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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.

soup going into bowl of broccoli cheddar soup.

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

healthy broccoli soup ingredients in glass bowls.

What’s in healthy broccoli cheddar soup?

  • Broccoli (use fresh or frozen)
  • Onion
  • Garlic
  • Carrots
  • 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

1. Saute.

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.

beans and water blended together.

2. Blend.

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.

broccoli and carrots simmered in soup pot.

3. Simmer.

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.

broccoli pieces blended in blender pitcher.

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!

cheese added to soup and served on ladle.

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.

broccoli cheddar soup served with shredded cheese on top.

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.

broccoli cheddar soup lifted up on ladle.

broccoli cheddar soup in a white soup mug.

Healthy Broccoli Cheddar Soup

4.83 from 29 votes
This broccoli cheddar soup recipe is made without white flour or heavy cream, but you'd never know just by tasting it! It's creamy and comforting, with extra fiber and protein in each bite.
prep10 mins cook30 mins total40 mins


  • 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.


Nutrition information is for 1 of 4 servings, or approximately 1 1/2 cups of soup. (Assuming you get 6 cups of soup from this recipe.) This is automatically calculated, and is just an estimate, not a guarantee.
For a vegan and dairy-free soup, omit the cheese and add a teaspoon of lemon juice and extra salt, to taste. You can add a pinch of nutritional yeast, if you'd like an extra cheesy flavor, too.


Calories: 290kcal | Carbohydrates: 17g | Protein: 13g | Fat: 21g | Saturated Fat: 7g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 9g | Cholesterol: 28mg | Sodium: 250mg | Potassium: 572mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 3998IU | Vitamin C: 104mg | Calcium: 279mg | Iron: 2mg
Course: Soup
Cuisine: American
Keyword: healthy broccoli cheddar soup

If you try this healthy broccoli cheddar soup recipe, please leave a comment and star rating below, letting me know how you like it.

Megan Gilmore leaning on her white countertop.

Megan Gilmore

Hi, I’m Megan. A former fast food junkie turned best-selling cookbook author. I create healthy recipes made with simple ingredients to make your life easier.

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  1. I’m in love with this soup. I’ve made it a few times now and it’s not getting any less awesome. My son and I were practically fighting over the leftovers the other day. I definitely recommend an immersion blender if you have one once the soup is done rather than transferring it to the blender. It saves so much time and mess. So easy and so comforting.

  2. Excellent! I didn’t have cashews on hand so used a spoonful of cashew butter instead and it turned out very yummy indeed.

  3. With all the simple ingredients in this recipe, it’s surprising how delicious and tasty this soup is. Had leftovers today! Yippee! Thanks so much!

  4. This was delicious and packed with veggies. We added shredded chicken at the end, which meant the soup needed more water. It was a huge hit. Highly recommend!

  5. I made a few adjustments: doubled the garlic, swapped out bone broth for the water, used ~3 TBS nutritional yeast with a squeeze of lemon. This was comforting and filling!

    I appreciate how easily adaptable your recipes are (I’ve mastered the gluten free and reduced sugar cooking for myself, now to the dairy free/low dairy for my husband. Surprisingly, he has enjoyed every detoxinista recipe I have tried. I appreciate you simplifying nutritious foods that also cater to various diets! As always, thanks for what you do!!