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I’ve mastered this homemade Copycat Panera Broccoli Cheddar Soup and I am beyond thrilled to share it with you!
It was so fun testing this recipe to make certain I created a perfect replica Broccoli Cheddar Soup from Panera. Each spoonful is filled with comfort…the creamy, cheddar cheese, perfectly cooked broccoli and matchstick carrots all wrapped up in a creamy broth will totally make you want to grab seconds!
This soup is a satisfying lunch or easy weeknight meal and when you serve it up in the a crusty, bread bowl you’ll think it’s better than the original!
While I was drinking my coffee from my ‘sweater weather’ coffee cup I realized that there is nothing better about cooler weather than changing into comfy clothes at the end of the day and settling in for a comforting, cozy, bowl of Broccoli Cheddar Soup. So for the sake of comfort I had to make my Copycat Panera Broccoli Cheddar Soup. This recipe starts with the smell of aromatic vegetables sweating away over a gentle heat to draw out their flavors. Then, add in the rich, creamy, cheese sauce that has just a hint of heat from hot sauce and you will have a full flavored fall-favorite soup. Make it today and get cozy!
You’ll love this Copycat Panera Broccoli Cheddar Soup because…
- It’s fast and easy to make. (big win in my book!)
- Save money by making this Copycat Panera Broccoli Cheddar Soup at home and cozy up.
- It takes less time to make than it does to get everyone piled into the car to go out for dinner.
- Who doesn’t love the great combo of broccoli and creamy cheddar cheese?
- Serve this up vegetarian style by subbing out the chicken broth for vegetable broth.
- Fast Food meets up with homemade freshness with my Copycat Panera Broccoli Cheddar Soup.
- Carrots: if you’ve had the broccoli cheddar soup from Panera before you know they’re not diced but they’re julienned into about a 1/8th inch size or even smaller. You can use bagged matchstick carrots in a pinch!
- Broccoli: Chop up the stems and then dice the florets into tiny pieces but be sure to leave a few large chunks of broccoli florets too. You know, just how Panera does it!
- Garlic: I always love using fresh garlic (especially in soups) to release flavors and oils which add full flavor to the soup.
- Chicken broth: Is a staple in every kitchen for making soups, stews and sauces. Use low sodium or even chicken bone broth if you prefer.
- Half and half: This helps to thickens the soup and adds a luscious texture to the creamy cheese sauce. You can also use whole milk if you don’t have half & half.
- Hot sauce (like Tabasco): add your favorite hot sauce for subtle, spicy heat.
- Grey Poupon Dijon mustard: Dijon mustard adds a savory richness to your soup, and just the right finishing notes.
- Granulated sugar: adding a little sugar helps bring out this soups best flavors.
- Paprika: Intensifies the color of this rich, creamy broccoli cheddar soup. If you want to use smoked paprika, just know it will add a smokey flavor, and additional depth to your soup.
- Turmeric: turmeric also adds to the rich color of the soup plus it anti-inflammatory properties make it a great superfood.
- Sharp cheddar, freshly shredded: Because sharp cheddar cheese is flavorful, is full of moisture, and has a lower melting point it makes a great cheese for this creamy full-bodied soup.
- Velveeta: The key factor with Velveeta is that it melts evenly and adds to the rich color and creamy texture of the soup.
- Cornstarch: Using a cornstarch slurry is the finishing touch to thicken your soup to the perfect consistency.
Step by Step Directions for Copycat Panera Broccoli Cheddar Soup
- Heat olive oil in a large Dutch oven on medium-low heat.
- Add carrots, onions, broccoli and cook on medium-low to sweat the veggie. This will take a little while, ~12-14 minutes. Add the kosher salt about half way through the sweating process.
- Add the garlic and stir until fragrant ~1 minute.
- Add the broth, cream, hot sauce, mustard, sugar, paprika and turmeric. Stir. Turn the heat up to medium-high.
- Add in both cheeses. Stir until melted. Bring to a boil then turn heat back down to a simmer. (Be sure to stir frequently so cheese doesn’t stick to the bottom).
- Whisk in the cornstarch slurry, simmer until thickened. Taste and adjust seasonings as desired (more hot sauce, salt, add pepper, etc.)
- Serve into bowls or better yet, in a bread bowl!
Tips and Variations
- Put your own twist on this classic soup by using a variety of toppings. Extra shredded cheddar cheese, additional broccoli, croutons or bacon crumbles.
- It’s easy to make this delicious soup vegetarian by using vegetable broth instead of chicken broth.
- Need more time? Pick up precut, match stick carrots at the store
- Serve it in a crusty bread bowl, just like the original, or serve it with a side of french bread for dipping.
Can I use frozen broccoli?
Of course. But since you are using frozen broccoli with other ingredients that are not frozen, quickly steam the frozen broccoli or place the florets in a bowl and cover with hot water. Let it sit for a few minutes, drain and use paper towels to remove the excess water before adding to the other vegetables. This will bring up the temperature of the broccoli so the veggies will cook evenly.
What if I don’t have half and half?
You can use whole milk.
What is the best cheddar cheese to use?
Your favorite sharp cheddar cheese, just be sure to buy a block and shred yourself because it melts much better into the soup we opposed to the pre-shredded bags of cheese. . Pre-grated cheese is also coated with anti-caking agents that keep it from melting evenly so if you use that your cheese may clump together in the soup.
Can I make this dairy free?
I have not tested this copycat Panera broccoli cheddar soup with dairy free options. If you do, please drop a comment below to give any other readers some tips or helpful advice!
Before You Begin! If you make this, please leave a review and rating letting us know how you liked this recipe! This helps our business thrive & continue providing free recipes.
- 2 Tbsp. olive oil
- 1 cup matchstick/julienned carrots (1/8th inch size)
- 1 small yellow onion, diced
- 3 cups broccoli (2 cups diced very small, 1 cup leave larger florets)
- 1 cup broccoli stems, diced small
- 1 tsp. kosher salt, plus more to taste
- 1 1/2 tsp. garlic, minced
- 3 cups chicken broth
- 2 cups half and half
- 1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard (I like Grey Poupon)
- 1 Tbsp. granulated sugar
- 1 tsp. hot sauce
- 1 1/2 tsp. paprika
- 1/4 tsp. turmeric
- 8 oz. sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
- 6 oz. Velveeta cheese, cut into cubes
- 1 1/2 Tbsp. cornstarch + 1 1/2 Tbsp. water
Last step! If you make this, please leave a review and rating letting us know how you liked this recipe! This helps our business thrive & continue providing free recipes.
- Heat the olive oil in a large Dutch oven or heavy bottomed soup pot on medium-low heat.
- Add in the carrots, onions, broccoli & broccoli stems and cook on medium-low to sweat the veggies. This will take ~12-14 minutes. Add the kosher salt about half way through the sweating process.
- Add the garlic and stir until fragrant ~1 minute.
- Pour in the broth, half and half, mustard, sugar, hot sauce, paprika and turmeric. Stir. Turn the heat up to medium-high.
- Add in both cheeses and stir until the cheeses melt. Bring to a boil then turn the heat back down to a simmer. (Be sure to stir frequently so the cheese doesn’t stick to the bottom).
- Whisk in the cornstarch slurry and simmer until thickened. Taste and adjust seasonings as desired (more hot sauce, salt, add pepper, etc.)
- Enjoy in a bowl garnished with more cheese and black pepper or serve in a bread bowl and dive into this goodness!
- Storage: keep in an air-tight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.