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Lightened-Up Broccoli Cheese Soup

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This veggie-loaded broccoli cheese soup recipe is perfectly velvety and creamy without using heavy cream. Instant Pot, Crock-Pot and stovetop options all included.

It’s officially -2°F outside right now and we’re on what feels like our zillionth snow day here in Kansas City and I am…over it, lol. Missing those mild Barcelona winters something fierce right about now. But we’ve been doing our best to get back into the Midwestern groove by keeping our new fireplace running, stocking up on cozy blankets and new hot teas, and making soups, soups, soups galore.

One of our recent favorites? This creamy veggie-loaded broccoli cheese soup. ♡

I have to admit this recipe came about purely as an effort to get more veggies into our toddler, who is pretty hit and miss on anything green lately. But once pureed into a velvety, creamy, vibrant green soup and loaded up with crunchy croutons on top, this broccoli cheese soup turned out to be a total win! I added in a generous amount of veggies and took a tip from my friend, Kathryne, to blend a starchy potato into the soup to make it thick and creamy (instead of using extra heavy cream). And the end result was full of fresh broccoli flavor, deliciously creamy and cheesy, and the perfect way to warm up on a far-below-freezing day.

I’ve included options for how to make this recipe in either the Instant Pot, Crock-Pot or on the stovetop. And as I’ve noted below, there are all sorts of fun ways that you can customize this soup with extra veggies or different seasonings if you’d like. I’m just going to insist that you buy a good block of sharp cheddar to shred and blend in here, as its flavor can really make all the different in a good broccoli cheese soup.

For all of you who are also braving the arctic blasts out there, stay warm this week. And let’s make some delicious soup together!

Broccoli Cheddar Soup Ingredients

Here are a few quick notes about the broccoli cheese soup ingredients that you will need to make this recipe:

  • Aromatics: We’ll use a simple mix of chopped onion, carrot and plenty of garlic for the base aromatics, which lend some extra beta-catorine and anti-inflammatory goodness to the soup too.
  • Potato: Feel free to use either a large Russet or Yukon Gold potato, which helps to give the soup a thick, velvety, almost creamy texture once it has been cooked and puréed. No cream necessary in this recipe!
  • Vegetable broth: I recommend using a good-quality vegetable broth (or you could use chicken stock) to serve as the foundation for the broth.
  • Seasonings: We love adding a hint of smoked paprika to this soup, along with salt and black pepper. But feel free to experiment with whatever seasonings you love best for broccoli cheese soup. (I’ve included a few fun suggestions below!)
  • Broccoli: I love the shortcut of tossing a 1-pound bag of frozen broccoli florets into the soup, but you’re welcome to chop up fresh broccoli if you prefer.
  • Cheddar: One request for this recipe is that you invest in a good-quality block of sharp cheddar and grate it by hand before adding it to the soup. A good sharp cheddar can add so much richness and depth of flavor to this soup. And grating the cheese by hand almost always helps it to melt more easily into the soup (versus the pre-shredded stuff, which is coated in anti-caking agents that can inhibit melting).
  • Toppings: Finally, I recommend a few crunchy toppings to balance out the creamy pureed soup! We’re partial to old-school oyster crackers or homemade croutons here in our house, but some extra shredded cheese, bacon bits or sliced green onions are always winners too.

Recipe Variations

Here are a few more variations that you’re welcome to try with this broccoli cheese soup recipe:

  • Add beer: Swap a 12-ounce (1.5 cup) bottle of beer for a portion of the veggie broth. (Extra fun if you serve the soup with pretzel “croutons”!)
  • Add cream: Add a drizzle of cream or a dollop of plain Greek yogurt to the soup just before serving.
  • Add extra veggies or greens: Add in some chopped veggies to the sauté (such as asparagus, bell pepper, celery, leeks or zucchini), use a 50/50 mix of broccoli and cauliflower, or add in a handful of greens (such as spinach or kale) to the soup just before puréeing.
  • Use different seasonings: Play around with different seasonings in place of (or combined with) the smoked paprika, such as basil pesto, curry paste, taco seasoning, or a swirl of tahini (mixed with cumin).
  • Use different cheeses: Use Fontina, Gouda, Gruyere, Monterrey Jack, Pepper Jack, Swiss in place of (or combined with) the cheddar. Or you can play around with adding a smaller amount of crumbled blue or feta cheese to the soup.

More Vegetarian Soup Recipes

Looking for more healthy vegetarian soup recipes to try? Here are a few of our favorites:

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Lightened-Up Broccoli Cheese Soup

  • Author: Ali
  • Prep Time: 5 mins
  • Cook Time: 40 mins
  • Total Time: 45 mins
  • Yield: 4 to 6 servings 1x

Description

This veggie-loaded broccoli cheese soup recipe is perfectly velvety and creamy without using heavy cream. Instant Pot and Crock-Pot options included in the notes below.


Ingredients

Scale
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium white onion, diced
  • 2 medium carrots, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 medium russet potato (about 8 ounces), peeled and diced into ½-inch cubes
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 pound frozen broccoli florets
  • 8 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, freshly grated
  • fine sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper
  • optional toppings: oyster crackers or croutons, extra shredded cheese and/or sliced green onions

Instructions

  1. Sauté. Heat oil in a large stockpot over medium-high heat. Add onion and carrots and sauté for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the garlic and sauté for 2 minutes, stirring frequently.
  2. Simmer. Add the vegetable broth, potato, smoked paprika and stir to combine. Continue cooking until the soup reaches a simmer. Then reduce heat to medium-low (or whatever temperature is needed to maintain a low simmer). Cover and simmer for 10 minutes, or until the potatoes are nearly tender. Stir in the broccoli and cook for 10 minutes, or until tender.
  3. Purée. Use an immersion blender to purée the soup until smooth. Or transfer the soup in batches to a traditional blender and purée until smooth.
  4. Finish. Stir in the cheddar cheese until it has completely melted. Taste the soup and season with plenty of salt and pepper, as needed.
  5. Serve. Serve warm with your desired toppings and enjoy!

Notes

Instant Pot Instructions: Combine the onion, carrots, garlic, veggie broth, potato, smoked paprika, and frozen broccoli florets in the bowl of an Instant Pot. Cover and pressure cook on high for 4 minutes, followed by a quick release. Continue on with steps 3-5.

Crock-Pot Instructions: Combine the onion, carrots, garlic, veggie broth, potato, smoked paprika, and frozen broccoli florets in the bowl of a large slow cooker. Cover and slow cook on low for 3-4 hours, or until the veggies are tender. Continue on with steps 3-5.

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6 comments on “Lightened-Up Broccoli Cheese Soup”

  1. Can this be frozen?

  2. Delicious! Will this soup freeze well?

  3. I was planning on making another version of broccoli cheese soup and this came across my email today. I just made it and it’s delicious as written! Will definitely be making again. I appreciate there is no flour or cream.

  4. We recently moved to Joplin, so we understand about the frigid cold in Missouri – the soup will definitely be a warming treat! By the way, we did a Mediterranean cruise in 2018, stayed several days before and after the cruise in Barcelona, and ate tapas at several of the places you recommended back then. That was a trip we will never forget – thank you for your wonderful suggestions!

  5. I’m not a fan of puréed soups. I suppose this means the soup will not thicken if I skip the purée process?

  6. Made this mostly as written, though I threw in some kale left over from another recipe and used Yukon Gold potatoes since that’s what I had and this turned out great! I’d definitely make it again.