This quick and easy Broccoli Cheese Soup uses fresh or frozen broccoli and cheddar, Velveeta, or other cheeses. Make it a copycat of Panera's Broccoli Cheese Soup.
Broccoli cheese shop is the perfect comfort food for a cold day. Packed with cheddar, Velveeta, or the cheeses of your choice with tender broccoli.
This recipe only uses one pot, either fresh or frozen broccoli that is cooked in the soup. No cream or unnecessary fat is added.
With easy step-by-step photo instructions, it's ready in 30 minutes or a bit more. And can be modified for a low-carb or keto diet.
Based on combining Pioneer Woman with an Allrecipes recipe. It is easy to double for leftovers since it will store and freeze well. Or make a Panera variation that's better than the original and only costs a fraction of Panera or the deli.
👨🍳How to Make Broccoli Cheese Soup
- Prepare fresh or frozen broccoli by trimming the broccoli florets into bite-size chunks.
- Saute onion in butter in a heavy soup pot or Dutch oven. Add the garlic near the end of cooking.
- Sprinkle in flour and make a rour.
- Slowly add chicken or vegetable broth and milk while stirring to thicken.
- When thickened, add the broccoli. Decrease to simmer and cover.
- Cook until the broccoli is tender—about 20 to 25 minutes.
- Puree with an immersion blender or potato masher if you want that texture.
- Add in cheese, and simmer for 5 more minutes until cheese is melted.
I suggest fresh broccoli for this soup, but frozen broccoli can be used. One large head will make about 3 cups of broccoli florets. A 12 oz. bag of frozen broccoli will also be about 3 cups of florets.
Previously cooked leftover broccoli can be used. It can be added after thickening along with the cheese if not using something like carrots that need to be cooked. It will be hot when the cheese is melted and ready to serve.
The size of the florets should be relatively small to fit easily in a spoon. Both fresh and frozen broccoli may need to be cut into smaller chunks. Both will cook in the soup.
Sharp cheddar cheese is the most common cheese for this soup. I like to use Velveeta for part of the cheese for the texture and taste. But select the cheeses you like.
Shredded cheese has some anti-clumping coating and is preferred to solid cheese—I use the brand name shredded cheese.
Velveeta is made for melting and will do well in this soup and make it creamier than all cheddar. So it is one of the best cheese that can be added.
If your cheese separates or clumps, it is your cheese, not the recipe. Usually, this will be generic poor-quality cheese or outdated cheese. But it rarely happens since we add it at the end of cooking and melt it.
Many suggest heavy cream or half&half. I find more than enough milk fat in the cheese—I always use lower-fat milk. The Velveeta also makes the soup creamier. But use the dairy of your choice.
Copycat Panera's Broccoli Cheese Soup
If you want to copycat Panera Broccoli Cheddar Soup, add carrot and celery with the broccoli.
You will need about 1 cup of carrots. Matchstick-cut carrots are available in most produce departments. Or one large or two smaller carrots can be diced, julienned, or shredded.
The second component is one rib of thinly sliced celery.
Bacon or Ham Broccoli Cheese Soup
Everything is better with bacon. This is my wife's obsession. Chop three strips of bacon into ½ inch squares and fry until done. Drain and add along with the cheese.
Diced leftover ham also works well.
Cauliflower Cheese Soup
Several commenters want to use cauliflower to replace broccoli, but cauliflower may take a few minutes more to cook. So use the same volume, and the endpoint of the cauliflower is tender, and you should be fine.
Add some flavor with an optional touch of nutmeg or paprika. Add about ¼ teaspoon at the start of simmering if you wish—one or the other, not both.
A single recipe makes about 7 to 8 cups of soup, and you need some working room in the pot to make the roux and mix.
For a single recipe, a four-quart or larger soup pot or Dutch oven. For the suggested double recipe, use a 6 ½ quart Dutch oven.
There are only 12 grams of carbohydrates per serving, but half of that is from the flour. You can skip thickening with flour and add more cheese or incorporate more broccoli with the blender. There are also low-carb thickeners available.
For gluten-free diets, like for the keto diet, wheat flour should be eliminated but you can substitute half the volume of corn starch if you want.
Usually, chicken broth is used, but vegetable broth is also acceptable. I typically use lower sodium broth and add more salt later to taste.
Stores well in the refrigerator for 3-4 days. But it never lasts more than two days at our house (we eat it.)
It will freeze well in an airtight container like a freezer Ziplock bag for 3-4 months.
Reheat on the stovetop with medium-low heat or in a microwave. Thaw first if frozen.
This recipe is listed in these categories. See them for more similar recipes.
Step-by-Step Photo Instructions
These are double-batch pictures. The recipe discussion below is a single batch, and the ingredient list is for a single batch.
Rinse and spoon-size chop one head of fresh broccoli, or use 12 oz of frozen broccoli. Trim any larger florets into spoon size chunks.
Mince a small or ½ of a medium onion. Over medium-high heat, melt 4 tablespoons of butter. Add onion and saute until clearing—about 3 minutes. Add 1 clove of minced garlic and cook one more minute.
Decrease the heat to medium. Add ¼ cup flour and continue to cook and stir continually until browning some—about 3 minutes.
Slowly add two cups of chicken or vegetable broth, and stir to mix in the flour mixture. Add ½ teaspoon of salt and ½ teaspoon of black pepper. Allow to thicken some, then slowly add 2 cups of milk. Bring to a low boil and allow to thicken.
Add broccoli, cover, and turn down the heat to simmer. Simmer until broccoli is tender—about 20 to 25 minutes.
Option: Some people like to puree with an immersion blender through the soup at this point. I only want a little blending, so I suggest a potato masher.
Add 2 cups of cheese of your choice. A mixture of sharp cheddar and Velveeta is suggested. Simmer another 5 minutes and serve.
Quick and Easy Broccoli Cheese Soup
- 1 head broccoli large head - or 12 oz bag of frozen broccoli
- ¼ cup butter
- 1 onion - small
- 1 clove garlic
- ¼ cup flour
- 2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon pepper
- 2 cups milk
- 2 cups shredded cheese of choice - assume 4 oz. equals 1 cup if not shredded cheese. Sharp cheddar and Velveeta mix is preferred.
For Panara copycat soup-add with broccoli
- 1 cup carrot - matchstick, shredded, or diced
- 1 rib celery
- Rinse and spoon-size chop one head of fresh broccoli, or use 12 oz of frozen broccoli. Trim any larger florets into spoon size chunks.
- Mince a small or ½ of a medium onion. Over medium-high heat, melt 4 tablespoons of butter. Add onion and saute until clearing—about 3 minutes. Add 1 clove of minced garlic and cook one more minute.
- Decrease the heat to medium. Add ¼ cup flour and continue to cook and stir continually until browning some—about 3 minutes.
- Slowly add two cups of chicken or vegetable broth, and stir to mix in the flour mixture. Add ½ teaspoon of salt and ½ teaspoon of black pepper. Allow to thicken some, then slowly add 2 cups of milk. Bring to a low boil and allow to thicken.
- Add broccoli, cover, and turn down the heat to simmer. Simmer until broccoli is tender—about 20 to 25 minutes.
- Option: Some people like to puree with an immersion blender through the soup at this point. I only want a little blending, so I suggest a potato masher.
- Add 2 cups of cheese of your choice. A mixture of sharp cheddar and Velveeta is suggested. Simmer another 5 minutes and serve.Quick & Easy
Your Own Private Notes
- Choose the cheeses you like. I prefer half Velveeta and half shredded sharp cheddar.
- Frozen broccoli works fine but may take a few minutes longer to cook but will eliminate about 10 minutes of prep time for fresh broccoli.
- If you want to copycat Panera, then add 1 cup of matchstick-cut carrots and 1 stalk of thinly sliced celery at the same time as the broccoli.
- Make it Bacon Broccoli Cheese Soup. Everything is better with bacon. Chop 3 strips of bacon into ½ inch squares and fry until done. Drain and add along with the cheese.
- Great as leftovers. Good refrigerated for 3-4 days and frozen for 3 months.
To adjust the recipe size:
You may adjust the number of servings in this recipe card under servings. This does the math for the ingredients for you. BUT it does NOT adjust the text of the instructions. So you need to do that yourself.
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Editor's note: Originally published December 19, 2015. This has become one of my go-to recipes and is now updated with expanded options, refreshed photos, and a table of contents to help navigation.