How to Make Copycat Panera Broccoli Cheddar Soup
This copycat Panera broccoli cheddar soup is the perfect comfort food. Serve it in a bread bowl for a filling meal.
Panera broccoli cheddar soup is one of my all-time favorite soups. It has just the right amount of broccoli, and each creamy, cheesy bite is as comforting as the last—especially when you’ve got the inside of a copycat Panera bread bowl to scoop out with every spoonful.
While it’s great to enjoy a bowl in the cafe, we here at Taste of Home know there’s nothing like a home-cooked meal—which is why we created a copycat Panera broccoli cheddar soup recipe. Now, you don’t need to leave the house to get this restaurant favorite.
Why We Love Panera Broccoli Cheddar Soup
This copycat Panera broccoli cheddar soup recipe is easy to make and tastes so much like the original. It’s warm, filling comfort food that works as a lunch, appetizer or dinner—just adjust the portion size. If you want to fully recreate the Panera experience like we did, you can make a bread bowl at home to serve it in. Or, pick up a fresh, crusty baguette from the store to serve on the side (or learn how to make a baguette!).
How to Make Panera’s Broccoli Cheddar Soup at Home
- 1/4 cup butter, cubed
- 1/2 cup chopped onion
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 4 cups fresh broccoli florets (about 8 ounces)
- 1 large carrot, finely chopped
- 3 cups chicken stock
- 2 cups half-and-half cream
- 2 bay leaves
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 1/4 cup cornstarch
- 1/4 cup water or additional chicken stock
- 2-1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
- 6 small round bread loaves (about 8 ounces each), optional
- Optional toppings: Crumbled cooked bacon, additional shredded cheddar cheese, ground nutmeg and pepper
Step 1: Saute onion and garlic
In a 6-qt. stockpot, heat butter over medium heat. Saute the onion and garlic until tender, about 6-8 minutes.
Step 2: Add vegetables, stock, cream and seasonings
Stir in the broccoli, carrot, stock, cream and seasonings and bring to a boil. Simmer, uncovered, until the vegetables are tender, about 10-12 minutes.
Step 3: Thicken the soup
Mix the cornstarch and water until smooth and stir the slurry into the soup. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Cook and stir until the soup is thickened, about 1-2 minutes. Remove the bay leaves. Stir in the cheese until melted.
Step 4: Prep and fill the bread bowls
If using bread bowls, cut a slice off the top of each loaf. Hollow out the bottoms, leaving 1/4-in. thick shells (save the removed bread for another use—here are some of our favorite ways to use leftover bread). Fill with soup just before serving.
Step 5: Add toppings
You can serve the soup as is, or add toppings like shredded cheddar cheese, freshly cracked pepper, ground nutmeg and crumbled bacon.
Tips for Making Copycat Panera Broccoli Cheddar Soup
Can you use frozen broccoli instead of fresh florets?
If you don’t have the space in the fridge for fresh broccoli, feel free to use a bag of frozen broccoli instead. Let the frozen broccoli thaw before you add it to the soup to avoid making the soup watery. Then, instead of adding it to the pot with the stock, cream and seasonings, add the broccoli after the cheese at the end, since it just needs to warm up.
How can you make copycat Panera broccoli cheddar soup your own?
There are a few easy ways you can adjust this copycat recipe to customize it to your tastes:
- Make it gluten-free by using cornstarch in place of the flour. Of course, don’t forget to skip the bread bowl as well.
- Add some heat with red pepper flakes.
- Make it thinner or thicker by using milk or heavy cream instead of the half-and-half.
- Swap in cauliflower for the broccoli. This will change the flavor of your soup, of course—but if you love cauliflower, you may find you like this even better than the broccoli.
How should you store Panera broccoli cheddar soup?
This copycat Panera broccoli cheddar soup should last 4 to 5 days in the fridge when stored in an airtight container. When you’re ready for more, you can reheat it in the microwave or on the stovetop. Stir often so the cheese and cream don’t burn on the bottom of the bowl or pot.