Broccoli Cheese Soup {Lightened Up}

I have a confession to make. I know it's not wholesome, I know it's not healthy, but the broccoli cheddar soup from Panera is SO GOOD. As in, I crave it fortnightly (I don't eat it that often, but trust me I think about it). But since it's full of stuff I'd rather not eat on a regular basis (i.e. highly processed ingredients), I figured I'd attempt to create a lightened-up, healthier version full of good stuff, like actual vegetables! I came across this recipe for broccoli cheese soup from America's Test Kitchen, and figured it was worth a shot - rarely does ATK disappoint. This soup was no exception. It's creamy and cheesy without being goopy or fatty - I tweaked it a little bit to suit my own tastes and make it vegetarian, but this recipe is stellar. No, it's not quite the same as the Panera version - but it's just as tasty, and knowing that it's healthy, wholesome, and homemade, it's much more satisfying to eat and enjoy. 

Broccoli Cheese Soup {Lightened Up}

adapted from America's Test Kitchen

serves 8

Ingredients:

  • 2 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 2 lbs broccoli, florets roughly chopped into 1" pieces, stems trimmed, peeled, and cut into 1/4" thick chunks
  • 1 medium onion, roughly chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 1/2 tsp dry mustard powder
  • pinch of cayenne pepper
  • kosher salt
  • 3 cups water
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 2 cups low sodium veggie broth
  • 2 oz baby spinach
  • 7 oz extra sharp cheddar cheese, roughly grated
  • 1 1/2 oz Parmesan cheese, finely grated
  • freshly ground black pepper
Instructions:
  1. In a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat, melt the butter until foaming. When no longer foamy, add the broccoli, onion, garlic, dry mustard, cayenne, and 1 tsp kosher salt. Cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant, about 6 minutes. 
  2. Add 1 cup water and baking soda, and bring mixture to a simmer. Cover and cook until broccoli is very soft, about 20 minutes, stirring once during cooking.
  3. Add veggie broth and 2 cups water and increase heat to medium-high. When mixture begins to simmer again, stir in the spinach and cook until wilted, about 1 minute. Add the cheddar and Parmesan, remove pot from heat, and process the soup until smooth with an immersion blender (or you can do this in batches in your blender or food processor). Turn heat to medium and bring soup to a simmer again, adjusting consistency with up to 1 cup water if necessary (I like the soup thick - I didn't add any water). Season to taste with salt and pepper. 

 

Find similar recipes at Feastie:

Broccoli-Cheddar Soup from Prevention RD
  Broccoli-Cheese Soup  from Pink Parsley
Broccoli-Cheddar Soup from Prevention RD
Broccoli-Cheese Soup from First Look, Then Cook
Freezer Macaroni Cheese from This Mama Loves

Comments

Second time making these. Used a combination of white whole wheat flour and whole wheat flour. Sprinkled lightly with powdered sugar.
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Made the soup according to the recipe and it was delicious and easy to make. I thought it would make a large amount but it really didn't. It did although taste like the one at Panera's. :). Thank you!
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