Healthy Broccoli Cheddar Soup
This is a lightened up version of that classic lunchtime favorite soup from Panera – Healthy Broccoli Cheddar Soup! It’s super easy to make, packed with vegetables and buzzed up to a comforting cream-like consistency, without any cream or dairy – other than the cheddar cheese of course!
Growing up, I loved the Broccoli Cheddar Soup from Panera. I always ate it with a hunk of bread for dipping. Or the best way was to crumble those crispy, salty kettle cooked chips on top! Yum!
So I’m crazy excited to have a healthier, heartier version for weekday lunches as an adult! I developed this Healthy Broccoli Cheddar Soup without any cream, milk, flour or butter. In fact, the only dairy is a handful of shredded cheddar added in at the end … because it couldn’t be broccoli cheddar soup without the cheddar, duh!
(And if you need to make this soup vegan, simply double down on the nutritional yeast and forget the cheddar! In my opinion, you should probably now call it Creamy Broccoli Soup, since the word cheddar doesn’t apply — but you do you.)
The creamy texture of this Healthy Broccoli Cheddar Soup is made by cooking down and then blending up a ton of vegetables including carrots, onions, celery, broccoli stalks, cauliflower and potato – whew! Talk about veggie-packed! This combination of vegetables provides the lovely, thick consistency of a bisque-type soup without the need for any cream, butter, flour or milk.
Additionally, we doubled down on the broccoli by using the whole gosh-darned thing — stalk, stem and floret! This highlights the broccoli flavors, gives us more body and creates almost no food waste!
How to store leftovers from the soup:
This Healthy Broccoli Cheddar Soup makes awesome leftovers or weekday lunches. Store it in an airtight container for up to a week in the fridge or for up to a month in the freezer.
What to serve with this soup:
Depending on whether you’re having this soup for lunch or dinner, you may be fine with it all on its own. Personally, I still like crushing a handful of kettle chips on top (Lightly Salted Cape Cod Chips are my current fave!), but that may be the nostalgia talking! I also love a side salad, a small cheeseboard or a baguette on the side for dipping.
Based on a classic favorite cheesy soup but made with tons of added veggies and no additional cream or dairy (other than the necessary cheese!)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 large head broccoli stalks and florets chopped and separated
- 2 carrots separated (we will dice one and shred the other)
- 2 stalks celery diced
- 1 medium onion diced
- 5 garlic cloves minced
- ¾ teaspoon smoked paprika
- ½ teaspoon ground mustard
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 2 cups cauliflower florets
- 1 medium Russet or Idaho potato peeled and chopped
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 6 cups vegetable or chicken broth
- 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
- 4 oz. shredded cheddar cheese
Prepare the vegetables: For the broccoli, separate all the florets from the stalk. Chop the stalk into 2-inch chunks. Break the florets into small pieces. Set aside. For the 2 carrots, peel both. Chop one into a medium dice, then shred the second carrot and set aside.
Heat olive oil in a large stockpot over medium heat. Add the diced carrot,celery and onion and let cook for 5 minutes until softened. Stir in minced garlic, smoked paprika, ground mustard, cayenne, salt and pepper and let it sizzle for another 2 minutes.
Toss in cauliflower florets, broccoli stalks (leave the florets for later!), chopped potato, lemon juice and broth. Bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes until the vegetables are tender.
Once vegetables are cooked, blend the soup to a smooth consistency using an immersion blender or a high-speed blender. Then toss in the broccoli florets and the shredded carrot. Let simmer for 15 minutes, then stir in the shredded cheddar cheese. Let it cook for another 5 minutes, stirring frequently to make sure the cheese melts evenly. Season with salt and pepper to taste, then serve hot.