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Better-than-Panera Broccoli Cheese Soup

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Delicious, better-than-Panera Broccoli Cheese soup. Fresh broccoli, shredded carrots, in a flavorful, beautifully balanced, all-natural, creamy broth; with delicious, melted, gooey, sharp cheddar cheese. And it’s SO easily converted to be gluten free and/or vegetarian.

Better-than-Panera Broccoli Cheese Soup

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Nothing gets me going like a great soup! What about you? I think you are either a soup person…or not. I am soup people, I could eat it every night; brothy, creamy, tomato based — all types, I just don’t do seafood.

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I have never been a fan of “bottom-dwellers.” A few years ago after taking Krill Oil as my omega for 6 months, I ended up in the doctor’s office with a “classic shellfish” rash, it wasn’t pretty! While not a huge allergy, it was all I needed to hear to steer clear of shellfish. My poor, shellfish loving, New England raised husband; he loves all shellfish! Sorry honey!

Ah, but I digress…back to this amazing Better-than-Panera Broccoli Cheese Soup (with no shellfish) ;-).

I’ve had this recipe sitting around for awhile, I was inspired to make this soup to bring to my dear friend who had surgery. I made a pot to bring to their family earlier this week, only to find out she hadn’t been released from the hospital.

The docs were having a hard time controlling her pain; so along with making this soup, I sent texts to my prayer-warrior friends. Never, ever underestimate the power of prayerful petitions to our great, loving and compassionate God! So our family ate the soup instead, and I made her family a fresh pot later in the week.

//This post was updated and edited March 2019//

Broccoli Cheese Soup Using Fresh Ingredients

It hit “the spot” that’s for sure! I even dished it out in these cute little to-go soup cups, I’m a sucker for anything fun in the paper goods department. Great to bring to work for a quick, hot, nutritious, heat and serve lunch — or store in the fridge at home during a busy week, pop in the micro for a few seconds and presto, you have lunch!

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I hope you give it a try, it’s better than any soup using condensed soups or Velveeta cheese, no fake cheese in this soup!! I wanted a soup where you could taste the cheese, not just tint it orange. The orange tinting actually comes from the carrots instead! And seriously, it’s was pretty darn easy!

How to Make Better-than-Panera Broccoli Cheese Soup

In a medium-sized soup pot, heat a tablespoon of butter over medium high heat. Toss in onions, browning or caramelizing, stirring occasionally.

chopped white onion in a saucepan.

What’s a Roux and how do you make it?

Remove the onions to a plate or bowl while you prepare the roux (roo)…

noun. 1. a cooked mixture of butter or other fat and flour used to thicken sauces, soups, etc. Origin of roux. Latin.

Gluten Free Broccoli Cheese Soup

Melt 1/4 cup of butter in the same pot used to brown your onions. Then add all-purpose flour (or sub with Gluten Free All-Purpose flour) and whisk or stir it until it thickens and turns a golden brown, about 2-3 minutes.

whisking flour into butter mixture to make a roux for broccoli cheese soup

Slowly pour in your half and half, whisking while you do…it’s a bit hard to whisk and photograph all at the same time, but be assured I grabbed that whisk as soon as I was finished snapping the shot.

pouring in half and half into roux mixture with whisk sitting in a medium pot.

Next add your chicken stock/broth. Whisking to combine.

Pouring chicken stock into sauce pan filled with thickened roux and whisk sitting on side

Increase heat slightly to bring it all to a simmer (watch closely, once it boils it can easily rise and boil right out of your pot, you don’t want to lose any of this deliciousness). Simmer for 10 minutes. It will thicken slightly, but not be too thick, the rest of the ingredients will helps to thicken it up.

Cream and broth soup mixture close up in pot on stove.

Meanwhile, chop your broccoli into bite size pieces and grate your carrot (one large carrot did the trick) or use shredded carrots* from the grocery store, which are a great stand-by for soups and stews!

Shredded carrots in saucepan on top of thickened soup base.

Add broccoli florets and carrots…

A spoon scooping in broccoli florets on top of shredded carrots in pot with wooden spoon

…and then the caramelized onions and stir to combine, simmer for 10-20 minutes*, covered.

adding caramelized onions back into the soup pot

When veggies are tender, using an immersion blender blend until desired smoothness, or remove 1-2 cups of the soup and pour into blender, blend until smooth, add back to the soup for a creamier soup. You are not blending the entire pot of soup, but want to leave some chunks.

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CARROT TIP | *Pre-shredded carrots from the grocery store are a bit thicker than home shredded, so be prepared to simmer your soup a bit longer, making sure your carrots are tender before blending. 

Immersion blender in 2 cup liquid measure blending some of the soup until smooth.

Next, add your grated sharp cheddar cheese, sea salt and pepper and stir to combine. Taste before adding salt, it might be salty enough.

wooden spoon stirring in shredded white cheddar cheese into prepared broccoli soup.

Finally, add nutmeg, why, the subtle nuttiness of it blends so beautifully with the cheese and milk, enhancing all of the flavors of the soup. Fresh grated is best, but ground is fine too!

adding a ¼ teaspoon of ground nutmeg to the broccoli cheese soup.

What Can I Serve with Broccoli Cheese Soup

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Yield: 4-6 servings

Broccoli Cheese Soup (Better than Panera)

Better than Panera Broccoli Cheese | www.thefreshcooky.com

Delicious, better-than-Panera Broccoli Cheese soup. Fresh broccoli, shredded carrots, rich in a flavorful beautifully balanced, cream soup base, finished with sharp cheddar cheese. Easily convert to gluten-free and/or vegetarian.

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

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, saute onion in 1 tablespoon of butter until caramelized (browned), remove from pot and reserve. About 5-7 minutes.
  2. Place remaining 1/4 cup of butter in the same saucepan, melt completely, whisk in flour, whisking constantly over medium heat until thickened and golden brown, about 2-3 minutes. Slowly, while whisking pour in half-and-half, will thicken up very quickly, keep adding until combined.
  3. Add chicken broth (start with 4 cups) and whisk well to combine, bring to simmer (it'll take 3-5 minutes, watch closely, it will rise up quickly). Add broccoli, carrots and reserved caramelized onions, cover, simmering about 15-20 minutes until tender. If too thick, add more broth, up to 2 cups.
  4. Add salt and pepper to taste. Remove 1-2 cups of the chunky mixture and blend in blender or lightly blend directly in the pot using an immersion blender. Return to soup pot and stir to combine. This will yield a smoother, creamier soup, but it's not necessary. Return to low heat and adding shredded cheese, stirring until completely melted.
  5. Serve with a green salad and some bread or rolls;, like these, beer bread, Russian Black Bread, or oatmeal rolls!

Notes

This recipe easily doubles and can be kept warm in a crockpot!

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

4-6 cups

Serving Size:

1 cup

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 621Total Fat: 43gSaturated Fat: 25gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 14gCholesterol: 128mgSodium: 6894mgCarbohydrates: 32gFiber: 5gSugar: 11gProtein: 29g

The nutritional information is estimated and may not be entirely accurate.

Did you make this recipe?

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cup of broccoli cheddar cheese soup pin for Pinterest

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Wednesday 3rd of February 2021

[…] I did not discover this soup until well into adulthood and I’m so sad about all the years that I missed out on this deliciousness. We love this recipe with a loaf of sourdough bread This is my favorite recipe. […]

Kathleen

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So love hearing this Janice! Thank you!

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It is a rainy day here on the East Coast and this sounds soooo good! May have to make a run to the grocery store.

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Thursday 5th of March 2020

The perfect meal for a rainy day!

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