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If you are obsessed with the Broccoli Cheese Soup at Panera Bread, this is the recipe for you! It’s made from scratch with REAL actual cheddar cheese and lots of veggies, and it’s incredibly satisfying!

We eat soup for dinner at least once a week! Don’t miss any of my best Soup Recipes, including our favorite Chicken Noodle & Dumpling SoupItalian Wedding Soup, and the always popular Cheeseburger Soup with Bacon!

An image of bowls of homemade broccoli cheese soup.

Better-Than-Panera Broccoli Cheese Soup

I will admit that when I made this for my family the other night, they were skeptical. My broccoli-loving kids turned up their noses at it. My husband doubted whether this broccoli cheese soup would actually make a very filling dinner. 

Everybody gobbled it up just like I knew they would. 

Because anyone who has ever had the broccoli cheese soup at Panera Bread can tell you it is basically one of the most delicious soup recipes ever. Like, EVER, ever.

An image of a large pot of copycat panera bread broccoli cheese soup.

Broccoli cheese soup is a delicious and thick soup made with lots of broccoli and other vegetables in a creamy, almost chowder-like broth and plenty of melted cheddar cheese. It’s surprisingly very filling and it makes for an incredibly comforting dish to serve on a chilly night.

The recipe comes from a blogging friend, Kathleen, from from The Fresh Cooky. We participate in a group together where every few months we secretly swap blogs and pick a recipe to recreate. Then we all surprise each other on the assigned day, which we call “Freaky Friday”. (As an aside, the movie “Freaky Friday” is on Disney+ and I can’t wait to show our kids!).

For the Spring Freaky Friday event, I was assigned Kathleen’s blog where she posts mostly healthy, family friendly recipes and man-oh-man it was difficult to choose what to make. She has so many wonderful-sounding recipes over on The Fresh Cooky!

I seriously considered this Blackberry Grilled Chicken Salad with Fried Goat Cheese and am still planning to make it when we go blackberry picking this summer. And her Sun-Dried Tomato Pasta Salad is another one going on my “to-make” list.

But as soon as I saw Kathleen’s Better-than-Panera Broccoli Cheese Soup, I knew that’s what I was going to make. 

An image of a bowl of broccoli cheddar soup with extra cheese sprinkled on top.

I have been looking for a really excellent broccoli cheese soup recipe for a long time and this one did not disappoint! I love that it’s made with real, actual cheddar instead of Velveeta, like so many other recipes are.

You CAN use Velveeta, if you want, but I highly recommend trying it at least once with real sharp cheddar cheese. It’s amazing and I know you’ll love it!

How to Make Broccoli Cheese Soup

  1. Melt 1 tablespoon of the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat, then saute the onion for 5-7 minutes until lightly caramelized. Transfer the onions to a bowl and then set aside.
  2. Melt the remaining butter in the same pan, and then whisk in the flour. Cook for 2-3 minutes until thickened to create a roux.
  3. Slowly whisk in the half-and-half or whole milk. The mixture will thicken quickly. Whisk in the chicken broth, then bring to a simmer.
  4. Add the broccoli, grated carrots, and reserved onions, then season with salt and pepper. Cover and simmer for 15-20 minutes until the vegetables are tender.
  5. Remove 1-2 cups of the vegetable chunks and then transfer them to a blender. Cover the blender with a towel and then blend to break up the chunks. Return to the pot of soup and stir to combine.
  6. Reduce your heat to low, and then stir in the grated cheddar cheese until it is melted. Remove the pot from the heat and serve immediately.

A collage of images showing how to make broccoli cheese soup.

How long can homemade broccoli cheese soup last?

When you store your leftover broccoli cheddar soup in the fridge, it will last up to 5 days. Make sure to keep it in an airtight container to maintain freshness.

It reheats beautifully on the stove (the easiest approach if you are reheating more than one serving) or in a serving bowl in the microwave, if you are just fixing leftovers for yourself for lunch the next day.

Can I freeze broccoli cheese soup?

Yes, you can freeze broccoli cheese soup, but it doesn’t do quite as well as other soups on my site. To do it, cool the soup completely, then place it in a large Ziploc bag, remove the air and freeze it flat.

But know that with a creamy, milk-based cheese soup like this, when you thaw and reheat the soup there is a chance that the milk will separate and curdle.

Freezing milk-based soups is almost never recommended because of this. If you plan to use the soup as an ingredient in a baked dish such as a casserole, you may not mind the texture change though.

Why is my broccoli cheese soup grainy?

Grainy broccoli cheese soup can happen if you add the milk too quickly when the soup is at too high of a temperature. While the soup is still flavorful, the texture won’t be as creamy.

To avoid this, it’s important to not let the pot get too hot before adding the milk. Just turn the heat down a little on your roux while whisking it to protect the milk as it is added.

What to serve with soup?

Your family is going to LOVE this Better-Than-Panera Broccoli Cheese Soup, especially if you serve it with a loaf of Homemade French Bread or Sweet Molasses Brown Bread! It’s a fantastic choice if you are looking to decrease your meat consumption, and you can make it vegetarian just by using vegetable broth in place of chicken broth.

Broccoli cheese soup is also delicious with an Olive Garden Salad (mixing restaurant-inspired dishes never tasted so good!) or maybe Raspberry Pretzel Salad for dessert!

An image of a bowl of homemade broccoli cheddar soup topped with fresh grated sharp cheddar cheese.

More soup recipes to try!

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Broccoli Cheese Soup
Yield: 6 Servings

Broccoli Cheese Soup

If you are obsessed with the Broccoli Cheese Soup at Panera Bread, this is the recipe for you! It's made from scratch with REAL actual cheddar cheese and lots of veggies, and it's incredibly satisfying!

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon butter, divided
  • 1/2 medium onion, chopped
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups half-and-half or whole milk
  • 2 cups chicken broth (plus up to 2 cups additional, if desired for a thinner soup)
  • 1/2 pound fresh broccoli (about 3 cups), chopped into small pieces
  • 1 cup grated carrot (1-2 carrots depending on size)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 8 ounces freshly grated sharp cheddar cheese (about 2 cups)

Instructions

  1. Melt 1 tablespoon of the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat, then saute the onion for 5-7 minutes until lightly caramelized. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.
  2. Melt the remaining butter in the same pan, then whisk in the flour. Cook for 2-3 minutes until thickened to create a roux.
  3. Slowly whisk in the half-and-half or whole milk. The mixture will thicken quickly. Whisk in the chicken broth, then bring to a simmer.
  4. Add the broccoli, grated carrots, and reserved onions, then season with salt and pepper. Cover and simmer 15-20 minutes until the vegetables are tender.
  5. Remove 1-2 cups of the vegetable chunks and transfer to a blender. Cover the blender with a towel and blend to break up the chunks. Return to the pot of soup and stir to combine.
  6. Reduce heat to low, then stir in the grated cheddar cheese until melted. Remove from heat and serve immediately.

Notes

  • Leftover soup can be stored in the fridge for up to 5 days and reheated in the microwave.

Recipe from The Fresh Cooky.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

6

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 349Total Fat: 25gSaturated Fat: 15gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 8gCholesterol: 78mgSodium: 1322mgCarbohydrates: 17gFiber: 2gSugar: 8gProtein: 16g

Take a look at all of our 2020 Freaky Friday Winter Edition Recipes: