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.
A variation of this recipe is Crock Pot Broccoli Cheese Soup. Other classic soups are Chicken Noodle Soup, Vegetable Beef Soup, or Tomato Basil Soup. This recipe is part of our Our Best Soups.
👨🍳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.
Easiest broccoli cheese soup ever. I made this the day after we had a fondue party so I used two different cheese fondues that were leftover. One was a beer cheese fondue & the other was a non-alcoholic Gruyere & Swiss. It turned out amazing! By far the best I’ve ever had. I had also blanched the broccoli for the fondue so cook time was much shorter.
I made it a second time with just sharp cheddar & it wasn’t even close. The quality of the cheese makes all the difference. I also use a blend of evaporated milk & 2%.
By far the best & easiest soup recipe.
Links to the fondue recipes below.
Made this today and was delicious. I think it was just as good as Panera.
Picture shows a bag of sugar. Went thru the recipe 3 times looking for when you add the sugar. Guess it's supposed to be a bag of flour :)
Over a million page views on this recipe and you are the first to pick it up. I keep empty bags for these pictures. A total opps. Photoshop to the rescue soon.
Update. Fixed and you get the one in a million badge
This sounds absolutely Delish! But my Question is could I substitute with Cauliflower? My Husband is not a fan of Broccoli. Let me know your thoughts. Thank you!
Blessings & Merry Christmas
Yep the cauliflower should work but I think it may take a little longer to cook so cook until tender then add the cheese.
Will make this tonite. I’m surprised that people w lactose issues don’t use Lactaid.
No difference in flavor, no tummy issues.
Hi Pat and happy holidays.
First you will love this soup. I do.
The lactaid thing., I want to do a little lecture for the other readers.
Lactaid will break a disaccharide, Lactose, into two monosaccharides, glucose and galactose. So it will taste a bit sweeter since there are two molecules of sugar vs one and that is how taste works. Not by weight but number of molecules. But since the lactose is broken apart, it will absorb and not set in the GI tract and cause gas and diarrhea in the lactase deficient person.
So if you use lactaid treated products, it is sweeter and a bit noticeable if you pay attention but not much. You can also use the lactaid tablets which work after ingestion and work fairly well. These tablets are what most adults with significant lactose issues should keep in their pocket.
I did this little discussion for those people out there that seem to be clueless and never used/heard of lactaid products. Hopefully we did some good for those people.
excelent recipe!! thank you
Made it tonight and my husband absolutely loved it.
Made this tonight and I loved it. It makes a generous amount. The directions were easy to follow as this was my first time making this. I'll add it to my winter menu. Thanks!
very good, easy, quick recipe.....except i used cheap great value (a large chain store) brand cheese, which made it to salty for our taste......add a little more pennies to the menu and get real cheese and everyone will love it........thanks...... i will make this again
Hello DeDan, This recipe is a perfect recipe for gloomy winters and rainy season. I am going to try this soon. My favorite is sweet corn basil recipe. Sharing it with you.
I can't *not* make this soup. Here I am again. This time I didn't have enough broccoli, but did have a teeny potato, and some cauliflower. Also, and wow! I used Applewood Smoked Cheddar. Creme, but no flour.
Such a winner.
I always call this "cheese soup" to my wife. So no broccoli, fine, use something else. Plus everything is better with bacon.
Thanks for the note.
Hello everyone! I actually tweaked this recipe just a bit.
I made it for the first time tonight and then we had some unexpected guests so I had to quickly double it.
During the process I ended up adding:
1 cup extra of milk
2 cups extra of water
1/8 cup flour
I then added more cheese and my plan is to add a little bit of sour cream when finished. But that is optional for everyone. I have been taste testing throughout the entire process and it tastes delicious. This really is a very simple recipe to follow and I am very grateful to have stumbled upon it. Panera broccoli cheddar soup is my absolute favorite. I also plan on eating it with dipping bread, and then for leftovers I am going to put it over rice.
Thank you for the great recipe!
I made this soup for my 5 year old daughter who talks non-stop about broccoli soup and has me buy it in quarts from our nearby deli. She could eat it for every meal if I let her. The only change I made was I added a good amount of bacon and cooked the onion in the bacon fat + butter. It's amazing, and she licked her bowl clean. The bacon added a depth of smokiness, you should try that sometime!
Dear Dr. Dan,
The soup was delicious and very easy to make. I used a bag of shredded cheddar for the cheese. I thought it was better than the Pioneer Woman's recipe. Thank you for the recipe.
Thanks for the note. I think adding the cheese late helps a lot.
What is your experience of freezing this soup? I expect I will freeze a batch without the milk and cheese, to add when reheating another day. Have you done that?
I love this soup too.
I believe it would. I have never done it. We always eat it all.
This soup is delicious! I made the recipe exactly as written (very unlike me) and I wouldn't change a thing. I used cheddar and fontina cheese - a winning combination. Will make again....very soon!
I come for the dogs.
In the midst of making this again, and stopped to say next time, I buy the broccoli already chopped and washed in the handy dandy baggie. I've got those miniscule itty bitty broccoli bits ALL over the kitchan and when you try to wipe them up they won;'t! So. That's change #1. Second I make thte soup minus milk or cream, and cheese, and add them each time I take a container out of the freezer. I am not using a flour/white sauce either. Creme.