Copycat Panera Broccoli Cheddar Soup — In just 30 minutes, you can have a delicious and healthy broccoli cheese soup on the table. No one will guess this broccoli cheddar soup recipe has been lightened up and contains only a fraction of the fat and calories of Panera Bread’s famous broccoli cheese soup.
My husband is in love with Broccoli Cheese Soup.
He told my mom that her soup ranks above a New York Strip Roast for him.
Like WHOA! That was a revelation we were not expecting.
My mom’s version of Broccoli Cheese Soup is beyond decadent and there is nothing good about it for you expect the broccoli. She uses heavy cream, tons of butter, and A LOT of processed cheese.
I can not eat it. She make me Minestrone—thanks, Mom!
But once a year, she serves her Broccoli Cheese Soup up to the family and they devour it.
I never tried to make the soup at home–there seemed no way for me to trick my husband into eating my version over my mom’s.
But one day, when my husband and I met up for lunch at Panera, he choose to have their Broccoli Cheese Soup. He took a bite and told me that he really enjoyed it.
That was it! I knew that there were plenty of copy-cat versions of Panera’s soup floating around the web, that may not be exactly light, but at least used REAL food.
So I made a version and we all loved it, kids included.
I made Broccoli Cheddar Soup again, but this time with less butter and evaporated milk in place of half and half and no one batted an eyelash.
Copycat Panera Broccoli Cheddar Soup
This is NOT my mom’s broccoli cheese soup and white it tastes like Panera’s Broccoli Cheddar Soup, it is NOT as high in fat or calories. And it does NOT take over an hour to make–only 30 minutes–making this another one of my go-to easy 30 minute family meals.
In fact, my husband, who is my toughest critic, said “I nailed it.”
So if you want to serve up a bowl of comfort that has been lightened up, this is the soup for you!
And if you are looking for pure decadence, this broccoli cheddar soup will trick you into thinking that it is just that, decadent–and you have saved yourself a few calories to enjoy an extra roll!
Dig in and Enjoy!
Notes on Healthy Broccoli Cheddar Soup
- Fresh broccoli florets work perfectly in this broccoli soup. Just chop the florets into 1 inch pieces. However, if you would like to use frozen broccoli florets, either defrost and add them in soup as you would fresh florets. OR steam the broccoli florets and add them in with the cheese and milk near end of the cooking time.
- Evaporated skim milk is a great low-fat swap for heavy cream or half and half in this Broccoli Cheddar Soup recipe. The milk has been condensed and so it still has a rich flavor, just with zero fat. Feel free to use 1 1/2 cup of half and half or heavy cream in place of the evaporated milk.
- To make this Gluten Free Broccoli Cheddar Soup, use 1:1 Gluten Free Flour Blend in place of the traditional flour.
- Fresh nutmeg helps the creamy flavor of the cheesy broccoli soup pop, but if you only have ground nutmeg, it is best to omit the nutmeg altogether.
- I use extra sharp cheddar cheese and freshly grated Parmesan cheese, as both these cheeses are extremely rich in flavor–so a little goes a long way! This lets me use less cheese in the Broccoli Cheese Soup, but it still have incredible cheesy flavor.
- Another tip on using cheese in soups, is to FRESHLY grate your cheese from a block of cheese. Pre-shredded cheese is often coated in an anti-caking agent, making it not melt as evenly into your soup.
- If you have leftover fresh broccoli, use it to make this Healthy Broccoli Salad from Rachel Cooks.
Broccoli Cheese Soup Recipe
Copycat Panera Broccoli Cheddar Soup
A lightened-up, homemade version of Panera Bread's Broccoli Cheese Soup
- 2 tablespoons butter
- ½ medium chopped onion
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 1 cup carrot shredded
- 3 cups chicken stock
- 12 ounce can evaporated skim milk
- 2 cups fresh broccoli florets chopped
- ¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 4 ounces grated sharp cheddar cheese
- 1/4 cup grated fresh Parmesan cheese
- salt and pepper to taste
Heat a large heavy bottomed casserole dish over medium-high heat. Add the butter and melt.
Add the diced onion and saute for about 5 minutes, until onion begins to soften and become translucent.
Add the flour and stir into the onions and butter and cook for 1 minute.
Slowly add the chicken stock, whisking well as you add the liquid.
Bring to a boil and add in the carrots, broccoli, and nutmeg. Reduce to a simmer and cover and let cook for about 10 minutes, or until broccoli is cooked through.
Whisk in the cheese and evaporated milk and allow to cook for an additional 2-5 minutes, to let the cheese melt, stirring constantly.
Taste and add salt and pepper as needed.