If you love broccoli cheddar soup, you’ll love this lightened-up version! It features a sneaky healthy ingredient to help thicken it up, while using less cheese, but you’d never know just by tasting it.
This soup reminds me of the kind I used to get at Panera Bread®, but it’s made without flour, heavy cream, or too much cheese. And I’m pretty sure this recipe packs more broccoli into each bite, too!
It’s the kind of soup you want to cozy up with on a cold, rainy day. It’s creamy and comforting, without leaving you with a heavy feeling later.
Ingredients You’ll Need
What’s in healthy broccoli cheddar soup?
- Broccoli (use fresh or frozen)
- White beans
- Cheddar cheese
- Salt & black pepper
Instead of using white flour to make a roux (which thickens a traditional broccoli cheddar soup) we are going to blend an entire can of white beans into the broth of this soup. This adds texture, but you would never know there are beans in this soup just by tasting it.
Plus, you’ll get extra fiber and plant-based protein in each bite! I also like to blend a 1/2 cup of cashews into this soup for added creaminess (instead of using heavy cream), but that’s optional if you need a nut-free soup.
In fact, you hardly need to add cheese to this soup at all, thanks to these extra add-ins. If you need a vegan soup, feel free to leave out the cheese, or swap it for a dairy-free alternative.
How to Make Healthy Broccoli Cheddar Soup
Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat, and saute the onion until it starts to soften, about 5 minutes. Add in the garlic, and stir briefly until it’s fragrant, about 1 more minute.
Drain and rinse a can of white beans, then add them to a blender. Add in 4 cups of water, and a 1/2 cup of cashews (if using), and blend until totally smooth.
Pour the liquid into the large pot as soon as the garlic has been sauteed, to help prevent it from burning.
Add the broccoli, carrot, salt and pepper to the pot, and bring the liquid to a boil. As soon as it is boiling, lower the heat and cover the pot.
Let the soup gently simmer until the broccoli is very tender, about 20 to 25 minutes.
4. Blend again.
When the broccoli is fork-tender, transfer roughly 3 cups of the soup to a blender. Be sure to grab any large pieces of broccoli you see, so there won’t be huge chunks of broccoli in the soup.
Pulse the broccoli briefly in the blender, to help the pieces break down, but you don’t want it totally pureed. A little texture is a good thing in this soup!
5. Serve warm.
Return the blended soup to the pot, and add in the shredded cheese. Stir briefly, until the cheese is melted and incorporated in the soup. Adjust any seasoning to taste, adding more salt or a splash of lemon juice, to help brighten it up. I like to add a tiny pinch of nutmeg to this soup, for an extra layer of flavor.
Then serve warm, with any toppings you love, like extra cheese or chopped fresh herbs.
Substitutions & Common Questions
Which cheese works best? Use an extra-sharp cheddar cheese for the most flavor, but you can also use goat cheese if you find that easier to digest, or any other variety you like.
Typically, you’ll get the smoothest results by using a block of cheese that you have to shred at home. Shredded cheese that you would buy at the store is usually coated in starch to help prevent it clumping in the bag, which can add a gritty texture to recipes.
Can I skip the cheese? Yes, it’s probably the easiest ingredient to leave out of this recipe. You may want to add a little extra salt or a teaspoon of lemon juice, in that case, to help boost the flavor.
Can I use cauliflower instead? Yes, you can make cauliflower cheese soup instead of broccoli cheese soup, if that’s what you have on hand. It’s delicious either way.
What if I don’t have beans? You could replace the can of beans in this recipe with 1 pound of blended, steamed cauliflower instead. It won’t have the exact same texture this way, but it should work Or, you could add an extra 1/2 cup of cashews to this recipe, to achieve a similar creaminess.
Healthy Broccoli Cheddar Soup
- 1 Tablespoon olive oil
- 1/2 yellow onion , chopped
- 2 cloves garlic , minced
- 4 cups water
- 1 (15 oz.) can white beans , rinsed and drained
- 1/2 cup raw cashews (optional, but recommended)
- 1 pound broccoli florets , chopped (about 10 cups)
- 1 large carrot , shredded (about 1 cup)
- Salt & black pepper , to taste
- 4 ounces extra sharp cheddar cheese , shredded (1 cup)
- Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium high heat, and saute the onion until it starts to soften, about 5 minutes. Add in the garlic and stir briefly, just until fragrant, about 1 more minute.
- Add the drained beans to a blender, along with the water and cashews (if using). Blend until very smooth, then immediately add it to the pot, so the garlic won't burn.
- Add in the broccoli and shredded carrot, along with 2 teaspoons of salt and a 1/2 teaspoon of ground black pepper. Bring the liquid to a boil.
- Once the liquid is boiling, lower the heat and cover with a lid. Let the soup gently simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the broccoli is very tender.
- Transfer roughly 3 cups of the soup to a blender, making sure to grab any large pieces of broccoli, so there won't be large chunks in the soup. Blend briefly, pulsing the broccoli into smaller pieces, but not blending until it's totally pureed. You want some texture in this soup! (Alternatively, you can use an immersion blender to blend directly in the soup pot.)
- Return the blended soup back to the pot, then add in the shredded cheese. Stir briefly, just until the cheese has melted, then adjust any seasoning to taste. I usually add in more salt, just a 1/4 teaspoon at a time, until the soup is extra flavorful.
- Serve warm with any extra toppings you love, like extra cheese or a pinch of nutmeg. Leftover soup can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.
If you try this healthy broccoli cheddar soup recipe, please leave a comment and star rating below, letting me know how you like it.
Questions and Reviews
Megan — YUM!!! I used to love to get Broc/Cheddar soup at TGIFriday’s when I was in high school.
WOW! This looks like a great winter soup (it is 115 degrees here right now) I can’t wait for it to cool off here so I can try it!
P.S. I made the almond milk for the first time the other day, I don’t ever need to buy it again. It is so quick & easy to make!
Thank you for all the great recipes!
Yes, 115 degrees is WAY to hot for any soup!! It’s oddly cool here in So Cal this week– I’ve been wearing a jacket to walk my pup! Hope it cools down for you soon!
And YAY for homemade almond milk! Isn’t it the best?!
Bookmarking this one to make asap! Very cool!!
I just mad e some broccoli potato soup using adaptations from your recipe. Broccoli, onion, celery, garlic, potato, thyme, rosemary, parsley, cayenne pepper, basil, and it was all cooked on coconut oil. First i sauteed the onion and one clove of garlic (sliced long and thin). Then I put in the celery (also thinly sliced) and sauteed that too, finally adding in the 4 cups of broccoli. I Simmered that in 1 inch of water while boiling two chopped up red potatoes. When the broccoli was defrosted I turned the fire off, poured the contents of the pan into our blender and added one clove of garlic. Once the ingredients were smooth I poured then back into the pan and cooked it down after adding the spices. I also made mashed potatoes with organic dairy free butter! It is spectacular!
Thanks for the inspiration. Grace
What are your thoughts on using Daiya cheese in this instead of goat cheese?
Hmmm… I’ve never tried it! If you like the flavor of the Daiya cheese, I bet you’d like it in this! I’ve heard that Daiya melts like real cheese, so it should work texture-wise.
Let us know if you give it a shot!
Great recipe and one of my favs! Any thoughts about adding white beans when the broccoli/veggies cook down? I am a huge fan of adding white bean wherever and whenever I can to compensate for creaminess. Do you think it would work?
Yes, I think that would work just fine!
Hey, I was wondering if you’ve ever frozen this soup or any soups? I’d love to make a big batch of different kinds of soups and have them ready for whenever I need them…. I’ve frozen vegetable soup, but it didn’t have broccoli in it… And also, how much of the nutrients are taken out of it to pressure can a soup?
I haven’t tried freezing this particular soup, but other soups have frozen and thawed perfectly well! I imagine this one would, too. I’ve never looked into pressure-canning, so I couldn’t tell you about that! I would think there would still be plenty of nutrients left to make it worth while, even if some are lost in the storage process.
This is a great recipe! I made it for the first time a few weeks ago and have made it several times since. Simple, easy, and good!
I have read a few of your recipes that call for cheese made from goat’s milk (which I understand to be more digestable than cow’s milk). I like the idea of it BUT I really do not like the taste of goat’s cheese. Does the goat’s milk cheddar have a “goat-y” flavor? If yes, is it mild?
This is my favorite soup right now. I make it with chicken stock instead of water and the longer it sits in the refrigerator the better it gets.I have made it once a week for the last three weeks. Thank you for all the great recipes 🙂
I’ve just tryied the soup. It’s delicious 🙂 All the best from rainy UK. Hope to try many more recipes soon.
Would you happen to have the supplement facts for any of your products
Made this today and I am pressure canning it. Decided to add the cheese when serving though. Looks like it will can just fine…..
Hi, going to try this recipe tomorrow night! I had a question regarding the broccoli (4 stalks (heads?) broccoli (about 4-5 cups of chopped florets, plus stems). Could you clarify what you mean by “plus stems”? All of the stems/base of the broccoli or just some which would be included when cutting into florets.
Thanks! Love all your recipes 🙂
Any substitution ideas for the cheese? Hubby can’t do dairy. We’re adding the cheese to ours, but not sure what to do to his? Thank you! Love this soup!!!
You could add a sprinkling of nutritional yeast? It has a nice “cheesy” flavor for those who have to be dairy-free. Otherwise I’d just add a touch more salt to his portion to account for the lack of saltiness from the cheese.
I’ve made this soup a couple times! Yummy way to get broccoli in the diet! Megan, could this recipe be used in a crock pot? If so, how long do you think it should be cooked? Thanks!!
My husband and I enjoyed this soup on a chilly tonight. It is amazingly delicious and so easy to make! I would highly recommend. I added a can of camellia beans with the cheese to add some additional protein.
Delicious! Made this soup today and we loved it. I didn’t have cashews so I used a little oat milk. Definitely will make it again.
Wow, this is the best broccoli cheddar soup I’ve ever made. I can’t believe it came from my kitchen! You can’t taste the white beans at all.
So delicious! I made it chunky, we finished the whole pot.
This recipe is amazing! My whole family loved it, including some picky eaters who don’t like broccoli. I love the extra fiber and protein is added with white beans – genius!
I love this soup! Added Veggie stock, Worcestershire sauce, and some thyme
This is a fall/winter favorite. A couple pulses with an immersion blender gives it the perfect texture.
Made this tonight and it is another winner. Incredibly easy and delicious! I made this exactly as written and this will another one in my rotation.
Would love to try this. Can I use frozen brocolli?
Yes, I think frozen broccoli is such a time saver for this! I hope you’ll love it.
We LOVE this soup! So easy to make and full of protein! Thanks again for another great recipe!
Let me first say that this was my first time making any soup besides chicken noodle, so I was not confident in my skills. My boyfriend is not a soup guy but he LOVES broccoli cheddar, so I decided to try this recipe. I followed it exactly, only omitting the shredded carrot since I am not a fan. I am thrilled to say it was a massive hit!! He loved it and so did I! 🙂 Thank you for the perfect chilly weather soup recipe! ❤️
Have made this a few times now and it is my new favorite go to for cheesy broccoli soup. So awesome that one doesn’t need flour to make it thick. Very flavorful!
We love this soup! It’s so easy and full of great protein! Thanks again for another FANTASTIC recipe!
Delicious and cozy! Tasted just as good as, if not better than, a heavy cream-filled version. Will make this again!
Love this recipe! We add a little chickpea miso instead of the cheese (also add the lemon juice). Love that it doesn’t call for broth which is expensive these days.
Thank you so much for this recipe! It was SUPER easy to make and came together so quickly! Loved the combination of white beans and raw cashews for creaminess as opposed to adding cream. I opted for a cheddar style goat cheese since my husband doesn’t tolerate dairy well and it turned out perfect!
This soup is sooo good! The white bean/cashew mixture is magic! It creates such a creamy texture! Yum thank you for this recipe!
Hello, I love your recipe and will definitely try it. I only need to know what can I substitute the cashews with and in what proportions? It could be other nuts or? My granddaughter is allergic to cashews and I can’t want to bring it home. A second question: is do red kidney bean bring creaminess as the white ones do?
Probably the most lacking recipe I’ve ever come across. You pour in salt at an alarmingly unhealthy rate in order to taste something. Without the large amount of cheese it’s watery and boring. With the cheese it’s creamier and boring. I had to add in soya sauce and a little Sriracha sauce to make it edible. This could be much improved by using stock instead of water and adding some herbs and spices. The true salt level per portion is nearer to 60% of recommended daily intake than the figure you quote. Very disappointed.
Easy to make and tasted oh so good!
This is such a hearty, comforting, delicious recipe. I ended up boosting the veggies (added some yellow pepper and zucchini) but kept everything else the same. Loved adding cheese plus a little nutritional yeast at the end. Highly recommend!