The Best Broccoli Cheddar Soup

$4.97 recipe / $1.24 serving
by Beth - Budget Bytes
4.91 from 66 votes
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If ever there was a meal-worthy soup, it would be Broccoli Cheddar! This bowl full of colorful, chunky vegetables and a super thick cheesy “broth” is sure to leave you warm, happy, and satisfied. Unlike some broccoli cheddar soup, my Broccoli Cheddar Soup recipe doesn’t use heavy cream and is ever so slightly lighter on the cheese, so you still get all that creamy, cheesy goodness without feeling totally weighed down. But, you can always add more cheese if you’d like. #norules This soup is so dang easy I’m sure it’s going to go into my regular rotation!

Three bowls of Broccoli Cheddar Soup with saltine crackers on the side

Small Batch Broccoli Cheddar Soup Recipe

Most of my soup recipes are big batch so you can freeze the leftovers and stock your freezer with all that goodness, but this Broccoli Cheddar Soup is the exception. Cheese sauces (and in this case broths) thickened with butter and flour roux don’t tend to hold up to freezing and thawing, so I made this a small batch soup so you don’t have to worry about having too many leftovers. This recipe makes four generous servings.

How to Store Leftovers

As mentioned above, you don’t want to freeze this soup, but it will stay good in your fridge for 4-5 days. And boy are the leftovers ever DELICIOUS. They reheat beautifully in the microwave, or can be reheated on the stove top over medium-low heat, stirring often.

What to Serve with Broccoli Cheddar Soup

This broccoli soup, with its super thick and cheesy “broth,” is just begging for some crackers or thick crusty bread for scooping up every last drop. I love saltine crackers with mine, but oyster crackers would be awesome, as would my focaccia rolls

Can I Use Frozen Broccoli?

Yes, frozen broccoli works quite well for this recipe. I do suggest letting them thaw completely before adding them to the soup, and you probably will still want to chop them into much smaller pieces (think bite-sized, fits-on-a-spoon small).

Make it Vegetarian

I used chicken broth as the base for my soup because it tends to be a little more on the mild side and the light color doesn’t overshadow the orange color of the cheese, but you can use vegetable broth instead to make this soup vegetarian. Just be aware that it tends to have a stronger flavor and the darker color may darken your soup. 

CLose up of a ladle full of broccoli cheddar soup
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The Best Broccoli Cheddar Soup

4.91 from 66 votes
This super easy Broccoli Cheddar Soup is chock full of colorful, chunky vegetables in a rich and cheesy broth for a totally meal-worthy soup.
Overhead view of a bowl of broccoli cheddar soup with saltine crackers
Servings 4 2 cups each
Prep 10 minutes
Cook 40 minutes
Total 50 minutes

Ingredients

Instructions 

  • Dice the onion. Chop the broccoli into very small pieces. Peel and slice the carrots.
  • Add the butter and onion to a large soup pot and sauté over medium until the onions are soft and translucent. Add the flour and continue to sauté for about 2 minutes more, or until the flour is coating the bottom of the pot and is a light golden brown color.
  • Add the chicken broth and whisk to dissolve all the flour off the bottom of the pot. Turn the heat up to medium-high and, while stirring often, allow the broth to come up to a simmer. When it reaches a simmer it will thicken to a gravy consistency.
  • Turn the heat back down to medium and whisk in the milk, smoked paprika, garlic powder, black pepper, and cayenne pepper. Allow the broth to come back up to a simmer.
  • Add the chopped broccoli and carrots, allow the broth to come back up to a simmer, and continue to simmer the vegetables, stirring often, for 15 minutes, or until the carrots are tender.
  • Finally, turn the heat down to medium-low and stir the shredded cheese into the soup, one handful at a time, until it is fully melted. Taste the soup and add salt if needed (this will depend on the salt content of your broth—I did not add any).

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Nutrition

Serving: 2cupsCalories: 426.2kcalCarbohydrates: 22.43gProtein: 16.65gFat: 30gSodium: 949.73mgFiber: 2.55g
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Video

Scroll down for the step by step photos!

Overhead view of a bowl of broccoli cheddar soup with saltine crackers

How to Make Broccoli Cheddar Soup – Step by Step Photos

Chopped broccoli

Dice one yellow onion, finely chop one pound of broccoli and peel and slice two carrots. I’m showing a photo of the broccoli so you can see how fine you want the pieces. I might even go a smidge smaller on the broccoli next time. You want the pieces small enough to easily fit on a spoon!

Sautéed onion and butter, flour being added to the pot

Add the onion and 4 Tbsp butter to a large soup pot and sauté over medium heat until the onions are soft and translucent. Add 4 Tbsp all-purpose flour and continue to sauté for about 2 minutes more, or until the flour is coating the bottom of the pot and has turned a light golden brown color.

Chicken broth being whisked into the pot

Whisk 2 cups of chicken broth into the pot, making sure to dissolve all the flour off the bottom of the pot. Bring the broth up to a simmer over medium-high heat while stirring often. Once it reaches a simmer it will thicken into a gravy-like consistency.

Whisk in milk and spices

Turn the heat back down to medium. Whisk 2 cups milk, ½ tsp smoked paprika, ¼ tsp garlic powder, ¼ tsp black pepper, and ⅛ tsp cayenne pepper into the thickened broth. Allow the broth to come back up to a simmer.

Chopped vegetables added to the pot

Add the chopped broccoli and sliced carrots to the pot. Allow it to come back up to a simmer, then continue to simmer the vegetables, stirring often, for 15 minutes, or until the carrots are tender.

Simmered vegetables in the soup

You can test a piece of carrot or broccoli to make sure it’s to your desired tenderness. If not, simmer a bit longer. The soup doesn’t even have any cheese in it yet, but it already looks so good!

Shredded Cheese added to the soup

Finally, add 6 oz. of shredded sharp cheddar, one handful at a time, until it is fully melted into the soup. I stopped at 6oz. (¾ of an 8oz. block), but you could always add the remaining 2oz. if you prefer.

Finished broccoli cheddar soup being stirred

And that’s a wrap! Taste your soup and see if you want to add any additional salt. This will mostly depend on the salt content of your chicken broth. I did not add any, but if your soup is tasting a little bland, a little salt can go a long way toward making the flavors pop!

Side view of broccoli cheddar soup in the pot with the ladle

Soooo thick and cheesy!! 😍

Three bowls of broccoli cheddar soup with saltines on the side
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  1. This recipe is well-balanced and delicious. My chicken broth was salty enough that no extra salt was necessary.
    Many thanks!

  2. This is my absolute favorite broccoli cheddar soup. I have made other “fancier” version with white wine or expensive cheeses added. This simple one is the best. I bring it to parties and people love it. I make it exactly to recipe except I use half and half instead of milk. At the end I also take an immersion blender and blend a little bit to make it extra creamy and thick.

  3. I made a double batch so I had enough leftovers for work all week, I find that it curdles/separates a little when reheating in the microwave even when I do it in short bursts and stir in between, but it still tastes good.

    I shredded the carrots instead of chopped.

  4. This soup is SO GOOD! I used frozen broccoli and cooked it ahead of time. Then it was a cinch to chop up fine. I used unsalted butter and it came out just right. Also added a little Tabasco for a touch more spice. Happy lunches this week!

  5. Absolutely delicious! I doubled the cayenne and garlic powder, but other than that made as written. Definitely recommend.

  6. Excellent soup! Perfect for a cold, dreary day.

    I used 2 cups half-and-half since that’s what I had and had to use up (I added a little water when the soup was simmering to thin it out a bit). I’m not a big fan of paprika, so I used–now, hear me out–nutmeg instead. It works well in bechamel sauces, so I thought, “Why not?” The 1/2 tsp I used didn’t overpower the soup and added a nice flavor.

    1. I’ve never tried to use goat milk cheddar in a recipe like this, so I’m not sure if it performs any differently than cow’s milk cheddar.

  7. Love this. I usually run my stick blender through before adding cheese to make it smooth and it’s our fav.

  8. Good recipe, but the smoky taste of the smoked paprika really took over in a way I didn’t like. Next time I would use regular paprika.

  9. This has become my go-to for broccoli cheddar soup! I made a batch before leaving town recently and didn’t want to throw away the leftovers. I put it in the freezer and surprisingly it froze just fine! Sometimes cream-based soups don’t freeze well, but this one turned out fine when I thawed and reheated the leftovers. Good to know for future because this makes a pretty big pot of soup!

  10. I only had a steamable frozen broccoli bag, and it worked out. I really appreciate the pictures with the steps and measurements, because although I could have done the recipe without it, it made me feel more confident as I went and I didn’t have to do alot of scrolling back and forth. This is my first intro to this site, and I’ve now bookmarked and actually excited to see what other recipes are around and the prices.

    1. Did you steam the broccoli first in the microwave before adding it to the soup? Thanks!

  11. Just a note here – you can make this with oat milk, it just won’t be as creamy.

    I also added an additional cup of water to the broth for personal preference, but even so I suspect that because oat milk is more watery that this soup will be more watery than the original recipe. The oat milk also might’ve made the flavor a pinch sweeter (because oat milk is a pinch sweeter than regular milk) but it’s hard to tell without being able to directly compare them.

  12. One of my top favorites from your site, hands down! I like to add some celery for extra veg, but otherwise I make as written!

  13. Made as written and this was really good. Easy to cook! I think I’ll be heavy handed with the spices next time but as is it is still very delicious.