Broccoli Cheddar Soup

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I’m going to argue that broccoli cheddar soup is best made to order. While many soups and stews get more complex and enticing after a day or so in the refrigerator, I don’t find that to be true when it comes to soup of the broccoli variety. Am I alone here? The good news is this version couldn’t be simpler. It’s quick to make and perfect for those times when you need something with a serious nutritional punch. The soup gets a bit of an unexpected twist by topping it with golden, crunchy, mustardy croutons. Which you can skip, but I wouldn’t.

The Recipe: A Better Version of Broccoli Cheddar Soup

One of the things you notice when you look at a lot of the broccoli cheddar soup recipes out there is the stunning amount of dairy in them. There is often so much milk, heavy cream and grated cheese that the soup is nearly white in color. I totally get it, if you’re trying to make a version styled after Panera’s Broccoli Cheddar Soup (and it seems like a lot of people are), you’ll likely go that route. The Panera Copycat Broccoli Cheddar Soup recipes tend to have a ratio of more cream/milk than broth and multiple cups of grated cheese. I’m going to argue you don’t need all that. You can make a creamy, wonderful broccoli cheese soup with a fraction of the dairy, a good blender, and a couple techniques to keep things creamy, bright, and smooth.

Key Ingredients for Good Broccoli Cheddar Soup

Broccoli: Look for deeply green, tight heads of broccoli. Avoid any heads that have yellowing florets, discoloration or seem dried out.
Vegetable Broth: Use a good-tasting vegetable broth you would drink on its own. I like to make my own broth and freeze it, or make a quick broth from vegetable bouillon cubes or my homemade bouillon powder. Another delicious option would be to use a quick miso broth. You have some options here!
Cheese: I call for freshly grated aged cheddar here. Something sharp with a lot of flavor. You can also use a gruyere if you wanted to switch things up a bit.
Mustard: The mustard is my secret weapon ingredient in this soup. It pairs perfectly with the broccoli and cheddar and pulls everything together. If you don’t have a whole grain mustard on hand, a Dijon-style mustard is 100% fine to swap.

Troubleshooting: How Do You Keep Broccoli a Vibrant Green?

Broccoli (and your broccoli soup) can turn a sad, dull, unappetizing green color when over cooked. For this soup you’ll cook it until bright and tender. Keep an eye on things is my advice on this front.

Troubleshooting: Why is My Broccoli Cheddar Soup So Grainy?

One of the most common problems cooks run into when they make broccoli cheddar soup is a gritty or grainy texture. Your soup may become grainy if the cheese or dairy curdles. With a recipe like the one that follow you shouldn’t have trouble because the cheese is added as a finishing component, off heat. But to avoid “breaking” the dairy while reheating (or with other dairy-rich soups), take it low and slow. Heating the pot over medium-low and avoiding a boil.

Broccoli Cheddar Soup: Topping Ideas

Aside from the croutons, this soup likes crusty, toasted walnut bread, or olive bread. It likes a good sheep feta in place of cheddar if that’s what you happen to have on hand, or a kiss of harissa whisked into a bit of olive oil. I know people like to pair broccoli with blue cheese. Personally, I find that to be over-powering, but if you really love blue cheese, it might be another direction to explore. A finishing drizzle of chile oil or a citrus olive oil is always welcome. If you have any other ideas, let me hear them – I make this soup often enough that I need fresh angles to work!

What to serve with Broccoli Cheddar Soup

I don’t think you need much more than big shards of the mustard croutons included in the recipe, no bread bowl needed. Lol. That said,  but you can certainly take other approaches or layer up! A poached egg would be a way to make a meal of things. Or a simple quesadilla, grilled cheese or egg salad sandwich on the side. Or, something like this TLT. 

More Broccoli Recipes & Ideas

Poke around the archives for more broccoli recipes and inspiration. There are a lot of great recipes from past years worth revisiting. I love a broccoli-centric version of this vegetable stir-fry, this double broccoli quinoa, this orzo super salad, and this is another broccoli soup with coconut milk is another favorite.

More Creamy Soups

There are also a bunch of simple, creamy, blended soups in the archives! Or browse all the soups.

Simple Cauliflower Soup
Pumpkin and Rice Soup
Simple Asparagus Soup
Simple Carrot Soup

 

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