Broccoli Cheddar Soup, an easy Panera copycat homemade soup recipe that is quick to make! The best on a cold day, or anytime you’re craving some comfort food.
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Please tell me my kids aren’t the only ones who eat a crazy amount of Broccoli Cheddar Soup from Panera? One of their favorites for sure! This easy copycat soup recipe is rich and creamy and has both broccoli and carrots. A quick and easy lunch or dinner, it also makes a great make-ahead recipe to have in the fridge for the week.
We are big Panera fans here so much, in fact, I have various other Panera copycat recipes including the Kitchen Sink Cookies, White Cheddar Mac and Cheese, Pumpkin Muffins, and Cranberry Orange Muffins.
So just going to put this out there… I actually prefer other soups at Panera. BUT since my kids love it so much, I couldn’t help but come up with a tasty from-scratch version to make at home when we can’t get to a Panera.
Is it exactly like their soup? Well, it’s close. Obviously, I don’t have their exact recipe, but again, it’s close.
You can serve this rich homemade soup in a bowl, a cup, or could even make your own bread bowl. It’s great as-is or add your favorite other vegetables like chopped potato, cauliflower, bell peppers, celery, mushrooms, or corn. Rice or potatoes would be good additions or even chopped up precooked chicken, ham, or bacon.
Could also add a lot of different herbs and spices as well such as nutmeg, garlic, or your favorite spice blend.
To start I looked on the Panera website and looked at the list of ingredients:
Milk, Chicken Stock (Chicken Base [Chicken Meat Including Chicken Juices, Salt, Chicken Fat, Yeast Extract, Sugar, Natural Flavor, Potato Flour, Carrot Powder, Turmeric]), Water, Broccoli, Pasteurized Process Cheddar Cheese (Cheddar Cheese [Pasteurized Milk, Cheese Culture, Salt, Enzymes], Whey, Whey Protein Concentrate, Skim Milk, Sodium Citrate, Salt, Milkfat, Lactic Acid, Oleoresin Paprika [For Color], Annatto [For Color]), Heavy Cream, Carrots, Corn Starch, Contains 2% or less of: Onions, Seasoning (Wheat Flour, Salt, Spice), Butter (Cream, Salt), Dijon Mustard (Water, Mustard Seed, Vinegar, Salt, Spices), Hot Pepper Sauce (Distilled Vinegar, Red Pepper, Salt) and Nisin Preparation.
I tried to streamline some of the ingredients such as using half & half instead of the milk and heavy cream both listed in the ingredients.
Also noticed the only cheese listed was “Pasteurized Process Cheddar Cheese”, so thought something like Velveeta (original or cheddar) would be close rather than a block of cheddar cheese.
Of course, the official ingredients from Panera could change in the future or they might have been different in the past. I just went off of what was on the website today.
(Full printable recipe card is at bottom of post.)
Broccoli Cheddar Soup Ingredients
- Chicken broth
- Broccoli, fresh
- Carrots, fresh
- Black pepper
- Half & half
- Cheddar Velveeta (or original)
- Dijon mustard
- Hot sauce
You can add more veggies or even double the amount of broccoli and carrots. So many add-in possibilities too like I mentioned above to change it up a bit.
How to Make Broccoli Cheddar Soup
- MELT BUTTER. Place butter in large pot and place over medium-high heat.
- COOK ONION. Add onion, cook for about 3-5 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until translucent and soft.
- COOK VEGGIES. Add 1 3/4 cup chicken broth (reserve remaining 1/4 cup), broccoli, carrots, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil, then simmer about 10-15 or until vegetables are soft.
- MELT CHEESE. Stir in half & half and bring to a simmer. Stir in Velveeta and continue to stir until melted and smooth. Stir in mustard and hot sauce.
- PREPARE CORNSTARCH. Meanwhile, in small bowl, whisk together remaining 1/4 cup of chicken broth and cornstarch.
- THICKEN SOUP. Slowly stir in cornstarch and broth mixture into the soup, continue to stir, and bring to a boil until thickened. Add more cornstarch and broth (or water) to thicken more if desired, then serve.
- Serve this soup hot in a bowl or cup for a quick meal.
- You can also hollow out a bread boule and make your own bread bowl version of this Broccoli Cheddar Soup. Or even a rounded dinner or sandwich roll would work for a smaller version.
- Serve with some crackers (Maybe these Almond Flour Crackers) or croutons, or some bread or biscuits (like this Garlic Cheddar Drop Biscuits) on the side.
Quick Tips for Best Results
- Be sure to whisk in your cornstarch slowly and bring the soup to a boil for the cornstarch to thicken the soup.
- If the soup is not thick enough for you, add a little more cornstarch/broth (or water). Likewise, if the soup is too thick, you can add a little more broth, water, or even beer would be delicious (if not serving to kids of course…).
- Be sure to cook the broccoli and carrots until soft before adding the other ingredients. You can also add more or less broccoli and carrots to your personal preference. I personally would double them, but I like veggies. haha!
- So many mix-in options for this soup as well. You could add more vegetables, meats, and your favorite herbs and spices.
Broccoli Cheddar Soup FAQ
How should I store the soup?
Store any leftover soup covered in the refrigerator.
Can I freeze the soup?
I haven’t tried it, but think the consistency will be off when defrosted because of all the dairy.
How long will the soup last?
It should last at least a few days in the fridge.
Instead of carrots and broccoli, use your favorite vegetables. You can try using a different type of cheese but results may vary.
Can I use low-fat ingredients?
You can try using a low-fat milk and cheese, but the soup might not be as thick and smooth.
What else can I add to this recipe?
You can add other vegetables, precooked meat, and your favorite herbs and spices.
Can I make this vegan/vegetarian/low carb/gluten-free?
Here are some suggestions, but I can’t guarantee results. Be sure as always to check particular brands and ingredients if you’re following a specific diet or have diet restrictions or allergies.
Vegan – This would be a tough one to make vegan. You can try a vegetable broth, milk substitute, and cheese substitute, but not sure how well the cheese would melt. Not an easy recipe to make vegan.
Vegetarian – Substitute vegetable broth for the chicken broth.
Low-Carb – It should be fairly low carb and there really aren’t any substitutes you could make that I can think of.
Gluten-Free – All ingredients are gluten-free but check individual brands of products.
Other Soup Recipes You May Enjoy
- Chicken Tortilla Soup (Snappy Gourmet) – One of my favorites! Full of flavor and freezes well.
- Cream of Brussels Sprout Soup (Snappy Gourmet) – Delicious homemade soup full of Brussels sprouts.
- Lemon Tomato Soup (Life and Lemons) – Can be served hot or cold, yum!
- Crab Soup (Pip and Ebby) – Only 5 ingredients and ready than less than 30 minutes.
Hope you enjoy this simple homemade Panera Copycat Broccoli Cheddar Soup. Tell me in the comments what other veggies you added!
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Broccoli Cheddar Soup (Panera Copycat)
- 1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup onion minced
- 2 cups chicken broth divided
- 1 1/2 cups fresh broccoli finely chopped
- 1/2 cup carrots cut into short thin matchsticks
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 2 cups half & half
- 16 ounces Velveeta (block of Velveeta Cheddar if you can find, or original), cut into small cubes or shred
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- dash hot sauce
- 2 Tablespoons cornstarch (or 3 Tablespoons for thicker soup)
- Place butter in large pot and place over medium-high heat.
- Add onion, cook for about 3-5 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until translucent and soft.
- Add 1 3/4 cup chicken broth (reserve remaining 1/4 cup), broccoli, carrots, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil, then simmer about 10-15 or until vegetables are soft.
- Stir in half & half and bring to a simmer. Stir in Velveeta and continue to stir until melted and smooth. Stir in mustard and hot sauce.
- Meanwhile, in small bowl, whisk together remaining 1/4 cup of chicken broth and cornstarch.
- Slowly stir in cornstarch and broth mixture into the soup, continue to stir, and bring to a boil until thickened. Add more cornstarch and broth (or water) to thicken more if desired, then serve.