Healthy Broccoli Cheddar Soup

This healthy broccoli cheddar soup is gluten-free and packed with broccoli, carrots, onions, garlic, and cheese. It’s creamy, delicious, and is the perfect Copycat version of Panera’s Broccoli Cheddar Soup.

healthy broccoli cheddar soup in a white bowl on cutting board

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As soon as the leaves turn here, soup recipes are on repeat all winter long. I love making copycat versions from our favorite restaurant soups, including Olive Garden Pasta e Fagioli and Zuppa Toscana.

Of course, both soups include healthy, clean ingredients.

Another soup recipe that I decided to lighten up is Panera broccoli cheese soup. This copycat version is healthier and tastes just as good if not better than the original.

Reasons you’ll love this recipe

  • Gluten-free. Unfortunately, the famous Panera broccoli cheese soup does have gluten. But this copycat version doesn’t! And it tastes just as good. Yay! So if you’ve missed this Panera soup, then you’ll love this delicious gluten-free version.
  • Low-carb. If you’re looking for a satisfying low-carb recipe that’ll fill you up, this broccoli cheese soup is it!
  • Healthy one-pot recipe. Who doesn’t love a tasty one-pot recipe that’s easy to prepare, clean up, and everyone loves?
  • It comes together in 30 minutes. This soup recipe is perfect for when you want to get a healthy dinner on the table fast during the busy week. Or make it ahead to heat and eat during the week.
  • Delicious and nutritious. This soup recipe is loaded with fiber-rich vegetables and protein. It’s a family favorite that even the pickiest of eaters will love.

Ingredients

The ingredients to make gluten free broccoli cheddar soup.

Onion and garlic. This duo starts the flavor foundation for this popular soup recipe.

Grated carrot. To save time, you can purchase store-bought grated carrots. But, if you can, I recommend grating the carrots fresh for the best flavor. 

Nutmeg, salt, and pepper. Wait, nutmeg in broccoli cheddar soup? Yep. Believe it or not, this is the secret ingredient to get that copycat Panera broccoli cheddar soup taste.

Gluten-free flour. I’ve used all different kinds of gluten-free flour when making this soup. Again, it depends on what I have in my pantry. 

Bob’s Red Mill 1:1 gluten-free flour, oat flour, tapioca flour, and cornstarch (make sure to read the label for gluten-free) all work great.

Chicken broth. High-quality organic chicken broth will give this soup its best flavor. I like the Wegmans brand, or often I can find Pacific Chicken Broth for a great price at BJ’s Wholesale. You can also use vegetable broth to make this a vegetarian recipe.

Coconut milk. Instead of heavy cream, this soup recipe uses unsweetened coconut milk to get that same creaminess without the fat. You can substitute dairy milk, almond milk, or any milk in this recipe. I tend to use unsweetened coconut milk because that is what I usually have in the fridge. 

Cream cheese. This gives the soup another layer of creamy richness.

Broccoli florets. I use frozen organic broccoli because that’s what I have on hand most often. However, you can use fresh broccoli florets too.

If you’re using fresh broccoli, it’s okay to use some of the broccoli stems because you will puree the soup at the end. You’ll use about 4 cups of broccoli florets.

Grated parmesan cheese. This gives the soup another layer of cheesy flavor.

Shredded sharp cheddar cheese. I highly recommend shredding the cheese fresh, if you can. You’ll get better flavor and texture this way. Not to mention, you don’t have to worry about any additives, preservatives, or gluten.

overhead picture of the broccoli cheese soup with cheese and broccoli on top.

FAQS

Is broccoli cheddar soup unhealthy?

It can be with this healthy broccoli cheese soup recipe! This recipe is gluten-free, filled with broccoli and carrots, and uses the perfect portion of cheese to give that delicious cheesy flavor without all of the fat.

Why won’t my cheese melt in my broccoli cheddar soup?

The biggest reason the cheese is struggling to melt is that you have the stove-top on high heat. So, instead of melting, it clumps together or curdles. Cheese needs to melt slowly on medium-low heat.

How long is broccoli cheese soup good for in the fridge?

If you have leftovers, then store the Broccoli cheese soup in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. I’ve also successfully frozen this recipe. Check in the storage tips section for my instructions.

Cooking Tips

Make the broccoli cheddar soup thicker. This soup recipe already calls for adding gluten-free flour to thicken it up. However, after you blend it, if you want it thicker, you can do a few different things:

  1. Add more cornstarch or flour. I recommend making a slurry first by whisking in ½ cup broth with about 2-3 tablespoons of cornstarch or flour in a bowl. You want the flour or cornstarch to dissolve. Then whisk it into the soup and let it cook on low for another 10- 15 minutes to thicken.
  2. Create a paste with butter and flour to make a roux. You can use 2-3 tablespoons flour to 2-3 tablespoons of butter. You want this to be a thick paste. Then slowly whisk the paste into the soup and let it cook for another 10-15 minutes to thicken.
  3. Stir in more broccoli or cheese. I recommend cooking the broccoli before adding it into the soup, or it won’t get tender. You can also use steam in a bag of frozen broccoli that takes about 5-6 minutes to cook. Then cut the broccoli into small pieces and stir into the soup.

Make the soup thinner. If your soup becomes too thick, stir in some additional chicken stock until you get the consistency you want. Start with a small amount, so it doesn’t end up too watery.

Create the texture you want. If you want a chunky soup, use a potato masher to break up the broccoli or lightly blend. If you want the soup smooth, blend until you get the consistency you want.

Cook on medium-low to low heat after adding the cheese. It seems natural to turn the stove-top up to high when trying to melt the cheese. However, this can cause the cheese and dairy to seize, curdle, or clump together. Instead, slowly melt the cheese on low heat.

Use different cheese. I team extra sharp cheddar with this broccoli cheese soup, but swap in your favorite cheese for variety. I’m sure pepper jack, mozzarella, or swiss cheese would be tasty.

Add some heat. Stir in a pinch of red pepper flakes for a spicy kick.

a close up spoonful picture of the broccoli cheddar soup.

Shop this recipe

  • 5 1/2 quart Dutch Oven
  • Immersion Blender or High-Speed Blender

How to Make Healthy Broccoli Cheddar Soup

step by step collage showing how to make broccoli cheddar soup.
  • On the stove-top, oven medium heat, In a 6-quart soup pot or large dutch oven, sauté the onions and carrots in olive oil until the onions are translucent and the carrots start to soften about 3-5 minutes. 
  • While the vegetables are cooking, make the slurry for the soup and set it aside. To make the slurry whisk together ¼ cup gluten-free flour and 1 cup chicken stock.
  • Next, stir the garlic into the onions and carrots, cooking for another 2 minutes or until fragrant.
  • Stir in the nutmeg, salt, and pepper and let it cook for another minute. 
  • Pour the slurry into the soup pot with vegetables. Bring to a boil and let it simmer until the liquid thickens a little bit, about 3-5 minutes.
  • Stir in the rest of the chicken stock, coconut milk, cream cheese, and broccoli. 
  • Over medium-high heat, bring to a boil and then bring to a low simmer over medium heat and simmer until the broccoli and carrots are soft, and the cream cheese melts about 25 minutes. It’s okay if there are specks of cream cheese during this step; those will disappear after the soup is blended.
The last steps showing a collage on finishing up the broccoli cheddar soup.
  • Use an immersion blender to blend the soup until you get the consistency you like. You can also add the soup in batches to a high-speed blender and then pour it into the soup pot to add the cheese. Again, if you like a chunkier soup, use a potato masher to break down the broccoli and carrots. 
  • Turn the heat down to low and then stir in the shredded extra sharp cheddar and parmesan. Continue stirring until the cheese melts slowly. 
  • Taste for salt and then serve.

Storage tips

For the week

Store this healthy broccoli cheddar soup in airtight containers in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. I recommend storing the soup in smaller portion-controlled containers to make it easier to enjoy individual grab-and-go meals.

For the freezer

Despite what some recipes say about freezing broccoli cheddar soup, I’ve had a lot of success doing so. The secret is to warm it up slowly on the stove-top to prevent curdling or separation. 

If you can, take the soup out the night before to thaw in the refrigerator and then warm up on the stove-top. You can warm up in the microwave, but I recommend doing so in 1-2 minute increments and stirring in between. 

But, for best results, I recommend heating the soup up on the stove-top over low heat. Let the soup cool completely, and then freeze into individual portions using small airtight containers or silicone trays like Souper Cubes.

Learn more about freezing soup in this how to freeze soup guide I put together.

Other healthy soup recipes

See all of my healthy soup recipes.

broccoli cheese soup in a white bowl with cheddar.
healthy broccoli cheddar soup in a bowl

Broccoli Cheddar Soup

This healthy broccoli cheddar soup is gluten-free and packed with broccoli, carrots, onions, garlic, and cheese. It’s creamy, delicious, and is the perfect Copycat version of Panera’s Broccoli Cheddar Soup.

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5 from 1 vote

Print Pin Rate

Course: dinner, Lunch

Cuisine: American

Keyword: broccoli cheddar soup, copycat broccoli cheddar soup, healthy broccoli cheddar soup

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 55 minutes

Servings: 8 people

Calories: 199kcal

Author: Tammy Overhoff

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium white onion chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic chopped
  • 2 cups grated carrot
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • ¼ cup gluten-free flour
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 2 cups unsweetened coconut milk or any milk
  • 4 ounces cream cheese cut into cubes
  • 2 12-ounce bags frozen broccoli florets
  • ¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 2 cups shredded extra sharp cheddar cheese.
  • extra salt if needed

Instructions

  • On the stove-top, oven medium heat, using a 6-quart dutch oven or large soup pot, sauté the onions and carrots in olive oil until the onions are translucent and the carrots start to soften, about 3-5 minutes. 

  • While the vegetables are cooking, make the slurry for the soup and set it aside. To make the slurry whisk together ¼ cup gluten-free flour and 1 cup chicken stock.

  • Next, stir the garlic into the onions and carrots, cooking for another 2 minutes or until fragrant.

  • Stir in the nutmeg, salt, and pepper and let it cook for another minute. 

  • Pour the slurry into the soup pot with vegetables. Bring to a boil and let it simmer until the liquid thickens a little bit, about 3-5 minutes.

  • Stir in the rest of the chicken stock, coconut milk, cream cheese, and broccoli. 

  • Over medium-high heat, bring the soup to a boil and then turn to medium low heat and bring to a simmer and simmer until the broccoli and carrots are soft, and the cream cheese melts, this takes about 25 minutes. It’s okay if there are specks of cream cheese during this step; those will disappear after the soup is blended.

  • Use an immersion blender to blend the soup until you get the consistency you like. You can also add the soup in batches to a high-speed blender and then pour it into the soup pot to add the cheese. Again, if you like a chunkier soup, use a potato masher to break down the broccoli and carrots. 

  • Turn the heat down to low and then stir in the shredded extra sharp cheddar and parmesan. Continue stirring until the cheese melts slowly. 

  • Taste for salt and then serve.

Notes

Storage tips
For the week
Store this healthy broccoli cheddar soup in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. I recommend storing the soup in smaller portion-controlled containers to make it easier to enjoy individual grab-and-go meals.
For the freezer
Despite what some recipes say about freezing broccoli cheddar soup, I’ve had a lot of success doing so. The secret is to warm it up slowly on the stove-top to prevent curdling or separation. 
If you can, take the soup out the night before to thaw in the refrigerator and then warm up on the stove-top. You can warm up in the microwave, but I recommend doing so in 1-2 minute increments and stirring in between. 
But, for best results, I recommend heating the soup up on the stove-top over low heat. Let the soup cool completely, and then freeze into individual portions using small airtight containers or silicone trays like Souper Cubes.

Nutrition

Serving: 1cup | Calories: 199kcal | Carbohydrates: 12g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 10g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Cholesterol: 17mg | Sodium: 402mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 2g

Have you tried this recipe?

Have you tried this Healthy Broccoli Cheddar Soup recipe? If so, I’d love for you to rate this recipe and leave a comment below. We all learn from each other’s experiences. Also, it would be awesome if you could share a picture on Instagram and tag it #organizeyourselfskinny. I can’t wait to see it.

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