Panera Bread Cheddar Broccoli Soup {Copycat}

{Copycat} Panera Bread Cheddar Broccoli Soup

My mother makes a mean cheddar broccoli soup. It’s my favorite soup that she makes, always has been. When I was younger and my mother would make her cheddar broccoli soup, she’d always serve it in bread bowls. Have you tried soup in a bread bowl? Wait, you don’t know what a bread bowl is?? Unthinkable! A bread bowl is made from a round loaf of bread with a crispy outside and a soft and fluffy inside. You cut off the top, scoop out the fluffy inside (kind of like pumpkin carving) and fill the bread “bowl” with your favorite soup! It’s delicious. The bonus is dipping the fluffy bread from inside into my soup. How about a how-to on bread bowls? I think I’ll put that on my to blog list.

{Copycat} Panera Bread Cheddar Broccoli Soup

 

Unfortunately, I’m a grown gal and don’t live with my mother anymore so I can’t get her delicious cooking at any old time I desire to have it. Fortunately there is take-out from restaurants that have dishes to remind me of my mother’s cooking. Have you been to Panera Bread?? It’s amazing! One of those soup-salad-sandwich places that I completely adore. One of my absolute favorite items from their menu is their Cheddar Broccoli Soup. I’ve created a copycat version so I can make it whenever I want right at home! This recipe is easy peasy and deliiiiiiish. I ate this soup all week long last week and I’m wishing I had more. A second batch is happening very soon!

{Copycat} Panera Bread Cheddar Broccoli Soup

Panera Bread Cheddar Broccoli Soup {Copycat}
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Rich and creamy cheddar broccoli soup, inspired by the well known Panera Bread restaurant!
Author:
Recipe type: Main Dish-Vegetarian
Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • ½ medium onion diced
  • 3 cups water
  • 3 teaspoons beef bouillon (or 3 beef bouillon cubes) OR veggie broth for a vegetarian version
  • ¼ cup butter (4 tablespoons)
  • ¼ cup flour
  • 1½ cups fat free half & half (or regular)
  • 3 cups chopped broccoli florets
  • 1 teaspoon salt (or to taste - I like it with about 1½ teaspoons)
  • ½ teaspoon white pepper
  • 2 cups mild cheddar cheese
Instructions
  1. In a small pan sauté 1 tablespoon butter and onions over medium heat until onions are translucent. Remove from heat and set aside. In a small sauce pan bring water to a boil, add beef bouillon and whisk until combined. Remove from heat and set aside. In a deep pan or soup pot melt ¼ cup butter over medium heat. Slowly whisk in flour until mixture clumps up or forms a "ball". Add beef bouillon/water mixture and stir to combine. Slowly whisk in half & half and continue to stir until smooth. (If large lumps remain, mash them out with a rubber spatula)
  2. Add broccoli florets and onions and bring soup to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and allow to simmer 15-20 minutes or until broccoli is tender and easily pierced with a fork. Stir in salt, white pepper, and cheddar cheese. Stir until cheese is melted. Serve hot and top with additional cheese if desired.
Notes
I love my cheddar broccoli soup thick and chunky with big pieces of broccoli, but if you prefer it smooth simply toss it in the blender after the cheese has been added and melted. Pulse for a minute or two until desired consistency is reached!

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  1. Judi Welke says

    Thank you so much for getting back to me so quickly. It has been so cold that I’ve been wanting to make soup and this will be perfect. Thanks again!

  2. tonya says

    I make bread bowls with Rhodes rolls. Just have to think ahead. Super easy and delicious. Panera’s broccoli cheese soup is my daughters fav. Can’t wait to make it for Christmas Eve. She will be so excited.

    • Tiffany says

      I’ve never tried them with Rhodes but that’s brilliant! I LOVE this soup and it’s perfect for Christmas Eve, I hope your daughter loves it as much as we do!

    • Tiffany says

      Oh I am so glad this soup worked well for you! We absolutely love it, it’s a regular thing now at our house! Thanks Nicole!!

  3. Rita says

    I can’t wait to make this, but it isn’t vegetarian if you are adding beef bouillon. I’ll add vegetable bouillon so that it really is vegetarian.

    • Tiffany says

      Oh I’m so sorry, the recipe is supposed to be beef broth OR veggie broth for vegetarian, I’m so sorry for the mix up! I’ve updated the recipe to fix this. This soup is by far one of our very favorites I hope you love it Rita! :)

  4. Sarah says

    I have to be somewhere right up until dinner time tonight. Do you think I could make this ahead of time and let it sit in the crock pot on warm?

  5. says

    I made this last month and it was absolutely amazing! Even my kids gobbled it up. I had some broccoli cheese soup from Paradise Bakery (I believe Panera owns them now) the other day and it was awful. Too much cream and just no flavor. This recipe is by far better. I’m making it again tonight for some girlfriends who are coming over for some crafting:) Thanks for sharing it!

    • Tiffany says

      I’ve tried many recipes for Cheddar Broccoli Soup, and ordered it at many restaurants, but this recipe is by far my favorite! The flavors are all just perfect, the cheddar isn’t too strong, the broccoli isn’t overpowering, and it isn’t so rich that I feel sick, but rich enough to make me keep coming back for more!! Thanks so much Katie!! :)

  6. Nikki says

    I made this tonight and it was delicious! Better than Panera’s, I’d say, and theirs was my favorite! My husband went crazy for this and has declared that this is now his favorite meal of all time. haha. So, thank you! :)

    • Tiffany says

      Okay I am so glad someone agrees with me… this soup is BETTER than Panera Bread’s right?! I wanted so badly to call it “Better than Panera Bread’s Cheddar Broccoli Soup” but I was worried I’d have all sort of hateful comments coming in!! So just between you and me, that’s it real name. ;)

  7. Amber says

    Hi! This sounds delish! Can I throw this in the crock pot after mixing everything together and let it cook on low for 4-5 hours? Thanks! :)

  8. kitty says

    Hi,
    so eager to try your cheddar broccoli soup.I want to make it tomorrow, but before I do, I need to know if you used a white or yellow onion?
    Table salt,sea salt, or kosher salt?

    Thank you

    • Tiffany says

      Hi Kitty! This is one of my ALL time favorite soup recipes! I always prefer white onion over yellow but either will work in this recipe. Also, I used sea salt, but table salt will also work just fine!

  9. jgirl says

    I have never made this type of soup before, and was wondering if the recipe will double? I want to make this recipe for a school function!! Thanks for your thought! :)

  10. jgirl says

    I have never made this type of soup, and was wondering if the recipe can be doubled? I want to make this recipe for a school function!! Thanks for your thoughts! :)

  11. jgirl says

    It was a big hit last night!! I no leftovers!! I will definitely be using this recipe again!! by the way I didn’t double the recipe I tripled it and it worked out great!! Thanks so much for sharing this recipe! I’m very glad that I chose this one!

    • Tiffany says

      I am so thrilled to hear that this tripled well! And even more excited that you loved it!! Few things make me prouder than this soup :)

      • Joanna says

        I made this tonight exactly as written and it turned out VERY salty. I even used unsalted butter.:( I am headed to the store to buy more half and half and make a second batch. Praying that if I add another batch it will even out the salt!:/

        • Tiffany says

          Hi Joanna, I haven’t heard from any of my other commenters that this recipe is too salty… however, it is up to individual taste to say for sure. As a rule of thumb I always use low sodium broths as well. Hope this helps!

  12. says

    I made this soup tonight for dinner, and it was delicious! I only used 8oz of cheese, and it still was amazing! Thank you so much for posting this recipe!

    • Erica says

      This recipe is a huge hit with my boyfriend! He says it’s the best soup he’s ever had, better than restaurants! I was wondering if you could substitute half&half for milk instead?

      • Tiffany says

        Oh thanks so much Erica! My husband goes nuts for this soup every time I make it – we never order it when we go out to restaurants anymore because we like this so much better! So glad you love it too! :)

  13. Meg says

    Made this for the first time last night. It is SO good!! I made it with the veggie broth to make it vegetarian. So delish! And easy! I highly recommend this recipe! Thanks for posting!

    • Meg says

      I came back to say that I made this again (It is SO GOOD!) and actually had some leftover. I took it for my lunch and it reheats in the microwave very well! Just in case anyone is wondering ;)

    • Tiffany says

      Hi Amy! I haven’t worked much with gluten free flour so I can’t say from experience that it will work, but the purpose of flour in this recipe is a thickening agent so I think there’s a good chance that gluten free flour could do the trick. If you do try it, please let me know how it turns out so I can share that information with my other readers! :)

      • Amy Reyes says

        Just used gluten free flour and it turned out AMAZING! I actually had to add a little extra flour to make somewhat of a ball (kinda looked more like shiny mashed potatoes lol), but the consistency of the end product is wonderful! I may add a little extra half and half to thin it out a hair, but the flavor is definitely not lacking! Thanks for sharing this recipe! I have a feeling it may now be a rainy day staple ;)

  14. Erin says

    you used to have an amazing recipe for both non slow cooker broccoli cheddar soup. I can’t find the regular–non slow cooker one! Help!