Panera Broccoli Cheese Soup

A Bowl of Comfort: Recreating Panera’s Beloved Broccoli Cheddar Soup at Home

There’s something undeniably comforting about a steaming bowl of Panera Bread’s Broccoli Cheddar Soup. It’s creamy, cheesy, and packed with tender broccoli florets – a perfect meal for a chilly day or a satisfying side dish for any dinner. But what if you could recreate that same comforting flavor in your own kitchen, without the hassle of takeout? Well, you can! This recipe unlocks the secrets to making Panera’s iconic Broccoli Cheddar Soup at home, offering a delicious and budget-friendly alternative.

Why You’ll Love This Panera Broccoli Cheddar Soup Copycat:

  • Restaurant-Quality at Home: Savor the familiar taste of Panera’s classic soup, made with simple ingredients you can easily find at your local grocery store.
  • Family-Friendly Feast: This creamy soup is a guaranteed crowd-pleaser, perfect for busy weeknight dinners and sure to be a hit with both adults and children.
  • Cozy Comfort Food: Warm up from the inside out with this rich and flavorful soup, ideal for chilly evenings or rainy days.
  • Easy and Customizable: This recipe requires minimal prep work and comes together in under 30 minutes, making it perfect for busy weeknights. Plus, you can easily adapt it to your preferences with different vegetables or cheeses.
  • Budget-Friendly: Skip the takeout and create a delicious and satisfying meal for a fraction of the cost.

The Secrets to Panera’s Broccoli Cheddar Soup Magic:

Before diving into the recipe, let’s explore some key elements that contribute to the signature taste and texture of Panera’s Broccoli Cheddar Soup:

  • The Art of the Roux: A roux, a paste made with butter and flour, is the foundation for the soup’s creamy texture.
  • Chicken Broth Base: Chicken broth adds depth of flavor and forms the base of the soup.
  • Tender Broccoli Florets: Fresh chopped broccoli florets provide a delightful textural contrast to the creamy base.
  • Sharp Cheddar Symphony: Sharp cheddar cheese is the star of the show, delivering a bold and tangy flavor.
  • Nutmeg’s Warm Touch: A touch of nutmeg adds a subtle warmth and complexity to the overall flavor profile.

The Ingredients You’ll Need (Serves 4-6 People):

  • Soup Base:

    • 1 tablespoon butter
    • ½ medium onion, chopped
    • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
    • 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
    • 2 cups milk (whole milk for a richer flavor)
  • Vegetables and Seasonings:

    • 1 ½ cups chopped broccoli florets (fresh or frozen)
    • 1 cup matchstick carrots (julienned carrots)
    • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg (optional)
    • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • Cheesy Bliss:

    • 2 ½ cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese (about 10 ounces)
  • Optional Accompaniments:

    • Crusty bread or bread bowl
    • Chopped fresh herbs like chives or parsley
    • Cooked crumbled bacon (for a smoky twist)

Step-by-Step Guide to Making Panera Broccoli Cheddar Soup:

1. Sautéing the Aromatics:

In a large saucepan or Dutch oven, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the chopped onion and cook until softened and translucent, about 5 minutes. This step adds sweetness and depth of flavor to the soup.

2. Creating the Roux:

Stir in the flour and cook for 1-2 minutes, whisking constantly. This forms the roux, which thickens the soup and gives it a smooth and creamy texture. Be careful not to brown the flour, as it can impart a burnt flavor.

3. Broth and Milk Symphony:

Slowly whisk in the chicken broth, ensuring a smooth mixture. Bring to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. This allows the flavors of the roux to develop.

4. Gradually Adding Milk:

Gradually whisk in the milk and bring the soup back to a simmer. Ensure the milk is heated through but not boiling, as it can curdle.

5. Vegetable Symphony:

Add the chopped broccoli florets and carrots. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Cook for 15-20 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender-crisp. For a smoother soup, you can add the broccoli florets a few minutes earlier than the carrots, as they take longer to cook.

6. Nutmeg (Optional):

If desired, stir in a pinch of ground nutmeg for a subtle warmth and complexity.

7. Cheese Power!

Reduce heat to low and gradually stir in the shredded cheddar cheese until melted and incorporated. Be careful not to overheat the cheese, as it can become grainy. Use a whisk or spatula to ensure even distribution of the cheese throughout the soup.

8. Taste and Adjust:

Once the cheese is melted, taste the soup and adjust seasonings with salt and pepper as desired. You can also add a splash of milk or chicken broth to achieve your preferred consistency.

9. Serve and Savor:

Ladle the hot soup into bowls and serve immediately. For a restaurant-style presentation, consider serving it in a hollowed-out bread bowl (optional). Garnish with a sprinkle of chopped fresh herbs like chives or parsley for an extra touch of color and flavor.

Tips for Success:

  • Fresh or Frozen Broccoli? Both fresh and frozen broccoli florets work well in this recipe. If using frozen broccoli, add it a few minutes earlier than fresh broccoli, as it takes slightly longer to cook through.
  • Creamy or Chunky? If you prefer a smoother soup, use an immersion blender to blend about 1 cup of the cooked soup before adding the cheese. This will create a more velvety texture.
  • Dietary Adaptations: For a dairy-free version, use a dairy-free milk alternative and vegan cheese. You can also use vegetable broth instead of chicken broth.
  • Leftovers: Leftover soup can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Reheat gently over low heat, adding a splash of milk or broth if needed to achieve desired consistency.
  • Flavor Variations: Explore different flavor profiles by adding a pinch of cayenne pepper for a hint of spice, cooked crumbled bacon for a smoky element, or chopped fresh herbs like chives or parsley for extra freshness.

Beyond the Bowl:

Panera’s Broccoli Cheddar Soup is more than just a delicious meal; it’s a memory maker. Here are some ways to elevate your soup experience:

  • Cozy Night In: Dim the lights, put on some relaxing music, and curl up with a steaming bowl of soup and a good book for a truly comforting experience.
  • Family Fun Night: Make it a family affair by letting everyone help with the preparation. Kids can help chop the vegetables or shred the cheese (with adult supervision).
  • Potluck Perfection: This soup is perfect for potlucks or gatherings with friends and family. It’s easy to transport and sure to be a crowd-pleaser.


With this Panera Broccoli Cheddar Soup copycat recipe, you can recreate the warmth and comfort of your favorite restaurant soup in your own kitchen. The simple ingredients, straightforward steps, and customizable options make it a perfect meal for busy weeknights, cozy weekends, or gatherings with loved ones. So, gather your ingredients, turn on the stove, and get ready to experience the deliciousness of Panera’s Broccoli Cheddar Soup, all from the comfort of your home!

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