This one pot, weeknight friendly Light & Healthy Broccoli Cheddar is packed full of fiber rich veggies...
When my son was younger, he pretty much refused to eat any vegetable that was green. It didn't matter how I prepared it or tried to hide it, the second that he saw a hint of green he would scoff and turn his nose up at it.
But that all changed the day he had Broccoli Cheddar Soup from Panera for the first time. I am not sure what made him try it that day, but he was hooked... and he was eating broccoli, folks!
I wasn't going to question it. ;)
There are tons of copycat recipes floating around out there for Panera's Broccoli Cheddar soup, so what makes my version so special? Because A. It is 100% vegetarian. B. No cornstarch or flour was used to thicken this soup thanks to my secret fiber rich ingredient. & C. Despite all of these healthier changes I made to this beloved recipe, my son was clueless. He gobbled down a bowl of this, exclaimed how much it tasted like Panera's, and then went back for seconds...
Light & Healthy Broccoli Cheddar Soup
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Ingredients (6 servings)
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1/2 large onion, chopped
- 1 cup shredded carrots
- 1 (15.5) oz can cannellini beans, pureed with liquids
- 32 oz carton of vegetable broth (or 4 cups)
- 1 cup fat free half & half
- 2 crowns of fresh broccoli, chopped & quickly steamed
- 1 tbsp butter
- 2 cups shredded sharp cheddar
- 1/4 tsp nutmeg
- salt & pepper, to taste
Pour about a 1/4 inch of water in a large pot or dutch oven and bring to a boil. Once boiling, add the chopped broccoli crowns and place a lid on the pot. Steam for 3-4 minutes. Drain the broccoli into a colander and then set aside. Rinse out the pot.
Heat the olive oil in the same large pot or dutch oven. Once heated, add the onion and saute for 3-4 minutes until soft. Add in the shredded carrots and saute for another 1-2 minutes.
Pour in the vegetable broth, and then whisk in the half & half. Turn the heat down to a simmer. Whisk in the pureed cannellini beans (I used my food processor to quickly puree them). Continue to simmer for 15 minutes.
While the soup is simmering, finely chop about half of the broccoli in a food processor. Add the finely chopped and the larger pieces of the steamed broccoli to the soup. Continue simmering for another 5 minutes.
Remove the soup from the heat and stir in the butter, nutmeg, and shredded sharp cheddar cheese until the cheese is completely melted. Taste the soup and then season with salt & pepper if necessary.
Ladle into bowls and serve.
Adapted from this recipe for Copycat Panera Broccoli Cheese Soup from The Recipe Critic.
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Just a few notes on this recipe-
- I used pureed cannellini beans in this soup to thicken it instead of using a flour roux or cornstarch. It worked like a charm, and I was able to sneak in some fiber rich & healthy beans as a bonus. You could certainly use a different creamy bean in this like white kidney beans.
- To sneak in even more veggie goodness, I used vegetable broth in this. But a low sodium or homemade chicken broth would work just as well.
- I gave my food processor a work out for this recipe, but it made quick work of this homemade soup. First, I used it to shred the carrots. Then I used it to puree the beans. And lastly, to finely chop half of the steamed broccoli. I just rinsed out the bowl and blade between each use.
- You can omit the tablespoon of butter in the end if you would like, but I found it gave it just the right amount of buttery richness to finish off this soup.
What is your favorite way to sneak in extra veggies into yours and your family's everyday diets? :)
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