Panera Broccoli Cheddar Soup

The Creamy Broccoli Cheddar Soup, inspired by the beloved Panera classic, is a warm, comforting dish that blends the richness of sharp cheddar cheese with the fresh, earthy flavors of broccoli and carrot. It’s a recipe that transforms simple ingredients into a luxurious and satisfying meal, perfect for cozy evenings or as a delightful lunch option.

Choosing Ingredients

  1. Broccoli: Opt for fresh broccoli for the best texture and flavor. Frozen can be used in a pinch, but it may alter the soup’s consistency.
  2. Cheddar Cheese: Sharp cheddar gives a depth of flavor, but you can experiment with milder cheddars or even a mix of cheeses like Gruyere or a bit of Parmesan for a more complex profile.
  3. Half-and-Half Cream: This gives the soup its creamy texture. For a lighter version, use milk or a milk substitute, although this will affect the creaminess.
  4. Carrots: Julienned carrots add sweetness and color. You can grate them instead for a subtler texture.
  5. Chicken Stock or Broth: Use low-sodium versions to control the salt level better. Vegetable broth can be a great vegetarian substitute.

Preparation Tips

  • Sautéing Onions: Ensure that the onions are well-cooked to bring out their sweetness, which balances the soup’s flavors.
  • Thickening the Soup: The flour and butter roux is crucial for the right consistency. Cook the flour well to avoid a raw taste.
  • Blending for Texture: If you prefer a smooth soup, an immersion blender can be used directly in the pot. For chunkier soup, blend only a portion or none at all.
  • Cheese Addition: Add cheese gradually on low heat to avoid it becoming grainy. Stir continuously for a smooth texture.

Variations and Substitutions

  • Dietary Adjustments: For a gluten-free version, use a gluten-free flour blend for the roux.
  • Vegan Adaptation: Use almond milk, vegan cheese, and vegetable broth for a vegan version.
  • Additional Flavors: Enhance the soup with spices like paprika or a dash of cayenne pepper for a bit of heat.
  • Garnish Options: Top with extra cheese, croutons, or a sprinkle of fresh herbs like parsley or chives for added flavor and presentation.

Serving Suggestions

This soup pairs wonderfully with crusty bread, a side salad, or as a precursor to a main course. It’s also fantastic for meal prep, as the flavors deepen when stored in the fridge, making for delicious leftovers. Enjoy this versatile and heartwarming dish that’s sure to become a favorite in your recipe collection.

Refined Broccoli Cheddar Soup Recipe


  • 1/4 cup of butter, melted
  • 1/2 of a medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup of all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups of half-and-half cream
  • 2 cups of chicken stock or broth
  • 1/2 pound of fresh broccoli, chopped into bite-sized pieces (approximately 3 cups)
  • 1 cup of julienned carrots (pre-packaged matchstick carrots are a convenient option)
  • 1/4 teaspoon of nutmeg (optional, but enhances flavor)
  • 8 ounces of sharp cheddar cheese, grated (about 2 cups)
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. In a large saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the chopped onions and cook until they are translucent.
  2. Sprinkle the flour over the onions and butter. Continue to cook, stirring constantly, for 1-2 minutes.
  3. Gradually whisk in the half-and-half cream and chicken stock, ensuring there are no lumps.
  4. Add the chopped broccoli and julienned carrots to the saucepan. Reduce the heat to low and let the soup simmer for 20-25 minutes, or until the vegetables are soft.
  5. Season the soup with salt and pepper to taste. For a smoother texture, you may choose to blend about 1 cup of the soup and then reincorporate it into the pot.
  6. Over low heat, add the grated cheddar cheese to the soup, stirring until it is well incorporated and melted. Be cautious not to overheat as this can cause the soup to become grainy.
  7. If desired, stir in the nutmeg for added flavor.
  8. Serve the soup warm, accompanied by crusty bread for a complete meal.

Additional Notes:

  • For a healthier twist, you can use low-fat half-and-half and low-sodium chicken broth.
  • The nutmeg is an optional ingredient but adds a subtle depth to the soup’s flavor profile.
  • It’s important to cook the flour properly to avoid a raw flour taste in the soup.
  • For those who prefer a completely smooth soup, you can blend the entire mixture in batches using a blender or immersion blender.
  • This soup pairs wonderfully with a fresh green salad or a sandwich for a more filling meal.
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