When you order broccoli cheddar soup at a restaurant, you may think this comfort food is too hard to replicate at home. But according to Maren Epstein, a professional chef and healthy eating advocate who blogs and shares recipes at Eating Works, "Broccoli cheddar soup is not hard to make." She assured Mashed, "It sounds complicated, but you make it just like any other vegetable soup. The only difference is that you incorporate the cheese at the end!"
We asked Epstein when she likes to make this broccoli cheddar soup recipe, and her answer made us feel all warm and cozy inside. "I like serving this soup on cold winter days when it’s snowing outside and we just want to eat something comforting." She added there is a practical reason to serve up this soup, noting, "It’s also a great way to sneak broccoli into your family’s diet. Kids will only taste the cheese and be none the wiser."
You won’t need many ingredients to pull together this flavorful meal, but Epstein does recommend a certain kitchen accoutrement. "I love cooking soup in a Dutch oven because it just makes the food taste so much better," she told us, elaborating, "Dutch ovens disperse heat evenly for more consistent cooking." But she assures home cooks, "If you don’t have a Dutch oven, fear not! You can make this broccoli soup recipe with any kind of soup pot."
Shop for your broccoli cheddar soup recipe ingredients
Many of the ingredients needed for this yummy broccoli cheddar soup recipe you may already have on hand, like butter, sea salt, an onion, and seasonings such as cumin and mustard powder, as well as half and half and heavy whipping cream. You will also buy broccoli florets and carrots, plus sharp cheddar cheese — pre-shredded saves time!
As Epstein advises, white onion works best for her recipe. "I like using a white onion with a mild flavor." But she noted, "Spanish onions, white onions, or sweet onions would work well." We asked her if frozen or fresh veggies are preferable, and she told Mashed, "I used fresh broccoli and carrots for this recipe, but you can definitely use frozen vegetables and get good results."
So, in truth, you could really pull this recipe together with what you have around the kitchen. Perhaps a trip to the store isn’t even necessary! Especially if it’s a snow day — like when Epstein enjoys making this soup.
Sauté your onion for this broccoli cheddar soup recipe
Go ahead and preheat the oven to 400 degrees — later, you will be roasting half of the broccoli to make a flavorful garnish and add texture to your smooth, melt-in-your mouth broccoli cheddar soup recipe. For now, melt the butter in your Dutch oven or soup pot over medium to low heat. You will dice up your onion and add that to the melted butter along with some salt. Sauté the onions until they are cooked through. Epstein estimates this will take about seven minutes.
As you keep a close eye on the onion, chop your carrots for the next step of the process. Likewise, if you did not buy your broccoli already cut up into florets, prep that now. Remember to save half of the delicious green veggies for roasting. And, at this stage, you can grab your seasonings out of the pantry. Don’t have any cumin on hand? Consider substituting curry powder.
Add in your veggies for this broccoli cheddar soup recipe
Once your onions are cooked through, add half of the broccoli florets, the carrots, and cumin and mustard powder. We asked Epstein about why she chose to incorporate this last ingredient, and she explained to Mashed, "Mustard powder will enhance the flavor of the cheddar cheese. It’s my secret weapon whenever I cook with a yellow cheese like cheddar." But if do not have this seasoning on hand, Epstein told us, "While mustard powder is best, you could use some regular mustard."
Meanwhile, you will sauté your veggies and seasonings until the broccoli turns bright green — this will take about five minutes according to Epstein. Next, add the water and allow the soup to come up to a simmer. You will cook the veggies and water for about ten to 15 minutes, or until the carrots are nice and soft. And now, pull out your blender — it is time to purée your soup to a velvety texture.
Purée your broccoli cheddar soup recipe in a blender
Now, transfer your veggie mixture for this broccoli cheddar soup recipe to a blender and blend everything until it is nice and smooth. Then you will return the thick and temptingly delicious purée to your Dutch oven or soup pot on the stove top. There are only a few more ingredients, such as half and half, to add into the pot before your soup is ready to enjoy. Hold off on that step for a hot minute, because in the meantime, Epstein wants home cooks to turn their attention to the garnish for this soup, which is a mandatory step if you want to amp up the flavor.
While your soup is resting, grab the rest of those broccoli florets. You will also either shred your cheddar cheese, or if you bought the product pre-shredded, you just saved yourself a ton of time!
Roast broccoli for the garnish on this broccoli cheddar soup recipe
For the roasted broccoli florets in this broccoli cheddar soup recipe, put the remaining veggies on a foil-lined baking sheet (for super-easy cleanup) and season them with olive oil, salt, and pepper to taste. It won’t take long to roast your garnish, with Epstein recommending making the process even more simple by sliding your baking sheet into the toaster oven for ten minutes at 400 degrees. Of course, the oven works too.
We asked how exactly this step adds to the flavor of the broccoli cheddar soup, and Epstein told Mashed, "Roasting broccoli enhances the flavor by making it sweeter." This sounds like a delicious contrast with the savory cheese and layers of spice from the cumin and mustard powder. Plus, as you will see, the finished product looks so bright and colorful with the garnish, which also includes a smattering of shredded cheddar. In other words, your family or guests will be impressed with just a simple step.
Add in the final ingredients to your broccoli cheddar soup recipe
Finally, turn back to your soup on the stove and stir in the half and half, heavy whipping cream, and your cheddar cheese until combined and the cheese is melted into the soup. Epstein recommends seasoning the soup with pepper at this stage. Add more salt too, if desired.
Next, serve up your simple, savory soup into bowls. This is when you garnish each serving with the sweet roasted broccoli and some additional cheddar cheese. See — we told you it would look pretty and make your mouth start to water. Then, dig in!
And be sure to bookmark this deceptively easy broccoli cheddar soup recipe for future reference, since we know you will want to return to it again and again, whether it is cold and snowy outside, or if you simply need a quick, comforting meal on a busy day.