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This creamy, but lightened up Broccoli Cheese Soup recipe is a perfect choice for this time of year. It makes for a quick and easy meal and it is seriously crave-worthy!
As much as I love them, I try to stay away from soups with a cream base. There are some people who live in this house who are not afraid of cream and LOVE Broccoli Cheese Soup. These people I speak of also swim about 3 hours a day and have teeny, tiny waistlines.
My version makes us all happy.
In fact, I like this homemade version better than any broccoli soup I’ve ordered at restaurants. Yep, I’m lookin’ at you, Panera.
How to Lighten Up a Cream Based Soup
I’ve reduced the amount of heavy cream called for in this recipe to just 1/2 cup with just 1 cup of whole milk. This is far less than most recipes call for. If you’d like to reduce the fat content even further, go ahead and omit the heavy cream altogether and go with all whole milk.
The ratio of veggies to the dairy is important as well. I want this soup to have a prominent broccoli base. The cream/milk and cheese should only enhance that. Pureed veggies on their own do a lot to add creaminess and structure to soup.
Yes, there is still cheese. You can’t have Broccoli Cheese Soup without cheese and I’m not a fan of the reduced fat variety. So, while you can’t exactly call this a lowfat recipe, it’s definitely a far lighter version than the standard. The best part is that you’d never know it by the taste. It’s creamy, rich, and wonderful!
The true test is putting in front of the guys in my house and watching it disappear.
How to Make Broccoli Cheese Soup
It’s quick. It’s easy. And, it’s all done in one pot on the stove.
Melt 3 tablespoons butter in a Dutch oven and add diced onion. Cook and stir for a few minutes until the onions have softened. Add the minced garlic. Continue to cook for just a minute or two.
Add flour and cook, stirring, for a couple minutes.
Slowly whisk in low-sodium chicken broth. Turn the heat under the pan to medium-high and cook, stirring, until the mixture comes to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and let it simmer for 2 or 3 minutes to allow the mixture to thicken slightly.
Add the broccoli florets, cover the pot and simmer on low for 25 minutes, or until the broccoli is very tender.
Puree the mixture using an immersion blender.
I love my Cuisinart Immersion Blender but don’t fret if you don’t have one. This can also be done by transferring the mixture, in batches, to a food processor or blender and then returning the mixture to the pot.
Reduce the heat to low and add the whole milk and heavy cream. Heat for about 5 minutes or till warmed through.
Finally, in goes the cheese. Allow the soup to simmer, stirring occasionally, until the cheese has completed melted and then season to taste with a little salt and pepper.
What Kind of Cheese is Best for Broccoli Cheese Soup?
I highly recommend you go with a good quality sharp cheddar. I love Tillamook which I pick up at Costco every couple of weeks but any good quality sharp cheddar will do the trick. I also add a little Velveeta. Don’t be afraid, Velveeta is magic. Trust me. It is a fabulous melting cheese and it adds a really familiar and comforting flavor. The soup just wouldn’t be the same without it.
There’s something really special about serving this soup in a bread bowl and they are readily available at most grocery stores. I like to save the piece I cut from the top to serve along with the soup for dipping.
For more chilly weather soup inspiration be sure to check out these favorites:
This post was originally published on March 24, 2012. It has been updated with new images.
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Broccoli Cheese Soup
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 1 cup onion diced
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
- 16 ounces fresh broccoli florets
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 1 cup sharp cheddar cheese shredded, plus additional for garnish if desired
- 4 ounces Velveeta cheese cubed
- 1/2 teaspoon salt or to taste
- Fresh ground pepper to taste
- In a Dutch oven, melt butter over medium heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring for a few minutes, or until onions are soft and translucent. Add the garlic and cook and stir for another minute. Add the flour and cook for 2 minutes. Slowly pour in the chicken broth, whisking as you add it. Turn up heat to medium-high and and cook the mixture until it comes to a boil, whisking occasionally. Reduce heat to low and simmer for about 2 or 3 minutes until it begins to thicken. Add the broccoli and place the cover on the Dutch oven. Cook for 25 minutes or until broccoli is very tender.
- Remove the pot from the heat and puree the mixture with an immersion blender or in batches in a blender or food processor, returning to Dutch oven when you reach the desired consistency. I like to leave some small pieces of broccoli for a little texture.
- Return the pot to the stove and over low heat, add the milk and cream and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the cheddar and Velveeta cheese and cook and stir until cheese is completely melted. Add salt and taste. Season with additional salt, if needed, and pepper to taste.
- Serve with additional shredded cheese on the side for garnish.