Almost-Famous Broccoli-Cheddar Soup

Total Time:
1 hr 10 min
30 min
40 min

4 servings

  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups half-and-half
  • 3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 4 7 -inch sourdough bread boules (round loaves)
  • 4 cups broccoli florets (about 1 head)
  • 1 large carrot, diced
  • 2 1/2 cups (about 8 ounces) grated sharp white and yellow cheddar cheese, plus more for garnish

Melt the butter in a large Dutch oven or pot over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Whisk in the flour and cook until golden, 3 to 4 minutes, then gradually whisk in the half-and-half until smooth. Add the chicken broth, bay leaves and nutmeg, then season with salt and pepper and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, uncovered, until thickened, about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare the bread bowls: Using a sharp knife, cut a circle into the top of each loaf, leaving a 1-inch border all around. Remove the bread top, then hollow out the middle with a fork or your fingers, leaving a thick bread shell.

Add the broccoli and carrot to the broth mixture and simmer until tender, about 20 minutes. Discard the bay leaves. Puree the soup in batches in a blender until smooth; you'll still have flecks of carrot and broccoli. Return to the pot. (Or puree the soup in the pot with an immersion blender.)

Add the cheese to the soup and whisk over medium heat until melted. Add up to 3/4 cup water if the soup is too thick. Ladle into the bread bowls and garnish with cheese.

Photograph by Kate Mathis

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    138 Reviews
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    Too much broccoli, totally overpowered the cheese taste. One similar to Panera's has only 1/2 cup, so going to try that one.
    Fabulous! This may be my new favorite soup! I love it. Only small changes I made were to just use 4 ounces butter instead of 6, to use 1 cup half and half and 1 cup whole milk, to add crushed red pepper flakes (I always like a kick to the rue), and used 2 1/4 sharp cheddar and about 1/8 cup shredded parmesan. I shredded 2 small carrots - and used less salt than I normally would because of the parm, and about a shake of Mrs. Dash along with a fair amount of black pepper. To me it was just to die for!
    Delicious and easy. Excellent ....Will make again. Next time I will leave more of the broccoli florets whole.
    Pretty good. Never had Panera's before so I can't comment on close it is to the original. I used half chicken stock and half vegetable stock because I didn't have any carrots. Also didn't puree soup as we like it chunky. Next time I might omit nutmeg because I am not a big fan of it in savory dishes, although I don't think it overwhelmed the soup as other people have noted.
    Great recipe... I did make a few small adjustments. In the same Dutch oven I was preparing the soup I fried 4 strips of bacon and used that to sauté the onion as someone had previously suggested. I added one cup of half and half and the other cup just whole milk to down on the fat and calories (I know I'm talking about calories and adding bacon.... One other variance I would suggest you try is roasting the veggies instead of just letting them cook in the soup. This adds a significant depth to the flavor. Add the chopped bacon back when serving and you will have a winner...
    Very nice soup - the nutmeg giving it a little interesting background flavor. I love nutmeg so I put the suggested amount in....if you aren't sure - maybe just a pinch the first time and a little more the next time. Very nice soup - the carrot also adds flavor
    I love this recipe. I don't puree the broccoli, however, because I like the big chunks in there. Definitely a comforting favorite!
    Defiantly a big hit in our family, no matter the time of year! I have been making this version for awhile now and this still is a big request for my husband and kids too! Plus for a busy mom doesn't take that long to put together!
    I've made this soup a number of times since the recipe was printed in the Food Network Magazone and my husband loves it. The only thing that I do different is add A LOT more cheese at my husbands request (roughly 2 times the amount, maybe a little more). Either way, this is a definate go-to recipe for a chilly weekend meal.
    Made this several times and it is one of my family's favorite soups. Yum!
    I have tried at least a dozen different broccoli-cheddar soup recipes trying to recreate Panera's. This was definitely not it. I followed the recipe exactly to see if it would be similar. It had a totally different consistency, flavor and texture. The nutmeg was overwhelming.
    It was my first time ever making soup. I found this recipe to be very easy and simply delicious as written! I did not do the blender step---I just cut the veggies very small from the beginning---I prefer a chunkier soup. My 4 yr old twins liked it...I gave them grilled cheese sandwich to dip. It would be very easy to lighten this up, but I didn't think it was too heavy. It was delish!
    I changed quite a few things in this soup, all of which made it very good. For one, I added a whole leek instead of an onion as well as two garlic cloves and a bit of celery, and a little more flour to the roux. As well, I added two carrots and some extra broccoli and didn't emulsify the soup but left it chunky. As well, some celery seed and thyme did beautifully for the broth. I also used only 2/3s the amount of cheese, but used extra sharp cheddar.  
    Because there is so much creaminess to this soup, you'll need a bit more salt than the recipe makes it sound like, as well as some pepper. All that aside, the soup is very good and hearty, perfect for a cold autumn day.
    This soup is very rich. It's kind of low on the flavor side so I added extra spices like cinnamon and ground cloves and it came out great. Also I skipped the bay leaves because I used my last few for a sweet potato bisque. Love this soup though!!
    The basic recipe is good but it needed some additional flavor so I added some fresh thyme and chopped button mushrooms (at the very end for additional interest.
    One of the better recipes for Broccoli Cheddar soup, simple, yet delicious. I was thinking of adding a clove or two of garlic, but though better of it, as it really doesn't need it! Thank you : 
    Chase in Central Florida
    Very good soup. I used frozen brocolli and it was only two cups. But it still worked out. Soup is very thick and creamy.
    I LOVE this recipe! However, I try to eat healthy and this recipe can be full of unwanted calories. I make this with the following changes which saves some calories and it is STILL rich tasting! First, I dice and cook 6 slices of turkey bacon in the dutch oven. Then I remove the bacon, leaving only some of the grease. The bacon is optional but adds A LOT of flavor. I melt 4 tbsp of butter instead of 6 to saute the onion. I use 2 1/2 cups of 2% milk instead of cream but I add 2 cans of chicken broth before the milk. Then I use whole wheat flour instead of white. Lastly, I use 6+ cups finely chopped broccoli and cauliflower and add corn from 2 ears of corn that had been previously grilled on the BBQ along with the cooked bacon back at the end of cooking. I do not puree. The extra milk, broth and veggies make a HUGE batch. I also use this soup as an "alfredo" type sauce over whole grain pasta or brown rice.
    This was so good! It was a breeze to make. I didn't do the bread bowls, sliced a sour baguette instead. If I was making for a dinner party, I would definitely do the bread bowl thing for presentation! Not exactly a "light" dish, but for an occasional craving- awesome! I will probably make again and keep warm in a crock pot as a dip with bread and veggies!
    Overall an awesome recipe didn't use the bowls though my family likes extra cheese so we put in a little extra very good
    I have been using this recipe for 28 years, as told to me by a Scottish cook. The only variation is that I put toasted French bread, covered with more Scottish cheddar and black pepper on top. It really is a tasty soup.
    My boyfriend and I LOVED this recipe! However, instead of blending the veggies, I chopped them up but left them a little on the bigger side so that the soup would be chunkier. We also just used sharp cheddar cheese and left out the bread bowls. Either way, I highly recommend this recipe!
    Ok I made this last night for my mother and I and wow this was phenomenal. I used 2 crowns of broccoli and New York Extra Sharp White Cheddar with mild yellow and what a great combo. It was super easy to make...didn't have to do much. I was able to walk away while it simmered. My grocery store didn't have sourdough boules, but I was able to find Italian boules but they were smaller which was perfect because it was plenty. Will def. make this again!
    Really good!!! Rich and creamy.
    This is a great recipe - I've made it several times, exactly as called for. This last time I think the broccoli was a little underdone after cooking 24 minutes - maybe if I'd kept it at a higher simmer. I think I used more cheese the first time too - probably a packed 2 1/2 cups vs. 8 oz. exactly. I serve it with french bread and butter on the side rather than in a bread bowl. Also, I think the nutmeg amount is great - not too much. Yummy!
    My family LOVED this soup. The only thing I changed is that I grated the carrot and chopped the broccoli for faster cooking time. Turned out GREAT! My family even loved it before I added the cheese at the end. This definatly a keeper!
    So easy & So delicious! I didn't have a bay leaf and went without and just finely chopped the broccoli & carrot because we like the texture. I added a little more cheese - maybe 3 cups and the nutmeg adds a good hint of flavor - don't add too much though! Can't wait to taste it with the bay leaves the nest time. Turned out great! Kids loved it! This is a keeper!
    Very good recipe although it was a bit thick from the get go. Added all ingredients as recommended but did not purée the vegetables making for a hardy version of this soup. Made my own chicken stock as well which I thanked help mask the overwhelming nutmeg a bit.
    would eliminate the nutmeg. it was overwhelming ,otherwise I liked the soup
    My daughter and I wandered through the supermarket trying to.decide what to make for dinner....I had her google broccoli soup because we had a ton of fresh summer broccoli that we froze....this recipe was the first one she found and we made this first time ever making a cream soup and people are raving about it....we made the bread boules as well....we ommitted the nutmeg because I didn't think cheese and nutmeg sounded like it would not go well....i grated the carrot rather than chopped, added finely chopped celery and added minced garlic, some fresh herbs and we used extra sharp white and cheddar cheeses....i accidentally used heavy cream instead of half and was time I will use the half and half....i might add some small flowerettes and stems of broccoli but I love he puree idea....AWESOME soup.....
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