Broccoli Cheese Soup

broccoli cheese soup
Broccoli Cheese Soup – it’s healthy because it has vegetables, right?

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broccoli cheese soup

Broccoli Cheese Soup

Just like Panera – okay, not "just" like Panera, I think it's better. And it counts as a vegetable since there's broccoli AND carrots in it.
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Course Main Course, Soup
Cuisine American


  • 1 medium yellow onion diced fine
  • 2 medium carrots peeled and diced fine or shredded
  • 2 pounds broccoli florets or pieces
  • 1-2 teaspoons Kosher salt (to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 15 ounce can chicken broth*
  • 6 Tablespoons butter divided*
  • ¼ cup flour
  • 1 ½ cups milk*
  • ½ cup half and half*
  • 8 oz cheddar or colby jack cheese shredded (can use more if you like it extra cheesy)*

*see Vegan note below for substitutions and adjustments to make it vegetarian/vegan friendly


    • In a large pot, melt 2 Tablespoons of butter and sauté the onion and carrots until soft, about 5-7 minutes.
    • Add in broccoli, garlic powder, 1 teaspoon of salt and all of the chicken broth; cover and simmer until vegetables are VERY soft (about 10 minutes).
    • In the meantime, melt the remaining 4 Tablespoons of butter over medium heat.
    • Whisk in the flour and cook for about 30 seconds, then whisk in the milk and half and half.
    • Heat until thickened then turn off burner and stir in cheese in small handfuls, allowing each addition to melt before adding more.
    • Once vegetables are soft, turn off heat and puree. *I highly recommend using a stick blender directly in the pot for this but if you don’t have one you can use a food processor or a regular blender – just be REALLY REALLY CAREFUL because it is HOT and can spew hot juices all over you while you try to transfer or blend it.
    • Once the veggies are pureed to your liking, stir in the cheese sauce.
    • Taste and add salt as necessary.


    Vegan note: I have not tried making broccoli cheese soup with vegan cheese but I imagine it would work fine.
    My mom likes the Daiya brand, she says it melts really well.
    Olive oil can be subbed out for the butter.
    Substitute vegetable broth for the chicken broth and whatever milk substitute you prefer (probably not coconut milk because that would give it too much sweetness).
    You may need a little more thickener – try upping the flour to 6 tablespoons if you are using a vegan milk replacement.
    Not sure you could still call it broccoli cheese soup at this point…maybe broccoli “cheeze” soup?
    Keyword broccoli cheese soup, vegan, vegetarian

    I’ve moved my crusty bread recipe to its own post, you can find it here!

    Obligatory Fictional Backstory

    When man first discovered broccoli, he immediately decided he did not like it and spat it out. Women discovered its health benefits – those who ate broccoli suffered from less scurvy, for example – but how to get men and children to eat it? The solution: COVER IT IN CHEESE.

    As is common knowledge, everything is better with cheese. From the dawn of time, people have been smothering their broccoli in cheese to make it more palatable to those of less refined tastes. In 1789, in order to make the food stretch, a resourceful woman turned it into broccoli cheese soup to feed her husband and 19 children. That recipe was a bit runnier than I prefer, and since I have far less children to feed I thickened it up significantly for this recipe.

    Real talk

    Okay, okay, so broccoli cheese soup is not the healthiest thing out there. But it DOES have vegetables. And it DOES make a lot of food (luckily it freezes well). And it’s oh so warm and comforting in the fall. Fall to me means sweaters and combat boots and casseroles and soups and pumpkin EVERYTHING. I love Fall.

    I HATE shredding cheese. Despise it. It’s one of the worst things in the world to do.

    “But Lizzie” you may say, “Just buy the pre-shredded!”

    And I do, periodically. But I prefer the flavor of the not pre shredded cheese. Plus I can get a huge chunk of REALLY good cheddar from Costco for way cheap.

    I get around having to grate my cheese by hand by using my Cuisinart food processor. This thing is amazing. Seriously, if the house was on fire and I could only grab one thing, it would probably be this food processor.

    Ironically, despite the fictional backstory, my children prefer their broccoli plain to having it in broccoli cheese soup. I have had some success using it as a cheese sauce over pasta to make more of a vegetable based mac cheese but it really depends on their mood whether they eat it or not. I like to serve it with crusty homemade bread – recipe for that coming soon.

    Salt level will depend on your preference and how salty the cheese you use is. I definitely recommend starting out with a teaspoon of kosher salt at minimum though. I also bought a stick blender almost exclusively for this soup because I had my regular blender explode at me when I tried to use it to mix this (I think I had it too full and the steam expanded too much when I turned it on) – you have been warned twice now, so my lawyers should be happy. They’re fairly inexpensive and it really makes it a lot less messy and a lot easier to blend up soups. Stick blenders, not lawyers. Lawyers are expensive and terrible at blending soups.

    Let’s learn some broccoli facts together! The word broccoli comes from the Italian plural of broccolo, which means “the flowering crest of a cabbage”, and is the diminutive form of brocco, meaning “small nail” or “sprout”. Fascinating. I thought it meant “tiny edible tree”.

    Did you know that China was the leading producer of broccoli in the year 2017 which is apparently when the Wikipedia page for broccoli was last updated? They were followed by India, then the United States.

    Just 3 ounces of broccoli has 100% of your daily value of Vitamin C! Fight scurvy with broccoli! It also apparently has almost 100% of your daily value of Vitamin K. So when your mom told you to eat your broccoli she was trying to keep you from looking like a bleeding rabid mess. Broccoli is also made up of almost 90% water which is odd because it is one of the few vegetables that does not shrink like crazy when you cook it (I’m looking at YOU, dark leafy greens). It also has a ton of fiber.

    Apparently if you leave broccoli in the ground long enough for it to fully bloom it will turn into a bunch of little yellow flowers. The green “florets” are actually its flowers. I want to plant broccoli so that I have an endless supply for broccoli cheese soup but I’ve been a bit overwhelmed by the tomatoes this year so I plan on taking a break before starting again. That and the weather can’t make up its mind and goes from like 40° F to 80° F over the course of a day.

    Ah, Missouri. Will we have frost? Maybe. Will we have a heat advisory? Maybe. Will it all happen in the same day? Probably. Makes it hard to figure out what to wear. I have been trying to get out of this state for years but for some reason it just traps you and keeps you…my mom used to refer to it as purgatory, and I’m beginning to think she may have been right…

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