Warm up with this rich, cheesy, a little bit healthier, Broccoli Cheddar Soup. It's filled with fresh broccoli and carrots, all nestled in a creamy cheesy base.
It takes less than 30 minutes to whip up making it perfect for quick weeknight dinners and warm lunches. Gluten-free, dairy-free, keto, and vegan options given.
Cold weather is my favorite time to make soups. There just seems to be something comforting about a bowl of nice hot soup. And it brings back such warm memories of going ice skating at the pond down the street and coming home to a hot bowl of my Mom's homemade chicken noodle soup. Ah, I can taste it now!
I have logged in quite a few soups of my own while my kids were growing up and, besides the family's favorite turkey pastina soup and baked potato soup, I would have to say this broccoli cheese soup is right up there.
It's quick and easy, can be made with fresh or frozen broccoli, and only dirties one pot so clean up is a breeze. Surprisingly, each bowl of this Broccoli Carrot Cheese Soup offers almost 2 servings of vegetables, a ton of protein and calcium as well as dietary fiber and antioxidants. In other words, you're going to feel pretty good about serving this to the family.
This cheddar and broccoli soup will last 4-5 days in the refrigerator.
Absolutely! This soup freezes very well. Store in an airtight container for up to two months.
Most cheesy, creamy soups are far from healthy but this version of cream of broccoli cheese soup is healthier than most. Using non-fat half and half, and low-fat cheese cuts a lot of the fat calories out of the recipe. For even lower fat content, use water with the flour for thickening instead of the butter.
Broccoli Cheddar Soup Ingredients
Broccoli - fresh broccoli is preferred but frozen (about 2 10-oz packages, thawed) and roasted broccoli (without the parmesan) can also be used.
Carrots - are a great addition for added vitamins and minerals without a change in overall flavor. You can also use the frozen combination of broccoli, cauliflower and carrots.
Butter - lends a richer flavor to the soup but you can also use olive oil or vegetable oil for browning the onion and garlic.
Onion/ Garlic - both add important vitamins and minerals to the soup as well as adding some sweetness from the onions and an almost nutty flavor from the garlic.
Chicken Stock - is used as the base of the soup offering up some protein along with the healthy vegetables. Vegetable broth can be used for vegan/vegetarian diets.
Half and half - makes the soup richer as well as adding calcium. I like to use non-fat or low-fat half and half or 2% milk to keep the calorie count down.
Nutmeg/ Salt/ Pepper - enhance and balance the flavors
Cheddar Cheese - brings cheesy goodness to the mix and who doesn't love that?! You can opt for white cheddar, mild cheddar, or even a more gourmet cheese like Gruyere. I like to use a low-fat version of whatever cheese I'm using to cut calories.
Before starting to make this delicious Broccoli Carrot Cheese Soup check out the alternatives that best fit your lifestyle.
Dairy-free - Exchange the half and half for a dairy-free alternative milk like cashew or oat and the cheddar cheese for a vegan variety (Parmela Shreds has a cashew-based cheddar variety).
Gluten-free - make sure that the chicken stock is gluten-free and replace the flour with cornstarch for thickening.
Keto/Low Carb Broccoli Cheese Soup - opt for heavy cream in lieu of non-fat half and half and regular cheddar cheese as well as 1-2 tablespoons of cream cheese to help thicken the soup base. If the soup still needs thickening, add ½ teaspoon xanthan gum. You can also up the protein with the addition of bacon, ham or chicken.
Vegan Broccoli Cheddar Soup - Substitute vegetable broth for chicken stock, a non-dairy milk for the half and half and ¼ cup nutritional yeast and ½ cup soaked raw cashews for the cheese. Since there is no cheese I like to add 2 potatoes, diced, as well as several stalks of chopped celery.
Vegetarian - substitute vegetable broth for the chicken stock.
How to Make Homemade Broccoli Cheese Soup
- In a large stockpot, saute the onion & garlic in 1 tablespoon butter or olive oil.
- Once the onion has softened, add the broccoli and carrots.
- Pour in the chicken stock.
- Add the half and half .
- Season the mixture then bring to a boil., Reduce heat and simmer 20 minutes or until vegetables are done.
- Remove from heat.
- Using an immersion blender or your favorite Vitamix or Ninja Foodie Blender*, blend soup to desired consistency. I like to leave mine slightly chunky so there is a bit more substance.
Caution: If using a regular blender, do it in 3-4 batches as the heat will cause the liquid to explode if too much is added at once. If you want a chunkier soup, leave some of the broccoli in the stockpot while blending the rest.
- Stir in cheese. If using a blender, return pureed soup to stockpot then add cheese.
- To thicken the soup, make a slury with the flour and butter. To do this, melt butter in a small saucepan. Whisk in flour and stir well. Add a bit of the soup and stir to temper. In other words, make blending it with the larger pot of soup easier without creating lumps.
- Add this tempered sluty to the larger pot. Let simmer about 5-10 minutes or until it thickens slightly. Note: If the soup is a little too thick, thin it with additional chicken stock.
Serve garnished with a sprinkling of cheese and some crumbled bacon, if desired.
Now take a taste. It reminds me so much of the flavors of my favorite Panera Broccoli Cheddar Soup but it tastes even better! It's rich, healthier, and oh so warming on a cold winter's day. Enjoy!
Crockpot + Instant Pot Cooking Options
This soup is so quick and easy on the stovetop I do not use either of these alternative cooking methods. However, the crockpot method would be an option for those wanting to start dinner while away at work.
Crockpot - Add everything but the cheese, flour and butter for the slurry and cook on low for 4 hours. When ready to serve, make the flour and butter slurry then add a bit of the soup to temper. Slowly add the slurry to the pot of soup along with the cheese and stir until the mixture thickens slightly and the cheese melts. Serve immediately.
Instant Pot - Saute the onion and garlic as per recipe below. Add the vegetables, chicken stock and seasonings. Lock top in place and cook 1 minute on high. Release pressure manually. Set to saute once more and add half and half, tempered slurry and the cheese. Stir until the mixture has thickened and cheese has melted.
Take Broccoli Cheddar Soup Up a Notch
There are any number of ways to change up this soup and make it one of a kind. Check out all your options. It will be hard to decide and they're all good!
- Broccoli Cheese Soup with Rice - add ¼ cup uncooked rice and simmer until rice has cooked through
- Chicken Broccoli Cheddar Soup - At the end of the 20 minute simmer, add about 1 pound of rotisserie chicken to the soup and heat until warmed through.
- Broccoli Potato Cheese Soup - dice 3-4 potatoes and add to soup. Simmer the regular 20 minutes called for in the recipe of until the potatoes are softened. Mash the potatoes and they will act as a thickener so no flour will be necessary.
- Ham Broccoli Cheese Soup - Brown ham with onion and garlic then proceed as directed in recipe.
- Broccoli Cream Cheese Soup - 4-oz cream cheese can be used to make the soup thicker and creamier without the need for a flour slurry.
- Velvetta Broccoli Cheese Soup - are for those that want a thick cheesy soup. Add about 12-16 ounces shredded Velvetta and stir until melted. You will probably want to omit the flour slurry as the soup will be thickened by the cheese.
- Broccoli Cauliflower Cheese Soup - Substitute half of broccoli with cauliflower (a small head of each should work)
What to Serve with Broccoli Cheese Soup
This homemade soup can be a stand-alone lunch or paired with something more substantial for a warm, hearty dinner. Try serving with a grilled cheese sandwich or BLT sandwich a la soup and sandwich.
Perhaps try a crunchy Waldorf Salad containing apples or a Pear Walnut Salad a la soup and salad, or opt for something simpler like delicious jalapeno cornbread muffins or dinner rolls.
More Soup Recipes
Vegetable Beef Soup using Soup Bones has deep flavor and alphabet noodles for extra heartiness.
Blender Tomato Soup with fresh basil is perfect any time of the year.
Creamy Tortellini Soup from Went Here 8 This - is a soup filled with ham, beans, veggies, and delicious cheese-filled tortellini that takes less than 40 minutes.
30 Minute Chicken Noodle Soup made with rotisserie or leftover chicken and fresh vegetables.
Find more soup recipes here on 2CM!
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Healthy Broccoli Cheddar Soup
- 1 tablespoon butter or olive oil
- ½ onion, roughly chopped
- 2-3 cloves garlic, chopped
- 4-6 cups fresh broccoli about 1 large head, cut up including softer part of the stalk
- 1 cup baby carrots chopped
- 2 to 2-½ cups chicken stock (use vegetable stock for vegetarian option)
- 2 cups non-fat half-and-half
- ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ¾ teaspoon black pepper
- 8 oz low-fat sharp cheddar cheese, grated + additional for garnish
- ¼ cup butter
- ¼ cup all-purpose flour or cornstarch (for gluten-free)
- 2 pcs cooked crumbled bacon optional
- In a stockpot, saute the onion & garlic in 1 tablespoon butter or olive oil.
- Add broccoli, carrots, half and half, chicken stock and seasoning to pot. Bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer 20 minutes or until vegetables are done.
- Using an immersion blender or a regular blender, blend soup to desired consistency. I like to leave a little of the broccoli and carrot bits in the soup. Caution: If using a regular blender, do it in 3-4 batches as the heat will cause the liquid to explode if too much is added at once.
- Return to stockpot and stir in cheese.
- To thicken, melt butter in a small saucepan. Whisk in flour and stir well. Add a bit of the soup and stir to temper then add to larger pot. Let simmer about 5-10 minutes or until it thickens slightly.Note: If the soup is a little too thick, thin it with additional chicken stock.
- Serve garnished with a sprinkling of cheese and some crumbled bacon, if desired.
This post has been updated and was first published on January 21, 2015.
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