Broccoli Cheese Soup

My sister and I were both avid cooks as kids, and clearly my affinity for cooking stuck… and so did hers!  She cooks as much as anyone I know who doesn’t cook for a living, and she’s quite excellent at it.  When we were kids, we each had a small arsenal of recipes that we made on repeat.  Broccoli soup was one of hers, and I can still smell the thin green flecked soup if I close my eyes and concentrate.

Broccoli Cheddar Soup

My sister’s soup was lighter than this one, with simply cooked (not roasted) broccoli, and it was delicious and I think somewhat healthy.  But then I was galvanized by a recipe I read in Chef Alex Guarnachelli’s book The Home Cook (I’m an Alex Guarnachelli fan).  Alex’s soup is super rich and decadent, with an amount of cream that would make a cow blush, and I decided to split the difference and land on a recipe that isn’t what one might call health food….but also doesn’t quite make you feel like you need to lie down and rest after eating it.

Vegetarian Broccoli Cheddar Soup

Use vegetable broth instead of chicken for a vegetarian soup, and obviously skip the bacon at the end.

Broccoli Cheddar Soup: Creamy and prettily flecked with green bits of broccoli, this cheesy soup is pure comfort food.

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How to Prevent Creamy Soup from Separating

When you add dairy to soup, whether milk, cream, or cheese, there is a risk of separating because of the fat in the dairy.  First, know that the soup will be delicious even if that happens, it just won’t be as emulsified, maybe a bit grainy, and perhaps not as pretty, but it will be fine.  

Broccoli Cheddar Soup

One way to prevent separation is to watch carefully that your soup doesn’t come to a boil, or even a simmer once the dairy is added.  I like to add all dairy at the end, and then heat it slowly over low heat.  Even better, if there is a small amount of dairy or cheese, add it once you have removed the soup from the heat.  This is important with certain cheeses, like cheddar, which have oil in them which can cause the soup to curdle. 

Using All of the Broccoli in Broccoli Soup

Broccoli soup is the perfect way to use up a whole head of broccoli, stems and all.  Just make sure you trim off all of the tough and fibrous parts.  First cut off the stems, then trim the woody, dried inch or so bottom of the stem.  Peel the stems tough outer skin, using a vegetable peeler.   Proceed with the 2-inch pieces of the broccoli crowns, or the florets, as well as the stems as you head to the roasting step.  

Roasting Broccoli for Broccoli Soup

In this recipe, the broccoli is roasted before it’s added to the soup mixture, and then it gets pureed all up into a creamy, smooth soup.  Roasting the broccoli first allows it to become tender, and also to caramelize, browning and turning sweeter thanks to the time in a high heat oven. 

Make sure the broccoli is roasted until it is fairly tender; it will continue to cook in the liquid, but it needs to be pretty soft for it to puree into a smooth soup.

Parmesan Roasted Broccoli

You can use other cooked broccoli in the soup (a nice way to transform leftovers), rather than roasting it specifically for this recipe, but using roasted broccoli really provides a depth of flavor that the soup won’t have without it.  I’m a fan – try it at least once, and see what you think!

How to Make Broccoli Cheddar Soup

Preheat the oven to 425°F.  Roast the broccoli until tender and there are nice brown bits on the edges of the broccoli pieces.

In a large pot heat the broth to a simmer over high heat, then add the roasted broccoli, cover the pot, and simmer for 10 minutes until the broccoli is completely tender, adjusting the heat so the liquid stays at a slow simmer.  Then add the milk and cream and bring it to a simmer.  

Broccoli Cheddar Soup

Puree the soup in batches, in a food processor or blender, until smooth, then return to the pot.  

Broccoli Cheddar Soup

You can also use an immersion blender right in the pot.  Taste and see if the seasonings need adjusting.  

Remove from the heat and gradually add the cheddar, stirring, until it is all melted and blended in.  

Broccoli Cheddar Soup

Serve hot, garnished with sour cream and bacon if desired.

Broccoli Cheddar Soup

What to Serve with Broccoli Cheddar Soup:

More Fall Soup Recipes:

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Broccoli Cheddar Soup

Creamy and prettily flecked with green bits of broccoli, this cheesy soup is pure comfort food.
Yield: 6 people
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 1 hour

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds broccoli , cut into 2-inch pieces
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves , very thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 2 cups chicken or vegetable broth , preferably less-sodium
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar

To Serve (Optional):

  • Sour cream
  • Crisped pieces of bacon

Directions

  • Preheat the oven to 425°F.
  • Roast the broccoli: Spray a rimmed baking sheet with nonstick spray, or line it with parchment paper, and place the broccoli on the baking sheet. Drizzle over the olive oil, and then sprinkle over red pepper flakes, salt and pepper. Use a spoon or your hands to toss until the broccoli is well coated with the seasonings and oil. Spread the broccoli out on the baking sheet in a single layer. Roast for 15 minutes, then sprinkle over the sliced garlic, toss, spread it out once more, and roast for another 10 minutes until the broccoli is tender and there are nice brown bits on the edges of the broccoli pieces.
  • In a large pot, heat the broth to a simmer over high heat, then add the roasted broccoli, cover the pot, and simmer for 10 minutes until the broccoli is completely tender, adjusting the heat so the liquid stays at a slow simmer. Then add the milk and cream and bring it to a simmer. Puree the soup in batches, in a food processor or blender, until smooth, then return to the pot. You can also use an immersion blender right in the pot. Taste and see if the seasonings need adjusting.
  • Remove from the heat and gradually add the cheddar, stirring, until it is all melted and blended in. Serve hot.

Nutrition Information

Calories: 400kcal | Carbohydrates: 16g | Protein: 13g | Fat: 33g | Saturated Fat: 16g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 13g | Cholesterol: 82mg | Sodium: 509mg | Potassium: 709mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 7g | Vitamin A: 1946IU | Vitamin C: 141mg | Calcium: 333mg | Iron: 2mg

The nutrition values are provided as an estimate. It is not intended as a substitute for the advice of a qualified healthcare professional.

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