Broccoli cheddar soup features tender broccoli in a rich and creamy broth. More importantly, it's a great excuse to consume a lot of cheese. Mmm, cheese.
Broccoli Cheddar Soup
- 1 onion, diced
- 2 tablespoons of butter
- 2 tablespoons of flour
- 1 medium head of broccoli (about 4 cups)
- 4 cups of broth
- 1 cup of whole milk
- 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese (8 ounces by weight)
- optional spices: ¼ teaspoon of cayenne pepper, ¼ teaspoon of paprika, ¼ teaspoon of black pepper
- Heat a pot over medium heat. Add the onion and butter. Stirring frequently, cook for 5-7 minutes until the onion is golden brown.
- Sprinkle in the flour. Stirring frequently, cook for another minute to toast the flour.
- Add the broccoli and broth. Cook for 20-25 minutes until the broccoli is tender.
- Reduce the heat to low heat. Add in the milk and stir to combine.
- Slowly add in the cheese in batches, and stir thoroughly to melt each batch.
- Add seasonings and salt to taste.
- Serve immediately. Leftovers keep well in the fridge for a few days.
- Onion: Required for broccoli cheddar soup. Adds sweetness and depth. Any color onion (red, white, yellow) is okay. Milder onions may not be as flavorful.
- Butter: Used for cooking the onion and flour. Any sort of oil (canola, vegetable, olive) is okay. If adjusting the amount of butter, keep a 1:1 ratio of butter to flour. Add up to 4 tablespoons of butter.
- Flour: Thickens the soup and helps the cheese melt. Alternatively, you can add a slurry at the very end when you add the dairy. To make the slurry, stir together 1 tablespoon of cornstarch plus 1 teaspoon of cold water until perfectly smooth.
- Broccoli: Required for broccoli cheddar soup. Use 1 head of broccoli for simplicity. If you want to use broccoli stems, peel so they cook at the same rate as the florets. Substituting 2 bags (16 ounces) of frozen broccoli would be okay.
- Broth: Required for broccoli cheddar soup. The tastiness of the finished soup depends a lot on what broth you use, so homemade is best. Any sort of high quality broth would work.
- Whole milk: Adds richness and creaminess. Can omit for a lighter soup. Full fat dairy has the richest flavor. Add up to 2 cups of whole milk or half and half, up to 1 cup of cream, or up to 1 can of evaporated milk. For a tangier flavor, add up to 1 cup of buttermilk, or top with 1/4 cup of sour cream when the soup is completely done.
- Cheddar cheese: Required for broccoli cheddar soup. Reduce the amount for a lighter soup. You can add different types of cheese for additional flavor, such as 1/4 cup of Parmesan. Shredding your own cheese may be tastier, but pre-shredded cheese would also work.
- Garlic: Add up to 4 cloves of garlic, finely minced.
- Spices: Add up to 1/2 teaspoon of the following: paprika, mustard, thyme, black pepper. Add up to 1/4 teaspoon of cayenne pepper or red pepper flakes to add a bit of spice. Add a bay leaf when the soup is simmering.
- Salt: Add to taste at the very end. Be careful because broth and cheese are salty. I did not add any additional salt.
Alternate Cooking Methods
Slow cooker: Add everything besides the cheese to the slow cooker. Cook for 4-6 hours until the broccoli is completely tender. Add in the cheese and stir to combine.
Cooked broccoli: Cooking the broccoli ahead of time decreases the time the soup needs to simmer. You can roast the broccoli for additional flavor.
Step by Step Photos
You should use the broccoli stems so you don't waste food. The stems tend to be fairly tough, so you should peel them and cut the stems into very small pieces.
Dice the onion. Roughly chop the broccoli into small pieces. The vegetables will end up being cooked to smithereens so precision isn't that important.
Heat up a pot over medium heat. Add 2 tablespoons of butter and 1 diced onion. Cook for 5-7 minutes until the onion turns golden brown.
After the onions are cooked, add 2 tablespoons of flour. Cook for about a minute to remove the raw floury taste.
Add in the chopped broccoli and 4 cups of broth. The ice block is homemade turkey stock leftover from Thanksgiving dinner. If you have frozen broth, thaw before using. I ended up taking out the block and microwaving it for 5 minutes.
Ah, much better. Stir to combine all of the ingredients. Cover the pot with a lid, and cook for 15-20 minutes.
If you have a block of cheese, you can shred the cheese while the broccoli cooks. I had a lot of cheese leftover from Thanksgiving dinner - this is half American cheese, half cheddar. You can use a cheese grater, a food processor/blender, or a knife.
You want the broccoli to be very tender for the best texture. Here is where you need to be very careful. If you heat dairy at too high heat, it will curdle and mess up your soup.
Reduce the pot to low heat. There should be no more bubbles. Pour in the milk. I used 1/2 a can of evaporated milk, also leftover from Thanksgiving dinner.
I added spices (1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, 1/4 teaspoon paprika, 1/4 teaspoon of black pepper) now for aesthetics, but you can add these whenever.
Add in the cheese in batches. Add about a third of the cheese, and stir until melted. Repeat until you've added all of the cheese. For best results, you should wait until all of the cheese is melted before adding more cheese.
Actually, I was impatient during this step, and I ended up with some clumps of unmelted cheese. However, don't be tempted to increase the heat. Overheating the cheese will really mess up the texture; under-melting the cheese is still delicious.
If you want a smoother soup, you can mash up the broccoli using a potato masher, an immersion blender, or a regular blender/food processor. I didn't want to wash anything else, so I left the soup as is.
Serve immediately. Leftovers keep well in the fridge for a few days. I really don't suggest freezing this because the dairy won't fare well.
This recipe makes about 5 cups of soup. A 1/2 cup serving makes a nice snack, and I found a 2 cup serving was filling and satisfying enough to have for a meal.
Have any questions about serving suggestions? Feel free to comment below, or email me at email@example.com.