Home Copycat Recipes Copycat Panera Broccoli Cheddar Soup

Copycat Panera Broccoli Cheddar Soup

As extensive as their menu is, there’s one thing at Panera Bread that I just can’t say no to, and that’s Panera broccoli cheddar soup

I let myself look beyond all that cheddar cheese and pretend it’s a super healthy bowl of veggies. It’s loaded with broccoli and carrots, after all!

Trust me: this copycat broccoli cheddar soup recipe is so comforting, it can make any winter night seem just a little warmer.

Homemade Panera Broccoli Cheddar Soup with Bread
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The Best Broccoli Cheese Soup

It’s thick, velvety, and you can have it on the table in just about an hour. That’s right, this broccoli cheese soup is your next favorite fall soup recipe.

Loaded with tender broccoli, sweet carrots, and plenty of cheddar cheese, this dish will keep you full for hours.

Make it extra rich by using cream in place of milk. Or keep it vegetarian-friendly with vegetable stock instead of chicken. 

Either way, it’ll knock your socks off!

Better still, it’s easy, fast, and totally doable on a weeknight.

Panera Broccoli Cheddar Soup Recipes - Butter, Onion, Flour, Milk, Chicken Stock, Broccoli Florets, Carrots and Cheddar Cheese


If you look around, you’ll notice that almost all broccoli cheddar soup recipes are identical.

The big difference is the use of milk over cream, and some will have a small addition, like nutmeg or cayenne pepper. But this recipe keeps it simple:

  • Butter – In some cases, you can substitute butter for a vegan alternative, but given that this recipe is all about the cheese, it’s best to stick with the good stuff.
  • Onion – Use a variety of white onion for this, as you’ll want it to sweat down and add flavor.
  • Flour – This is to make the roux and can be whatever type you have on hand.
  • Milk – Using lower-fat milk will affect the texture at the end, and if you want it creamy, it’s best to use whole milk. Alternatively, you can use cream or half-and-half. 
  • Chicken stock – Stock will always add much-needed flavor to a soup or stew, and chicken stock provides some yummy seasoning. But you can use veggie stock, too.
  • Broccoli florets – The broccoli should be in bite-sized pieces and can be fresh or frozen. If using frozen, be sure to let them thaw and drain any excess liquid.
  • Carrots – I like to grate my carrots for this soup, but you can slice them however you prefer. Just be sure they’re small enough to cook in the time allotted. 
  • Cheddar Cheese – Since this is a cheesy soup, you’ll want something with flavor. Many mild cheddars will add very little, so look for something that says ‘mature’ or ‘sharp’ on the package.
A bowl of Panera broccoli soup garnished with cheese.

How to Make Panera’s Broccoli Cheddar Soup

This delicious broccoli cheddar soup recipe couldn’t be easier to make at home! Here are the steps to follow:

1. Melt the butter and saute the onions. Cook until they’re translucent. This may take up to 5 minutes.

2. Whisk the melted butter with the flour. Do this in a large pot over medium-low heat until the flour is no longer grainy. Add 1-3 tablespoons of milk to keep the flour from burning.

3. Slowly pour in the rest of the milk. Whisk it continuously until smooth.

4. Stir the chicken stock into the saucepan and bring it to a simmer. Cook it for about 20 minutes, until the mix has thickened.

5. Add the veggies. Throw in the broccoli, carrots, sauteed onion, and celery. Simmer it until the vegetables are fork-tender.

6. Stir in the shredded cheese. Do this a little at a time, mixing it until the cheese has melted. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Variations and Substitutions

There are a few easy variations you can try to make broccoli and cheddar soup your own.

  • Try different cheeses. Try Monterey Jack, Pepper Jack, Swiss, American, Velveeta, or Parmesan.
  • Use frozen broccoli for a shortcut. This recipe calls for fresh broccoli. If you’re in a pinch, frozen veggies will work just fine. You won’t sacrifice any nutrition!
  • Make it vegetarian. Swap the chicken stock for vegetable broth for a vegetarian version of the soup.
  • Spice it up. Throw in some red pepper flakes or cayenne pepper to take the spice level to the next level.
  • Try other veggies. Mix things up with cauliflower, zucchini, or whatever you have on hand!
Creamy Panera Broccoli Cheddar Soup loaded with cheese.

Tips for the Best Soup

This recipe is pretty simple to follow and doesn’t require any fancy cooking techniques.

But I still have a few little tips to be sure it comes out just right:

  • Use a block of mature cheddar or sharp cheddar. Grating your own cheese is not only cheaper but will ensure a smooth texture after it melts. 
  • Make it smooth. I like the texture here, but you can blitz this soup – before adding the cheese – if you want it smooth.
  • Stir the roux constantly. Otherwise, the flour might burn or clump. Then, add the milk in slowly, stirring all the time, to keep it lump-free.
  • Make a double batch and freeze half. That way, you can pull it out on one of those busy days for a no-fuss dinner.
  • Let the onions caramelize to add extra flavor. It’ll take a bit longer, but it’s worth it!

How to Thicken Broccoli Cheddar Soup

This recipe uses a roux, which thickens the liquid as it heats up. Add more flour, and you’ll get an even thicker soup.

Or, try one of these methods:

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  • Blend the soup. If you don’t want to add more flour, you could try blending the soup. Even just blending half will make it thicker and creamier, and you’ll still have some texture.
  • Add a slurry. Mix three tablespoons each of cornstarch and cold water until smooth, then add it to the soup.
  • Up the dairy. This could be using heavy cream instead of milk or adding extra cheese. 
Thick and Creamy Panera Broccoli Cheddar Soup

How to Store Panera Broccoli Cheddar Soup

If you have leftover broccoli cheddar soup or want to make a double batch for meal prep, here’s the best way to store it.

To Store. Place the soup in an air-tight container and put it in the fridge. It should keep for up to 5 days.

To Freeze. Let the soup cool to room temperature. Then, transfer it to a freezer-safe container. Thaw it overnight in the fridge before reheating it.

To Reheat. Heat it on low heat on the stovetop. You can also microwave the soup for 30-45 second increments, stirring in between to avoid splatter.

What to Serve With Panera Broccoli Cheddar Soup

In terms of what to serve with broccoli cheese soup, you can’t go wrong with crusty bread!

I mentioned my love for the bread bowl, but this soup will be just as good without it.

But if you’re looking to make it even more filling, I have some great suggestions.

  • Top the soup with some extra cheese
  • Add bacon bits
  • A warm batch of jalapeño cheddar biscuits
  • Honey beer bread would be to die for

But if you’re really looking to outdo yourself, you have to make this garlic bread grilled cheese. Trust me; you won’t be sorry.

Creamy Panera Broccoli Cheddar Soup on a bowl garnished with grated cheese.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is my broccoli cheddar soup gritty?

If the temperature of your soup is too hot, you’ll wind up with a gritty, grainy texture. Be sure to heat it low and slow to avoid this.

Is Panera broccoli cheddar soup good for you?

It’s a nutritious dish because it contains calcium and protein. However, since it also has cheese and cream, it’s more calorie-dense than other soups.

Can I make it in the Instant Pot?

Yes, and it couldn’t be easier!

1. Chop your broccoli and add it to the Instant Pot. Add the chicken stock, butter, carrots, onion, and seasonings. Stir everything to combine.

2. Close the Instant Pot, and turn it to “sealing.” Pressure cook it on high for 1 minute. Do a quick release and open the lid.

3. Add the milk and cheese and stir until the cheese is melted. Whisk together water and corn starch until it’s smooth to make a slurry.

4. Stir in the slurry. Set the Instant Pot to “saute.” Allow it to thicken while stirring it frequently.

More Soups You’ll Enjoy

New England Clam Chowder
Paula Deen’s Crockpot Potato Soup
Butternut Squash Soup
Olive Garden Chicken Gnocchi Soup
Creamy Pumpkin Soup

Copycat Panera Broccoli Cheddar Soup

Course: Main, SoupsCuisine: American


Prep time


Cooking time





This Panera broccoli cheddar soup copycat recipe is cheesy, creamy, and tastes just like the real deal! Learn how to make this simple fast-food favorite today.


  • 1 tablespoon butter

  • 1/2 onion, chopped

  • 1/4 cup melted butter

  • 1/4 cup flour

  • 2 cups milk

  • 2 cups chicken stock

  • 1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped broccoli florets

  • 1 cup matchstick-cut carrots

  • 1 stalk celery, thinly sliced

  • 2 1/2 cups shredded sharp Cheddar cheese

  • salt and ground black pepper to taste


  • Using a skillet over medium-high heat, melt the butter and saute the onions until translucent. This may take up to 5 minutes. Set aside, off the heat, when ready.
  • In a large saucepan, whisk together 1/4 cup of melted butter with the flour, cooking over medium-low heat.
  • Cook until the flour is no longer grainy, stirring continuously – add 1-3 tablespoons of milk to keep the flour from burning. This may take 3-4 minutes.
  • Slowly pour the rest of the milk, whisking continuously, into the flour and butter mix.
  • Stir the chicken stock into the saucepan and bring to a simmer.
  • Cook for about 20 minutes, until the mix has thickened.
  • Add the broccoli, carrots, sauteed onion, and celery to the thickened soup and simmer until the vegetables are fork-tender. This may take up to 20 minutes.
  • Stir in the shredded cheese, mixing until the cheese has melted.
  • Salt and pepper to taste.


  • Grate your own cheese. It’s not only cheaper but will ensure a smooth texture after it melts. 
  • You can blitz this soup – before adding the cheese – if you want it smooth.


  • Calories: 283kcal
  • Carbohydrates: 13g
  • Protein: 13g
  • Fat: 20g
  • Saturated Fat: 13g
  • Cholesterol: 61mg
  • Sodium: 354mg
  • Potassium: 357mg
  • Fiber: 2g
  • Sugar: 5g
  • Calcium: 369mg
  • Iron: 1mg
Panera Broccoli Cheddar Soup

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author avatar
Kim - InsanelyGood
Hey there! I'm Kim. I love running, cooking, and curling up with a good book! I share recipes for people who LOVE good food, but want to keep things simple :)

4 thoughts on “Copycat Panera Broccoli Cheddar Soup”

  1. This soup was outstanding. I didn’t exactly measure the broccoli and probably added more than called for. I also used 1 onion. The soup was perfect for a cold winter night. Thank you for sharing the recipe, Kim.

    • Hi Natalie, it definitely couldn’t hurt to add more broccoli to the recipe. It probably amped up the nutrition! I’m so happy to hear you liked it.


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