Broccoli Cheddar Soup: A Panera copycat version, this soup can be made as indulgent or healthily as you want with just a few small tweaks to the recipe.


In the midst of holiday preparation craziness, there was this soup.  Broccoli cheddar soup.

A knock-off of the famed and beloved Panera version, this version is a lighter homemade version where you control the ingredients. I love soups like this one!

I’ve made this broccoli cheddar soup recipe a handful of times over the past few years and I seem to make it a little differently each time, mostly just varying the milk ratio (i.e. sometimes adding a little cream in place of some of the skim milk), but it turns out fabulous each and every time.

The consistency isn’t as thick as Panera’s version but like I said, it’s on the lighter side, so if you want to thicken it up, just increase the cream-milk ratio.

And aside from a regular weeknight meal, in the past I’ve also made a double batch of the soup, kept it warm in the crock pot, and served it in coffee mugs as a warm appetizer during fall and winter parties.

The most recent time this soup appeared in our kitchen, I was in the middle of packaging up my Christmas treats over the course of a few days and because the recipe left us a fair amount of leftovers, it was so nice to be able to quickly heat up a bit for lunch.

This broccoli cheddar soup is always a big hit here and has definitely one of our favorites over the years!

If you want to round out this soup into a meal, I can highly recommend the following recipes:

The sandwich option: Ina’s Ultimate Grilled Cheese
The salad option: Greek Salad
The quiche option (think: BRUNCH!!): Caramelized Onion and Spinach Egg Casserole
The bread option: Cheddar-filled Pretzel Rolls (you can skip stuffing them with cheddar and make plain pretzel rolls instead too!)

  • Prep Time: 15min
  • Cook Time: 15-20min
  • Yield: 4-6 servings


Feel free to adjust the type of milk or cream you use based on how thick and creamy you want this soup to be. For the lightest version, use all skim milk and a reduced fat cheese. For a super indulgent soup, use 1 cup each of whole milk and heavy cream along with full-fat cheese.


6 tbsp butter, divided
¾ cup onion, chopped
1 cup carrot, chopped or shredded
4 cups small broccoli florets
3 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
½ tsp onion powder
½ tsp garlic powder
4 tbsp flour
2 cups milk or cream (any kind)
4 oz (2 cups) shredded sharp cheddar cheese (do not use pre-shredded as it doesn’t always melt well)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper


  • 01

    In a large stockpot or Dutch oven, melt 2 tablespoons of butter over medium heat.  Add the onion and carrots to the pan and sauté until tender, about 5-7 minutes.  Stir in the broth, onion salt and garlic powder.  Bring the mixture to a boil, add the broccoli, then reduce the heat to a simmer.

  • 02

    Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, melt the remaining butter.  Add the flour and cook for 1-2 minutes until lightly golden brown, whisking constantly.  Whisk in the milk and cook until the mixture thickens and bubbles, about 5 minutes.  Once the mixture has thickened, remove the saucepan from the heat and whisk in the cheese until completely melted.  Slowly pour the cheese sauce into the soup pot and stir to combine the mixtures.  Allow to simmer until warmed through and broccoli is tender.  Season with salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.  If desired, puree the soup with an immersion blender for a smoother texture.

slightly adapted from Annie’s Eats