It’s about time you met this broccoli cheddar soup recipe. It’s rich and indulgent, but not so much that it weighs me down.
My husband declared it the best he’s ever had, and started throwing out one-liners in between spoonfuls:
- “It’s the velvet of the soup world.”
- “All the sin without any of the guilt.”
- “This may be the universe’s best delivery system for broccoli.”
- “It’s like a warm blanket after being outside on a long winter day.”
I tried to make a great broccoli soup six months ago. I gave up after several failed attempts, and recently tried again after discovering Sarah Jampel’s method in Bon Appétit. Thank you for showing me the way, Sarah.
I have high standards for broccoli cheese soup. I wanted soup that met the following qualifications:
- Sufficiently green and full of fresh flavor
- Luxuriously smooth but with some texture from tender florets
- Preferably free of flour and heavy cream
I wanted all that, and I didn’t want to feel like I was eating a bowl of queso (don’t get me wrong, sometimes that’s exactly what I want to eat). This recipe checks all the boxes!
Watch How to Make Broccoli Cheese Soup
Perhaps the coolest feature of this soup is that it makes use of the broccoli stems that we usually toss. Less waste, more nutrients, can’t lose.
In fact, I feel good after I eat this soup, similar to how I feel after enjoying a big kale salad. Cruciferous veggies work miracles, I tell you, and did you know that broccoli contains loads of vitamin C? We could all use some extra right now.
Fresh & Healthy Broccoli Cheese Soup Ingredients
This flavorful soup is made without heavy cream, milk or flour—or even vegetable broth. You’ll just need a few basic ingredients to make it:
- Butter contributes to the irresistible flavor and silky texture. Technically, you could replace it with two tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil, but I like butter better here.
- Onion and garlic form a savory base layer. Since we’re blending them all up later, we don’t need to chop them finely. In fact, you can just smash the garlic with the side of your chef’s knife (be careful), peel off the skin and throw it into the pot. So easy!
- Russet potato, peeled and cooked until tender, lends a luxuriously creamy texture once blended. This is a trick I’ve used in my vegan mac and cheese and vegan queso recipes—it really works.
- Lots of broccoli, of course. The stems contribute body and extra broccoli flavor. We’ll purée half of the broccoli florets, and cook the rest in the pot for texture.
- Water brings it all together. I’ve been experimenting with using water instead of vegetable broth in soups lately, and so far I’ve been impressed. Store-bought vegetable broths can contribute unwanted color, off-putting flavors and excess salt. Water has none of these issues. Plus, it saves you a few bucks.
- Sharp cheddar cheese offers maximal cheddar flavor and a creamy texture. You can start with four ounces (half of a block) and add more to suit your preferences. Hand-grated cheese is best, since pre-shredded cheeses are coated in powders that can cause the cheese to glop together once melted. Buy white cheddar if you can. Yellow cheddar might turn this soup an unfortunate color, but I haven’t tried to be sure.
This soup is vegetarian and gluten free as written. You can even make it dairy free/vegan with substitutions (really!). See the recipe notes for details.
Equipment Notes & Suggestions
This section contains affiliate links, which means I might earn a small commission if you place an order through them (at no cost to you).
This recipe yields a substantial amount of soup (around 10 cups). If you are serving two people or don’t want a lot of leftovers, you could easily cut the ingredients in half. Here’s what you’ll need to make it:
- I swear that soups always taste better when they’re cooked in a Dutch oven. I used my 5.5-quart Le Creuset for this recipe. A large, heavy-bottomed soup pot will also work well.
- You’ll need a lid for the pot. In a pinch, you could use a metal baking sheet.
- If you are making the full batch, you’ll need to blend it in batches in your stand blender. I could not blend the full batch at once in my Vitamix. Transfer the blended portion to a heat-proof pitcher or container as you blend the rest, then combine it all in the soup pot.
- Or, you could use an immersion blender. The trouble with immersion blenders is that they never yield soup as creamy as you could accomplish in your stand blender. I wish it weren’t true!
Safety note: Never fill a stand blender past the maximum fill line, or you could end up with a giant mess (and a hot one, if you’re making soup). You need to know how your blender works. My lid’s design allows for steam to escape, but if yours doesn’t, you’ll want to remove the center piece so the contents don’t build pressure as they blend. Cover the hole with a tea towel, but don’t place your hand over it because the steam is hot.
What to Serve with Broccoli Soup
This soup is a light meal on its own, or would make a proper meal with a sandwich or crisp salad. Here are a few options that are deliberately not very cheesy, for the sake of balance.
- Chickpea Salad with Carrots and Dill or French Carrot Salad
- Green Goddess Hummus Sandwich or Hummus Quesadillas
- Honey Mustard Brussels Sprout Slaw or Simple Seedy Slaw
Craving more creamy soups?
- Roasted Butternut Squash Soup
- Roasted Carrot Soup
- Roasted Cauliflower Soup
- Roasted Pumpkin Soup
- Lightened-Up Tomato Soup
Please let me know how your soup turns out in the comments! I love hearing from you.
Broccoli Cheese Soup
- Prep Time: 15 minutes
- Cook Time: 50 minutes
- Total Time: 1 hour 5 minutes
- Yield: 6 bowls 1x
- Category: Soup
- Method: Blended
- Cuisine: American
This broccoli cheddar soup recipe is so satisfying! It’s loaded with fresh broccoli, and creamy thanks to a potato and cheddar cheese (no cream, no flour!). Recipe yields about 10 cups (quite a bit) and is easily halved.
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 medium yellow onions, coarsely chopped
- 6 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
- ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes (reduce or omit if sensitive to spice)
- 1 ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt, divided, to taste
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 2 pounds broccoli with stalks (3 large or 4 medium)
- 1 large (about 12 ounces) russet potato, peeled and cut into 1 to 2-inch chunks
- 6 cups water
- 4 to 8 ounces grated sharp cheddar cheese, depending on your mood
- Thinly sliced chives or green onions, for garnish (optional)
- Melt the butter in a large Dutch oven or soup pot over medium-low heat. Add the onion, garlic, red pepper flakes, ¼ teaspoon of the salt, and about 10 twists of black pepper.
- Stir to combine, then cover the pot and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions have softened and are just starting to turn golden, about 8 to 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, slice off and discard the rough bottom ends of broccoli stalks. Use a vegetable peeler to peel off the tough outer skin on the stalks, then discard those bits. Slice the stalks off and cut them into pieces about 1 to 2-inches big. Set aside.
- Working with the broccoli tops now, cut as closely to the base of the florets as you can. Slice any remaining stalks into chunks to match to the rest. Reserve the broccoli florets—we’ll use them in a bit.
- Add the chunks of broccoli stalk and potato to the pot and stir. Pour in 6 cups water and the remaining 1 teaspoon salt. Raise the heat to high and bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low and cover the pot.
- Simmer until the broccoli stalks and potatoes are tender throughout and easily split apart when pierced with a fork, about 20-25 minutes. Meanwhile, chop the reserved florets into small pieces (I chop them all in one direction, then turn the cutting board and chop again).
- Once the potato and stalks are tender, add half of the florets to pot, stir, cover, and cook until they’re bright green, about 3 to 5 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat. Working in a couple of batches (never fill your blender past the maximum fill line or it could explode!), carefully transfer several cups of the mixture—both the liquid and solids—to your stand blender. Blend until completely smooth, then transfer the mixture to a heat-proof vessel temporarily as you blend the rest. Alternatively, use an immersion blender (it just won’t be as lusciously creamy). Return the purée to the pot.
- Return the pot to medium heat and add the remaining florets. Cover the pot and cook until they’re bright green and easily pierced through by a fork, another 4 to 7 minutes. Add almost all 4 ounces of the grated cheddar cheese (reserve a small handful for garnish) and stir until smooth. Carefully taste (it’s hot) and stir in more cheese if you’d like more indulgent flavor/creamy texture, more salt for more overall flavor, and/or more black pepper for kick.
- Divide the soup into bowls and top with a sprinkle of cheese, plus some thinly sliced chives and/or red pepper flakes, if desired. Leftover soup keeps well in the refrigerator for up to 4 days (though the color darkens a bit with time). I haven’t tried freezing this soup but suspect it will work fine—please let us know in the comments if you do.
Recipe adapted from Bon Appétit’s broccoli cheddar soup by Sarah Jampel.
Make it dairy free/vegan: Replace the butter with 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil. When blending the soup, add ½ cup raw cashews (soaked for 4 hours if not using a high-powered blender, such as a Vitamix, then rinsed and drained), 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast, 1 teaspoon lemon juice, ½ teaspoon apple cider vinegar, and a scant ¼ teaspoon Dijon mustard. Omit the cheese.
This is a fantastic recipe! I love a soup that is rich and creamy without adding a bunch of 1/2 and 1/2 or whipping cream. No waste either when you use the broccoli stems! Thanks for this recipe!
You’re welcome, Mary!
Made this and it was delicious! Can it be frozen or does that affect the texture?
Hi Hannah, I don’t find soups with dairy freeze the best all the time. If you try it, let me know what you think!
I frozen it a month ago in a couple different containers. It was great each time I unfreeze. Super yummy! I added carrots to tonight’s batch.
Fabulous easy recipe, used up some slightly yellowing broccoli and it turned out delicious. Thanks!
You’re welcome, Daphne!
I’ve made this recipe a couple of times and loved it! I have a friend who is not just gluten free like me, but also diary AND nut free. If I make the soup following the dairy free guidelines, can I just use the nutritional yeast and lemon juice and omit the cashews? Will it still turn out ok?
Hi Jen, I haven’t tried it without the cashews. You could try my Cream of Broccoli Soup. That may work as well.
Thanks for letting me know!
Would it be possible to put ingredients in a soup maker ?
I haven’t tried one, so I’m not sure!
Tried the Broccoli Cheese soup, I had never had it before but had heard good things. Trying to eat more veggies I made this soup, and it was fantastic! Really creamy and filling. Thanks!
You’re welcome, Tanis! I’m glad you enjoyed it.
Thank you for this recipe! It is hands down the best broccoli soup recipe that I have tried! It is a family favorite by now and our go to recipe whenever we end up with extra broccolis :)
PS: ginger works pretty good as well (instead of or in addition to garlic).
Thank you, Chinmay! I’m glad you were able to enjoy it with some adjustments too.
This soup is AMAZING! A total hit for my entire family! Thank you so much!!!
You’re welcome, Jennifer!
Wow this is a nice easy recipe and tastes great
I’m glad you enjoyed it, Lena! I appreciate your review.
Added some chicken bouillon to the water… a GREAT recipe, thanks! I was able to just use a bag of pre cut broccoli, found a 2 pound bag, an easy choice :-)
I’d love to try this but I am allergic to white potatoes any substitution ideas for me? I can eat sweet potatoes which I like and rutabaga (flavor not my favorite) but I am wondering what might make a good functional replacement for what the potato does. Thanks!
Hi Kathy, I do find it works best with potatoes. You could try omitting it. Let me know how it goes. Sorry I don’t have a better solution for you!
Thanks Kate! I added 10 oz sweet potato instead. Although it doesn’t add the same kind of creaminess as a russet would, I think it was better to have it for balance. My family loves broccoli, so I am very happy to have a recipe that is so creamy and good for us and doesn’t sit like a brick in our stomachs! (Our teen likes to make a Panera knockoff, this is so much better!)
Loving your cookbook, and your roasted cauli soup is our favorite soup in the universe! Thanks for making it easier to up the healthiness of our dinners with sooooo much flavor!
Riced cauliflower works pretty well.h
Try using a zucchini or some cauliflower instead of the potato – I used one medium zucchini and it turned out thick and creamy. Also replaced the water with chicken stock – yum.
Maybe parsnip…Haven’t tried it but it might add some thickening without adding a strong flavor.
Fantastic recipe. A regular now in our houseold.
Oh, my heck! i so agree with your husband, and am rhapsodizing this soup right now. Thank you for such a wonderful recipe. it’s truly delightful!
Wonderful recipe, thanks Kate! I added a bit of ground coriander after simmering the onions and that worked well. Will definitely make this again.
You’re welcome, Arvid! I appreciate your review.
Simple delicious soup, I cut back on the cheese & butter but still delicious, thanks for the recipe, I hate flour as a thickener in soup, this is perfect x
First time ever making broccoli cheese soup and I was surprised how much flavor this soup had! I didn’t have any potatoes on hand so I just chopped up some baby carrots and used those instead. I had a lot of fun making this soup and can’t wait to enjoy this more frequently with my family.
I’m glad you were able to enjoy it, Chidera!
This soup is delicious. Perfectly salted. I don’t even add cheese. The garlic makes it!
I’m glad to hear you loved it, Shaz!
I am now making this soup for the 2nd time for my daughter in law who has just had gastric sleeve surgery this week. She sent me the recipe to try, my trial run was a total winner with my husband, he was impressed!! It freezes amazingly as well!
I hope she has a speedy recovery! I’m glad this soup was just what was needed, Wendy.
I have had broccoli-cheese soup before but never made it myself. This recipe makes an absolutely excellent soup! Sooo creamy! Delicious! My husband loved it and he doesn’t like broccoli to begin with.One of my sons had it and he couldn’t stop saying how good it was! This recipee is a keeper. Thank you!
Hooray! I’m glad you loved it, Virginia.
Made this last night (as i had a lot if broccoli). My non-soup loving family all loved it! This is a keeper. Love ypur philosophy if keeping it to very simple ingredients. (I did put in half a cup of actual frozen chicken stock i had on hand, for extra nutition). We have a vegan in the family, and it was easy to veganise one pot … thank you for the vegan conversion tips. The vegan flavourings are very nice. I love that there is no milk and flour combo in here. And the addition of the whole florets at the end gives some structure. I served with croutons which was great (sour dough bread cubes fried in garlic infused olive oil)
Thank you for this recipe. A great winter meal for our family.
That’s great, Carol! I appreciate your review.
Some said it’s like eating queso and they are spot on… this recipe is incredible!! It’s perfect to pair with a toasted sandwich!! I cant get over how good this was and even my husband who hates vegetables loved it.
Great to hear, Grace! I appreciate your review.
Wonderful. I used stock instead of water and so didn’t need to use as much salt. Wonderfully creamy and tasty – thank you x
So, I’ve made this a few times now, sometimes with more broccoli, more cheese, different cheese. It’s always my favorite!!!
Great to hear, Connie! I appreciate your review.
Just made this for the first time today, accidentally bought too much broccoli and have come down with tonsillitis, best meal I’ve had in days and by far the easiest and one of the tastiest soups I’ve had. My housemates absolutely loved it! Rich and creamy and just all around an amazing soup! Thanks so much for sharing your recipe!
Just pulled a jar of this that I made back in January out of the freezer and reheated it in the microwave before adding the cheese — so good on a cool, overcast day like today! To make it freezer-friendly, I stopped before the addition of cheese in step 8. With some vigorous mixing, it was just as good as the day it was made. Excellent recipe, and definitely a keeper — thank you!
I burned my mouth on it a little, but from what I can tell, very good! I think the only issue was that I didn’t cook the second addition of broccoli florets quite long enough, so they were a little crunchy. Hopefully they’ll soften up a bit in the fridge. I also added a can of cannelini beans, because why not. Thanks for the recipe!
This recipe is not only really great, it’s also very adaptable and forgiving. I will definitely make it again.
I halved the recipe because who needs 10 cups of broccoli soup. Even so, I still ended up with about 7 cups.
I didn’t have a russet and used 6oz of unpeeled baby gold potatoes.
I used all florets because I had a big Costco bag of them and needed to use them up. I didn’t chop small, just put them in with the potatoes to cook for 25 minutes or so, and pureed with an immersion blender.
I ended up using the higher amount of a good sharp English cheddar cheese (4 oz for a half recipe) to get the flavor profile that I liked.
I ended up with 3 containers of soup leftover. I’ll freeze a couple of them for later. It would be really good with garlic croutons too.
Thank you for sharing how you made it, KT! I appreciate your review.
Delish ! My dairy addicted wife pronounced it delightful. My version took way too long as I used frozen broccoli and planned my work poorly. It is somewhat forgiving so supper was excellent. Thanks for this dish
I’m glad this one was a hit, John! I appreciate your review.
Lovely soup! I added a generous handful of fresh spinach and a ripe avocado to enhance the greenness and creaminess. It was delicious!
Is it possible to make this in a crock pot and where would I look for this Dutch oven as I have never seen or used one?
I find I get the best flavor from my dutch oven.
I added 3 carrots, as my wife and I like them and we had a bumper crop this time – so, carrots added to EVERYTHING! However, it didn’t detract at all from the broccoli flavour. The butter alone was a very good suggestion. Really lovely, tasty soup. I’ll be doing it again. Thank you SO much. PS: I will be freezing 5 containers of the soup (yes, I made a big pot of it!). I freeze all my bulk soup dishes and have had no problems with them, dairy or not.
Haven’t tried this yet, but Kate, I wanted you to know — I went looking for a broccoli cheddar soup recipe to help use up the overabundance of cheese in my fridge, and as soon as I saw your site on my google search, I went “oh good! I love her stuff!” and I knew my search was done. Thanks for the awesome work you do. :)
This will be a staple in our house!! Delicious!! I added extra cheese and more salt and pepper. I had fresh broccoli, actually had to wait for them to bring it in from the field. I’ll buy more this week.
My daughter loves the Panera Broccoli and Cheddar soup. She is picky but gave this a hearty 2 thumbs up! : )
Love this soup. Made it several times. I want to make it today but only have Costco frozen broccoli. Will that work? and do I still remove outer skin from stems?
Hi, you can try it. Let me know what you think!
This looks amazing! I’m excited to try it. Does anyone have a comment regarding using Yukon Gold potatoes instead of Russet potatoes?
Delicious and a great way to use up some slightly yellowing broccoli.
Can I substitute frozen broccoli for fresh?
Frozen, once thawed, should work. Watch the cooking time as it may get done quicker. Let me know what you think!
Enjoyed this! Didn’t miss the cream at all. Used 6 ounces of cheese. Didn’t have the full amount of broccoli so I cut back on the water.
Thank you for sharing how you made it, Amanda.
I substitute one cup of the water with whole milk for a creamy soup. You could use cream if you were really decadent.
I thought this recipe would be good to try but would it be ok to use either vegtable or chicken broth instead of water and if so would I use the same amount of cups? I’m so used to using broth in everything that I would be afraid the soup would have less taste with just water..
Hi Stephanie, I find this has great flavor. But if you prefer to try with broth, that works too.
This is really good. I have also made it with frozen broccoli and it turned out well. I add some grated carrots for health benefits. I freeze a couple of containers when I make a double batch and it tasted fine to me. Thank you for the healthy recipe!
You’re welcome, Deb! I appreciate your review.
Absolutely amazing broccoli & cheddar soup.
And yes it freezes beautifully.
I added a handful of spinach to the mix just before I blended it – it deepens the colour. 2nd time I’ve made it this month.
Love it x
I’m happy you loved it, Janet! Thank you for your review.
This recipe sounds good. I’m making it now. I’ll let you know my comments as soon as I’ve tasted it. Thanks again.
Great to hear, Nancy!
I just made this to relax on a chilly Sunday. My husband declared it to be his favorite soup I’ve ever made! Even my very picky kiddo ate his whole bowl. Creamy, hearty, savory, flavorful, nutritious, and delicious— everything you could want in a soup!! Thank you!
Great to hear, Janelle! I appreciate your review.
I made this with an immersion blender and the texture was just ok, but then I put it in a quart mason jar and gave it an extra blend and it was divine! The texture was velvety, airy, and luscious and the flavor was so much yummier. Next time I’ll transfer it to mason jars rather than try to blend it in the pot… and there will absolutely be a next time!
Great idea! Thank you for sharing, Cait. I’m glad you enjoyed it.
SOOO good – really!! It’s impossible to describe the beautiful smooth texture and mouth feel of this soup. Unbelievable. Quite a while ago, I tried this with an immersion blender and it was a fail. But my new Versa blender killed it. And I was able to change up proportions since I didn’t have quite that much broccoli on hand. You will not be disappointed.
Great to hear, Dianne!
This soup is a nutrition powerhouse and tastes amazing. The 1st time I made it, I was lazy about prepping the stems and skipped it with so-so results. The 2nd time I made the soup, I was careful to prep all the stems (peel, chop) and I understood the recipe better once I saw how the stewed stems & potato along with the butter-sautéed onions and 1/2 the florets create such a full bodied creamy base after blending. I used the Costco English Cheddar for the cheese. The resulting soup is a big improvement on the standard broccoli cheddar soup. It’s so rich and bursting with cheesy flavor without the gut-glut of too much dairy. My husband raves about it. Great leftovers too, as it gets better in the frig. Fantastic recipe, thanks Kate.
Thank you for sharing, Carlotta! I appreciate your review.
I made it as per your instructions and it’s blooming lovely. We had some for lunch and I’ve jarred the rest to have at a later date. I will definitely make this again. THANK YOU XX
Great to hear! I’m glad you loved it.
WOWEE!!! Five stars for sure! Made half of recipe and the flavour was out of this world! Love the kick the chili peppers give it and also gave it a few more twists of fresh ground pepper. Can not believe there is no cream or milk in it. This will become a staple in my house. Husband thoroughly enjoyed how rich the flavour was. So easy and used a nice sharp old cheddar, white cheese as suggested….AMAZING! Just wondering could you do the same, only use cauliflower? Thank you for such an excellent recipe!
I’m excited you loved it, Paddy! Thank you for sharing.
Soup was great, I didn’t use the butter. I added chicken bullion and seasoned salt. Topped with sharp cheddar cheese. Yummmmm
I’m happy you enjoyed it, Sher! Thank you for your review.