpone, both are rich in fats which should help to stop the cheese from curdling. Vigorously whisk it in or use a stick blender to get your soup base back into a creamy texture.
Finally with our smooth and velvety rich cheesy soup base, all that’s left to do is add in our veggies (13). My stove is turned off at this point. I don’t want to continue heating it. I will be adding and mixing in my veggies and then covering my pot and allowing it to rest for 10-15 minutes (14). The residual heat of the soup will gently soften my veggies and the added benefit of this is that it will cook it without over cooking them so there will still be a fresh bite to the veggies instead of it being mush.
Once your soup is rested, all that’s left to do is taste test and adjust your seasonings as needed.
Finally plate your soup up and serve it however you’d like to. It makes a great starter/appetizer or can serve it as the main course with a few slices of crusty bread or even some air-fried French fries and a side salad.
For the best results serve your soup right after it’s rested but you can store leftovers in the fridge, though be aware than when you go to reheat it, your soup will lose some of its body, so if you enjoy the thick, silky texture, you can restore it by bringing the soup to a low simmer and adding in a slurry made or potato starch (or cornstarch) in a 1 part starch to 2 parts water – the amount needed depends on how much you’re trying to reheat so adjust accordingly.
Now, while this soup is delicious on its own, you can add more body to your soup by adding in other vegetables that you enjoy (note if you want to add potatoes in ensure they are precooked since this soup doesn’t boil or simmer long enough to cook potatoes) or making and adding in some Potato Gnocchi like little potato dumplings. If you go this route, I recommend using an egg in the gnocchi dough and using a bit more flour to compensate for the added liquid to the dough. This will help the gnocchi maintain its shape in the soup.
This dish is doesn’t contain any meat but if you like you can add in diced cubes of cooked chicken (do not add raw meat to this dish!), or some crumbles of cooked sausage (I personally recommend Mild or Spicy Italian sausage) even some Thai-inspired Chicken Meatballs or these Beefy, Pan-Fried Meatballs (just omit the tomato sauce and use the cooked meatballs!)
We really hope you love this luscious soup as much as we do. Clean eating and wholesome, it’s wonderfully versatile and a great way to get in your healthy fats and veggies into your meal, and, thanks to the rich, cheesy broth base, even the pickiest of eaters will be able to overlook the vegetables because it’s just that good! 🤗
Broccoli Cheddar Soup
- 4 tbsp salted butter
- 4 tbsp Gluten Free 1-to-1 Baking Flour or whole wheat pastry flour
- 1/2 med onion minced
- 3 cups vegetable broth or chicken (bone) broth
- 1 cup coconut milk full fat
- 1 tsp ground black pepper
- 1 clove garlic minced
- 1/4 tsp Ground Nutmeg
- 1/2 tsp Chipotle Powder
- 1/2 tsp Italian seasoning
- ½ tsp fine thyme
- 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
- 6-8 oz cheddar cheese extra sharp, sharp, medium or mild, shredded
- 2 cups broccoli florets cut into small bits (about 1 head of broccoli)
- 2 med carrots cut into rounds or matchstick
- 1 stalk celery diced, optional
- 1/2 tsp Himalayan salt to taste
- Make Roux: In a large pot, add and melt your butter on low heat. Once melted add the onions and sauté for 3-4 minutes. Sprinkle in your flour and let cook for 2 min, stirring occasionally.
- Make Base and Season: Set your heat to med high and whisk in half of your vegetable or chicken broth/stock, stirring continuously until thickened. Once thickened, add in the rest of the stock and bring to a low simmer, whisking continuously. Add in your coconut milk and seasonings (Pepper, Garlic Nutmeg, Chipotle, thyme, Italian Seasoning and Worcestershire sauce). Simmer for 5 minutes.
- Mix in Cheese: Reduce the heat to the lowest possible setting or remove the pot from the heat entirely and wait until the soup isn't bubbling anymore. Then, add your shredded cheddar, one handful at a time, whisking until each handful is melted before adding another. (Note: If your heat is too high for this step you risk your cheese breaking down and becoming grainy so ensure your heat is set to LOW for a silky smooth soup)
- Add in Veggies: To your smooth and cheesy soup base, add in your small broccoli florets, carrots and celery and stir to incorporate it all together. Then, turn off the heat and cover your soup. Allow it to sit for 10-15 minutes so that the residual heat can soften up the veggies without making them too mushy or soft.
- Serve: Serve your soup. If it is too thick, you can add a bit more stock to thin it out to your desired consistency.
- Store: To store any leftovers, bring your soup to room temperature and store in the fridge for 3-5 days or freeze for up to 3 months. Reheating: When reheating (on the stovetop), your soup may thin out a bit. If this happens you can make a slurry using water and potato starch (2:1) and whisk it into the gently simmering soup to thicken it - the amount needed will depend on how much you're trying to reheat so adjust the slurry amount accordingly.
- Don't discard the broccoli stems! You can peel and julienne it into thin strips and add it to your soup.