This creamy broccoli cheese soup is packed with broccoli flavor and is extra cheesy. It is made without flour and gets its thick, creamy base from a potato! This soup is lighter on the calories with all the flavor you’d expect! Jump to the Broccoli Cheddar Soup Recipe
It’s common to see broccoli cheddar soup made with a base of flour, butter, and milk. The method is not that different from making the cheese sauce for macaroni and cheese. First, melt butter, whisk in flour, and add milk and heat until the milk thickens. Broccoli soup made this way is delicious, but it’s a bit too heavy for us.
Our healthier version skips the butter and flour paste and calls on one potato to do the thickening. This halves the amount of butter needed, says goodbye to the flour, and no longer requires multiple cups of milk.
Amazingly enough, even with skipping all those ingredients, our soup is creamy, rich, and delicious! So much so that you won’t miss them one bit.
How to Make Broccoli Cheddar Soup
If you have made our creamy vegetable soup before, this recipe might seem a bit familiar. Here are the basic steps; remember that the entire recipe is below.
Cook onions and whole garlic cloves (no mincing required!) in a bit of butter until soft and sweet.
Stir in chopped potato, broccoli stalks (the florets come into play later), salt, pepper, red pepper flakes (for heat), and a teaspoon of Dijon mustard. Cover everything with water or broth and simmer until tender. I find that water works just fine in this soup. I know that it seems like we should add more flavor with broth, but using water allows the broccoli to shine. We take the same approach when making this tomato soup.
Add half of the broccoli florets, cook until green and tender, and then blend the soup. I use my immersion blender to make things easy. Since we held those broccoli florets back, they are still bright green, making our soup pretty.
Now that the soup is ultra-creamy, we can add the remaining broccoli florets and cook until they are bright green and tender. This way, the base of the soup is green and creamy, and you still get a few small bites of broccoli.
Stir in lots of grated sharp cheddar cheese — I like extra sharp white cheddar — and then stir in 1/2 cup of half-and-half if you want your soup extra creamy. Half-and-half is sold in the US and is a blend of whole milk and cream — milk or cream work, too.
And that’s it. Green, extra creamy broccoli cheddar soup. We love it!
Tip: Buy Broccoli with Stalks
Buy broccoli with long stalks for this recipe if you can find them. The stalks taste fantastic and are excellent when cooked with the potato as the base of this soup. In the recipe below, we will guide you through preparing the stalks.
If you cannot find broccoli with the stalks still attached, you can make this soup. First, buy two pounds of broccoli florets and cook about half of them with the potato instead of the stalks (as suggested in the recipe). Save the remaining florets for later and follow the directions in the recipe for adding them.
More Vegetable Soup Recipes
Our Favorite Broccoli Cheddar Soup
This broccoli cheese soup is packed with broccoli flavor and is extra cheesy. It is made without flour and butter and gets its thick, creamy base from a potato! When shopping for this soup, look for broccoli sold with long stalks. We chop the stalks up and cook them with the potato. After a quick blend, the stalks and potato turn into a delicious, creamy soup. If you can only find broccoli heads or florets, you can still make the soup. See our tips in the article.
Watch Us Make the Recipe
You Will Need
1 large onion, finely chopped
4 medium garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
2 tablespoons unsalted butter or olive oil
2 pounds broccoli with stalks
3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt, plus more to taste
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, omit if sensitive to spice
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 medium-to-large potato, peeled and chopped
1 bay leaf
4 cups water or broth
1/2 cup half and half, optional
8 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, grated, about 2 cups
Thinly sliced chives, for serving, optional
Fish sauce, optional, see notes
- Prepare Broccoli
- Make the Soup
Slice the florets from the stalks. Set the broccoli stalks aside and cut the florets into small bite-size pieces (watch our video for reference). Throw the florets into a bowl and set them aside for later.
Grab the broccoli stalks and cut about 1-inch from the bottom of each stalk and discard it. Use a vegetable peeler to peel away the tough outer layer of the stalks, and then slice the stalks into 1/2-inch pieces.
Melt the butter in a large pot like a Dutch oven over medium heat. When it has melted, toss in the onion and garlic cloves. Cook, occasionally stirring until the onions are soft and smell sweet; about 5 minutes.
Add the chopped broccoli stalks, potato, 3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt, 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, Dijon mustard, and red pepper flakes (if using). Cook for two minutes, and then add the bay leaf and four cups of water. Bring the soup to a boil, and then reduce to a low simmer. Cook, at a low simmer, until the broccoli and potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes.
Stir in about half of the broccoli florets to the soup, cover with a lid, and cook until they turn bright green and are tender, 3 to 5 minutes. Adding the florets in this step makes sure that our soup stays green.
Turn off the heat, remove the bay leaf, and then use an immersion blender to blend the soup until smooth. You can also use a blender, but be careful to blend the soup in batches, do not fill more than halfway, and hold the lid down firmly as you blend. Hot liquids can cause steam to build in the blender, and the top can pop off.
Place the pot back onto the burner and heat over medium heat. Stir in the remaining broccoli florets, cover the pot again, and cook until they turn bright green and are tender, 3 to 5 minutes.
Stir in the half-and-half and cheese. When the cheese melts into the soup, taste and then adjust with additional salt and pepper to taste. For a pop of flavor, add a few dashes of fish sauce. Serve with chives scattered on top.
Adam and Joanne’s Tips
- Make the soup greener: For an even more vibrant green color, just before you plan to blend the soup, add a couple of handfuls of baby spinach leaves and allow them to wilt into the soup slightly (30 to 45 seconds).
- Fish sauce is optional but adds a lovely flavor to sauces and soups like this broccoli cheese soup. Two to three dashes season the soup nicely. Think of fish sauce as salt on steroids. It doesn’t make the soup taste fishy but does make the flavor pop.
- Recipe inspired by our creamy veggie soup!
- Nutrition facts: The nutrition facts provided below are estimates. We have used the USDA database to calculate approximate values.
Nutrition Per Serving: Serving Size 1/6 of the recipe / Calories 295 / Total Fat 19.2g / Saturated Fat 11g / Cholesterol 54.7mg / Sodium 627.3mg / Carbohydrate 19.3g / Dietary Fiber 5.1g / Total Sugars 5g / Protein 14.4g