This quick and easy Broccoli Cheese Soup uses fresh or frozen broccoli and cheddar, Velveeta, or other cheeses.
Only one pot, simple ingredients, and less than an hour is all you need. Add some carrots to make it a copycat of Panera's Broccoli Cheese Soup.
Broccoli—fresh or frozen
Cheese—Velveeta and sharp cheddar cheese preferred
Butter and milk
Broth—chicken or vegetable
Pantry ingredients—flour, salt, pepper
From Lucilla: "Made this soup today, and it is amazing!! Best Broccoli Cheddar soup I’ve ever had, and it’s easy!! This is a keeper for sure!"
From Savannah: "This recipe was amazing. Thank you so much for helping me find a recipe that's all in one pan."
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. It can be modified for a low-carb or keto diet. Easy to adjust the size, and it freezes well.
👨🍳How to Make Broccoli Cheese Soup
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, continue to cook, and stir 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.
This is a summary of the steps and ingredients. See the recipe card or the step-by-step photo instructions below for complete instructions.
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Rich and creamy crock pot broccoli cheese soup is super easy to make with frozen or fresh broccoli and only a few minutes of prep before going in your slow cooker. The perfect comfort food for a cold winter day.
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 be cooked 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, making it creamier than all cheddar. So, it is one of the best cheeses 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.
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.
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.
What to serve with broccoli cheese soup
The classic combinations are soup with a tossed green salad and soup with a sandwich: a grilled cheese, cold ham & cheese, a BLT, or other sandwiches.
Storing and reheating leftovers
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.
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 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 the keto diet, wheat flour should be eliminated, but you can substitute half the volume of corn starch using a slurry with cold water added with the cheese—skip the roux.
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 navigate.
Based on combining Pioneer Woman with an Allrecipes recipe.