HomeAppetizer Panera (Inspired) Broccoli Cheddar Soup

Panera (Inspired) Broccoli Cheddar Soup

Comments : 35 Posted in : Appetizer, Dinner, Lunch on by : Chris Tags: , , , , ,

broccoli cheddar soup

Comfort Food Week continues here at The Keenan Cookbook. After that snow storm that blew into the North East, Rachel and I decided we needed some good comfort food to cheer and warm us up after the unpleasant shock of snow in October. Yesterday we shared an Oven Roasted Chicken, which fills not only your belly but the house with warmth and a delicious aroma. Today we are sharing this delicious Panera (Inspired) Broccoli Cheddar Soup – perfect to warm you up at the end of a cool Fall day.

broccoli cheddar soup

Rachel and I are big fans of Panera Bread, it being our date spot during college. Even after getting married we would still treat ourselves now and then, or when on the run, to soup from Panera. Now with Baby Boy in our lives and running the show, we don’t really eat out much.

Rachel surprised me last month with a big pot of Panera (Inspired) French Onion Soup when I got home from work.  So last weekend (the one before that ridiculous snow storm) when Rachel had to attend a looong work conference on a Sunday, I decided to surprise her with this Panera (Inspired) Broccoli Cheddar soup.

broccoli cheddar soup

Working on the weekend is never fun, but it’s even less fun when it keeps you away from Baby Boy for the better part of the day. So while Rachel attended her conference, Baby Boy and I went shopping for Broccoli Cheddar soup ingredients, including a stop at Panera for some sourdough bread bowls. I prepared this soup while Baby Boy bounced away happily in his jumparoo, smiling and cooing at me as he played and I cooked.

(Note from Rachel: When I try to cook, the Baby likes to give off ear-piercing shrieks from the jumparoo until I make eye contact. Then he laughs. If I don’t look, he keeps shrieking until I do. Not so conducive to cooking!)

The recipe is easy enough that I was able to get it ready fairly quickly, so I could get back to hanging out and playing with Baby Boy. And when Rachel walked in at the end of the day,  she was greeted not only by the smiling faces of her two boys, but the delicious aroma of Broccoli Cheddar soup.

broccoli cheddar soup

I lightened this recipe up from the original, reducing the amount of butter it called for, and swapping half and half for skim milk. I also used my own homemade chicken stock that I made from the left over oven roasted chicken, though any low-sodium chicken stock should do.

This soup is perfect for a chilly day or bad day. If you need comfort food, we recommend it!

Comfort Food Week isn’t over yet. Stay tuned to see whose recipe we feature on tomorrow’s Taste Test Thursday!

Recipe: Panera (Inspired) Broccoli Cheddar Soup


  • 1/2 medium chopped onion
  • 1 tablespoon melted butter
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 2 cups fat free milk
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 1/2 lb fresh broccoli
  • 1 cup carrot, julienned
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 8 ounces grated sharp cheddar cheese
  • salt and pepper


  1. Sauté onion in non stick cooking spray. Set aside.
  2. Cook melted butter and flour using a whisk over medium heat for 3-5 minutes. Stir constantly and add the milk.
  3. Add the chicken stock. Simmer for 20 minutes.
  4. Add the broccoli, carrots and onions. Cook over low heat 20-25 minutes.
  5. Add salt and pepper. Transfer contents to a blender and pulse until desired consistency (if at all). Return to heat and add cheese. Stir in nutmeg.

Cooking time: 40 minute(s)

Number of servings (yield): 6

broccoli cheddar soup

What is your favorite comfort food?


35 thoughts

    • Chris
      November 2, 2011 at 10:29 am

      We are big fans of Velveeta in this house. We aren’t ashamed to admit that 🙂

  • November 2, 2011 at 9:52 am

    I love the way you’ve lightened up this recipe! Broccoli cheddar soup is something I tend to stay away from because of all the heavy stuff that’s in it–but I think I could make a comforting exception for this version. 🙂

    • Chris
      November 2, 2011 at 10:31 am

      Yea, the original recipe called for way too much butter. I’m not Paula Deen – I like to keep my butter consumption to a minimum! (But boy do her dishes look good)

  • November 2, 2011 at 10:27 am

    skim milk?! oh how dare you lol jK btw I totally love the bread bowl idea. I’ve seen it used so many times and I always forget to try it. I didn’t know you could purchase them at panera tho! We don’t have one super close so that’s my excuse for not knowing. Do you eat the bowl when you’re done with it?

    • Chris
      November 2, 2011 at 10:55 am

      Yep Panera sells them. $About 2 bucks or so each, so special treat. We absolutely do eat the bowl when done 🙂

  • November 2, 2011 at 11:32 am

    I LOVE Panera’s Broccoli Cheddar Soup and yours looks even more amazing! I’m Panera obsessed (obviously…gingerbread bagels are from Panera lol) so I’m completely drooling over this. 🙂 I can’t wait to try it out, yum!

    • Chris
      November 2, 2011 at 1:21 pm

      Thanks Lindsey! Panera holds a special place in our heart (and stomach) too 😉

  • November 2, 2011 at 11:57 am

    I love Panera soup…the best out there. This sounds amazing and I love the bread bowl. We have a grocery store that sells them here but you just can’t beat the ones that Panera sells. Delicious!

    • Chris
      November 2, 2011 at 1:22 pm

      I was tempted to try and make them myself but Baby Boy looked at me as if to say “who are you kidding” so I just bought them 😉

    • Chris
      November 2, 2011 at 1:23 pm

      Thanks Mercedes! You can’t beat the Panera version for sure, but I did feel less guilty about making and eating this version!

  • November 2, 2011 at 1:18 pm

    Oh my I might just have to make a little stop at Panera. Those bread bowls tempt me in the worst way. Yummy soup! And I totally agree with Rachel here- my kiddo goes bonkers while I cook. He prefers to be exactly 1 inch from my feet at all times once the oven is turned on.

    • Chris
      November 2, 2011 at 1:26 pm

      Darn I forgot to add that disclaimer at the post footer: Not responsible for inducing Panera cravings 😉

  • November 2, 2011 at 7:41 pm

    Ohhhhh……I so needed this on Monday when I had no power! I’m making this tomorrow and freezing it for this winter. I can reheat on my mom’s gas stove. Thanks for the recipe! (I can substitue chicken stock with vegetable stock, right?)

    • Chris
      November 2, 2011 at 8:26 pm

      Ugh, sorry to hear you had no power Karen. We lucked out somehow here in NJ, despite almost everyone else we know losing power and heat.
      I think you’ll be fine substituting vegetable stock for chicken. Let me know how it comes out!

  • November 2, 2011 at 7:42 pm

    ….that is I’ll reheat the soup when I lose power again this winter. I know I will, with this crazy climate change.

    • Chris
      November 2, 2011 at 8:28 pm

      Whenever we get crazy snow storms my father in law, who isn’t sold on climate change being man made or even happening, gives me a wry smile and says “So, climate change huh?” – He is lucky I like him!

  • November 2, 2011 at 10:18 pm

    Panera broccoli cheddar soup is my weakness! I could probably eat it everyday if I could afford too. I love this version because I can make it at home and it seems a bit better on the waistline 😉

  • Lisa
    February 15, 2012 at 12:54 pm

    I’m going to try this tomorrow. Have you ever taken on Panera’s loaded baked potato soup?

  • Rachel
    February 28, 2012 at 7:56 pm

    Just made this recipe tonight, but the cheese clumped up when I stirred it in at the end. So, we ended up with runny broth and clumps of cheese. Any idea why that might have happened? I used a block of cheddar cheese that I grated myself. I didn’t use the blender at all, but maybe that would have helped???

    • Chris
      February 28, 2012 at 9:45 pm

      Hmm that is odd. I made it over the weekend for my Mom and had no problems. Was the Cheddar low or no fat? I know zero fat cheese melts weird for me.
      Sorry you had a bad experience with it. I hope you’ll give it another go at some point 🙁

  • Rachel
    February 28, 2012 at 8:12 pm

    You know, I used 1/8 cup cornstarch instead of the flour because my husband is trying to go gluten free for a couple weeks. Even though it is such a small amount, maybe the corn starch was the problem. Don’t know much about cooking, so I’m not sure why that would be.

    • Chris
      February 28, 2012 at 9:47 pm

      Cornstarch is perfectly ok. My Dad is (supposed to) be gluten free so I’ll use cornstarch instead of flour to thicken soups or stews. Did you dissolve the cornstarch in cold water first, then add? It might not have dissolved completely, remained chunky, in the broth if not.

  • Ariel
    November 2, 2012 at 4:12 pm

    I’m in the process of making the soup right now. The butter, flour, milk and chicken stock is extremely thick. Will it thin out or have I done something wrong?!

  • Season
    November 6, 2012 at 11:49 am

    After craving this soup for a few days and looking around on Pinterest for the best recipe, yours sounds the best! Will be making tonight for election night! Not to mention my first stop will be to purchase paneras bread bowls to get the full effect! Thanks for posting this recipe!

  • Michelle
    February 12, 2013 at 11:12 am

    Do you think I could use frozen broccoli? My kids have been asking for this for days and all I have is frozen.

    • Chris
      February 12, 2013 at 11:16 am

      Michelle, I think frozen broccoli is fine! I’d recommend thawing it first and making sure to strain out any of the water. Let us know how you make out!

      • Michelle
        February 12, 2013 at 3:26 pm

        It turned out fine. I defrosted the broccoli in the microwave first and it was still yummy :). Thanks for answering quickly I live in England so we were just about ready to make dinner when I asked!

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  • Leiah
    October 22, 2013 at 1:41 pm

    Hi Chris, What does your Broccoli Cheddar soup look like the next day (if it makes it that far)? I made some last night for lunch today and while tasting it last night all was well but it seems to have separated. The cheese and maybe even the milk are in little white clumps almost making it look like rice or star shaped pasta. Did I do something wrong or is this a normal thing to happen? I’m going to try the recipe again I think. Maybe there was not enough roux since the butter was cut from 1/4 cup to 1 tbs. Thanks for posting! Still tastes good, just looks funny. 😉

    • Chris
      October 22, 2013 at 8:20 pm

      Hi Leiah,

      So glad you liked the recipe! I think I know what you are describing as that has happened to me before, not just with this soup but other recipes that require a roux. When I make the roux, if I add too much milk to whisk in I get clumps of the roux that dont break up. If this is what happened to you, possibly, next time you make it try adding the milk in slowly and really working to incorporate the roux and milk with a whisk. If that isn’t it, it could be the cheddar you used. I am a big fan of extra sharp cheddar but I find it does not melt down as nicely as milder cheddar and other cheeses. Just two thoughts for you. Let me know how it goes next time you make it. Next time I make it, I’ll pay extra attention and see if I run into anything like you did. Glad it still tasted good though!

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