In the symphony of comforting meals, the warmth of Broccoli Cheddar Soup Recipe holds a place of honor. Every spoonful whispers the tale of harmony between verdant broccoli and creamy cheddar, transforming ordinary ingredients into a culinary masterpiece.
The journey begins with the humble, vibrant green florets, their natural freshness being the heart of our dish. In all its melted glory, the luxurious cheddar complements the broccoli, crafting a rich tapestry of flavors that pleases the palate.
Diving into this soup is a voyage to the heart of home cooking, where simple ingredients hold the power to create exquisite experiences. Perfect for chilly days or just when you need that bowl of comfort, our soup recipe is a testament to the magic hidden in our kitchens.
This story, crafted bite by bite, invites you to explore the art of soup-making, one delectable spoonful at a time. Today, we unravel the secrets behind the Broccoli Cheddar Soup. Let’s embark on this delicious adventure.
What Is Broccoli Cheddar Soup?
Broccoli Cheddar Soup is a comforting, creamy dish made by blending cooked broccoli and sharp cheddar cheese, often accompanied by onions and garlic for depth of flavor. The velvety, cheesy base envelops the lightly cooked broccoli, producing a wonderfully rich and warming soup.
Traditionally, it’s pureed for a smooth texture, but some versions leave chunks of broccoli for added bite. This soup is a classic in American cuisine, known for its richness, and a staple in homes and restaurants.
History Of Broccoli Cheddar Soup
The history of Broccoli Cheddar Soup is an amalgamation of culinary traditions. Broccoli, brought to America by Italian immigrants, became widely popular in the US during the 1920s.
Cheddar, originating from the English village of Cheddar in Somerset, has been a beloved cheese for centuries. The melding of these two main ingredients into a soup likely originated in America, inspired by European cooking techniques that favor cream-based soups.
Over time, it’s become a classic dish in American comfort cuisine, widely popular for its rich, creamy texture and satisfying combination of fresh vegetables and sharp cheese.
Interesting Facts About Broccoli Cheddar Soup
- Multicultural Origins: Broccoli Cheddar Soup is a fusion of ingredients from different cultures. Broccoli comes from Italy, while cheddar cheese is British. The soup itself likely originated in the U.S., demonstrating a wonderful confluence of global culinary traditions.
- Nutritional Benefits: Despite its creamy decadence, Broccoli Cheddar Soup can be a good source of nutrients. Broccoli is rich in fiber, vitamin C, and antioxidants, while cheddar cheese adds protein and calcium to the mix.
- Variety of Cheeses: While cheddar is traditionally used, many variations of the soup experiment with different types of cheese like Gouda or Gruyère, bringing out a new flavor profile to each kind.
- Culinary Balance: The soup is a perfect balance of flavors and textures. The cheddar’s sharpness contrasts beautifully with broccoli’s subtle sweetness, while the vegetable’s slight crunch offsets the soup’s creaminess.
- Versatility: It can be served in various ways. Some enjoy it as a main dish, while others prefer it as a side or an appetizer. It’s also a popular soup in bread bowls at eateries like Panera Bread.
What Makes Broccoli Cheddar Soup Recipe Special?
- Comforting Fusion: This soup melds the fresh, earthy crunch of broccoli with the sharp, creamy richness of cheddar cheese. The marriage of these two seemingly disparate ingredients creates a beautifully balanced, comforting dish.
- Versatility: The recipe is adaptable. It can be made lighter or richer depending on the ingredients used, and other elements such as bacon, spices, or different types of cheese can be added for variation.
- Accessibility: The ingredients are commonly found in many kitchens, making this a go-to recipe for a hearty home-cooked meal.
- Texture Play: The soup’s texture adds to its specialty. Depending on preference, it can be made chunky or smooth, offering a delightful sensory experience.
- Nutritional Value: Despite its creamy indulgence, it packs a good deal of nutrients, with broccoli bringing vitamins and fiber and cheese providing protein and calcium.
- Satisfaction: It’s a complete meal in a bowl, offering satisfaction in every spoonful. Its ability to warm up cold days and soothe the soul is what truly makes this recipe special.
|Unsalted butter||1/4 cup|
|Garlic, minced||2 cloves|
|All-purpose flour||1/4 cup|
|Chicken or vegetable broth||4 cups|
|Fresh broccoli florets||4 cups|
|Shredded cheddar cheese||2 cups|
|Whole milk||1 cup|
|Dried thyme||1/2 teaspoon|
- Broccoli: Opt for fresh broccoli over frozen for the best flavor. The stalks are just as flavorful as the florets, so don’t discard them! Make sure to wash the broccoli thoroughly before cooking.
- Cheese: Sharp or extra-sharp cheddar lends the soup a robust flavor. Always grate your cheese from a block rather than buying pre-shredded cheese, which often contains anti-caking agents that can affect the soup’s creaminess.
- Cream: Full-fat cream adds richness to the soup, but you can substitute it with half-and-half or even whole milk for a lighter version.
- Stock: Choose low-sodium vegetable or chicken stock, which allows you to control the soup’s saltiness better. Homemade stock will elevate the flavor even more.
- Onion and Garlic: These are essential for adding depth of flavor. Be sure not to burn them when sautéing, as it can lend a bitter taste to your soup.
- Spices: Nutmeg pairs beautifully with creamy soups and can give your broccoli cheddar soup an extra layer of flavor. Be sure to use it sparingly.
- Thickener: Some recipes call for flour to thicken the soup, but you can also use cornstarch or arrowroot for a gluten-free alternative.
- Seasoning: Remember to taste your soup as you cook, adjusting the seasoning with salt and pepper to suit your preference.
Can You Vary The Recipe With Other Ingredients?
- Protein: Add chicken, bacon, or shrimp to the soup for added protein.
- Vegetables: Additional veggies like carrots, celery, or bell peppers can also be included for extra texture and flavor.
- Cheese Varieties: Experiment with different types of cheese. Smoked Gouda, Gruyère, or Pepper Jack can introduce new flavors.
- Spices and Herbs: For a flavor twist, add spices such as cayenne pepper for heat or herbs like thyme or rosemary.
- Vegan/Dairy-Free: Substitute the dairy with plant-based alternatives. Nutritional yeast and cashews can give the soup a creamy texture and cheesy flavor, while coconut milk can add richness.
- Grains: Add cooked grains like quinoa or wild rice for added heartiness.
- In a large pot, melt the unsalted butter over medium heat.
- Add the chopped onion and minced garlic to the pot and sauté until the onion becomes translucent and fragrant.
- Sprinkle the all-purpose flour over the onions and garlic, stirring well to coat them evenly. Cook for a minute or two to cook off the raw flour taste.
- Slowly pour in the vegetable broth or chicken; stirring continuously to avoid lumps.
- Add the fresh broccoli florets to the pot and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat and let it simmer until the broccoli becomes tender for about 10-12 minutes.
- Using an immersion blender or regular blender, puree the soup until it reaches your desired consistency. Be careful when blending hot liquids.
- Return the pot to low heat and stir in the shredded cheddar cheese until melted and smooth.
- Pour in the whole milk and dried thyme, and continue stirring until the soup is heated through.
- Season with salt and pepper to taste. Adjust the seasoning as needed.
- Remove it from the heat once the soup is well combined and heated.
- If desired, serve the broccoli cheddar soup hot, garnished with additional shredded cheddar cheese.
Variations, Add-Ons, And Toppings
- Vegan/Dairy-Free Version: Substitute dairy with plant-based milk and cheese. Use nutritional yeast or a cashew blend for the cheesy flavor. Replace butter with olive oil or a vegan butter alternative.
- Creamier Version: Use heavy cream instead of milk for a richer, more decadent soup.
- Spicy Version: Add a dash of cayenne pepper, crushed red pepper flakes, or even jalapenos to spice it up.
- Seafood Version: Add cooked shrimp or crab for a unique spin.
- Proteins: Cooked chicken, bacon, or ham can be added for a protein boost.
- Vegetables: More veggies like carrots, celery, or bell peppers can be added for extra texture and flavor.
- Cheese Varieties: Experiment with different types of cheese like Gouda, Monterey Jack, or Gruyère.
- Grains: You can also add cooked grains like quinoa or wild rice for added heartiness.
- Extra Cheese: A sprinkle of extra shredded cheddar on top never hurts.
- Fresh Herbs: Chopped parsley, chives, or green onions add a pop of color and freshness.
- Croutons: Homemade or store-bought croutons provide a delightful crunch.
- Bacon Bits: For a salty, smoky touch, sprinkle some cooked, crumbled bacon on top.
- Sour Cream or Greek Yogurt: A dollop of sour cream or Greek yogurt can add a tangy contrast to the rich soup.
Scaling The Recipe
To scale the broccoli cheddar soup recipe based on your desired serving size, you can easily adjust the quantities of the ingredients. If you want to make more servings, multiply all the ingredient quantities by the same factor.
For example, if you’re going to double the recipe, multiply each ingredient by 2. On the other hand, if you want to make fewer servings, divide all the ingredient quantities by the same factor.
For instance, if you’re going to halve the recipe, divide each ingredient by 2. This way, you can maintain the proportions and achieve the desired taste.
Just remember also to consider adjusting the cooking time accordingly based on the size of the recipe. Enjoy your perfectly scaled-up or scaled-down broccoli cheddar soup!
What Is Used For Garnishing ?
- Extra Cheese: A sprinkle of extra shredded cheddar cheese on top looks great and melts into the hot soup, adding an extra layer of cheesy goodness.
- Fresh Herbs: Fresh herbs such as parsley, chives, or thyme add a pop of color and a hint of freshness that contrasts nicely with the rich, creamy soup.
- Croutons: Croutons add a contrasting crunch and can be plain or flavored with herbs and spices.
- Bacon Bits: If you’re a meat eater, crumbled bacon bits can add a smoky, salty element that pairs well with the soup.
- Sour Cream or Greek Yogurt: A small dollop of sour cream or Greek yogurt can add a tangy element and a creamy contrast in color.
- Freshly Cracked Black Pepper: A little sprinkling of freshly cracked black pepper can add both a visual element and a slight heat.
- Drizzle of Olive Oil: A small drizzle of high-quality extra virgin olive oil can add a bit of sheen and richness.
Can I Make Soup In A Slow Cooker Or Instant Pot?
- Place the broccoli, chopped onion, minced garlic, and chicken or vegetable broth into the slow cooker. Cover and cook on high for 3-4 hours or low for 6-8 hours.
- Once the broccoli is tender, blend the soup to your preferred consistency using an immersion blender.
- Stir in the shredded cheddar cheese, milk, and seasonings. Replace the cover and let it cook on high for an additional 15 minutes or until the cheese is completely melted.
- Set the Instant Pot to the sauté mode. Melt the butter, then add the chopped onion and minced garlic, sautéing until the onion is translucent.
- Add the broccoli and broth. Secure the lid and set the Instant Pot to high pressure for 5 minutes. After cooking, quickly release the pressure according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
- Carefully remove the lid and use an immersion blender to blend the soup to your desired consistency.
- Set the Instant Pot back to sauté mode. Stir in the shredded cheese, milk, and seasonings, cooking just until the cheese is melted.
Can I Use Store Broth Or Should I Make My Own ?
- Store-Bought Broth: This is a convenient and time-saving option. When selecting a store-bought broth, opt for a low-sodium version. This allows you to control the salt content of your soup better. Also, look for broths with minimal added preservatives or artificial flavors to keep your soup as natural as possible.
- Homemade Broth: Making your own broth can be more time-consuming, but it allows for complete control over the ingredients and flavors. Homemade broths can be richer and deeper in flavor compared to store-bought ones. You can also make large batches and freeze it in portions for future use.
Can I Use Different Types Of Fish/Meat/Pasta/Vegetables ?
- Proteins: Add cooked, diced chicken, ham, or turkey. For a seafood twist, cooked shrimp or flaked white fish could be added after the blending step to keep them intact.
- Pasta: Small types of pasta such as ditalini, small shells, or orzo can be added to the soup for additional heartiness. Just be sure to cook the pasta separately and add it at the end to prevent it from becoming too soft.
- Vegetables: You could add other vegetables such as carrots, celery, bell peppers, or peas. Just chop them finely and add them along with the broccoli.
Success Tips And Tricks For The Recipe
- Use fresh broccoli florets for the best flavor and texture.
- Gradually add the broth while stirring to prevent lumps.
- Blend the soup to your desired consistency for a smooth texture.
- Slowly melt the cheese to ensure a creamy and well-incorporated soup.
- Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper to enhance the flavors.
- Plan Ahead: Gather all your ingredients before you start cooking. This includes chopping veggies, grating cheese, and measuring out liquids and spices.
- Quality Ingredients: Use fresh broccoli for the best flavor. If using cheese, opt for block cheese and grate it yourself, as pre-shredded cheese can have anti-caking agents that affect the soup’s creaminess.
- Flavor Layering: Sautéing the onions and garlic before adding the other ingredients allows them to release their flavors, adding depth to the soup.
- Even Chopping: Try to chop your broccoli (and any other vegetables you might add) into even pieces. This ensures they all cook at the same rate.
Cooking Time Tips
- Don’t Rush: Allow adequate time for the soup to simmer; this helps the flavors meld together and the broccoli to soften properly.
- Monitor Thickness: Keep an eye on your soup’s thickness. If it’s too thick, add a bit more broth or milk; if it’s too thin, allow it to cook a bit longer.
- Cheese Melting: Add the cheese in gradually while stirring to ensure it melts evenly and doesn’t clump.
- Final Heating: Once the dairy is added, be careful not to let the soup boil, which can cause the dairy to curl. Heat just enough to melt the cheese and make the soup hot.
- Taste and Adjust: Taste the soup before serving and adjust the seasonings if needed. This is your final chance to add a bit more salt, pepper, or herbs to perfect your soup.
The nutritional values of the broccoli cheddar soup recipe can provide a general idea of its composition. Each serving of the soup is estimated to contain around 350-400 calories, with approximately 20-25 grams of fat, 20-25 grams of carbohydrates, and 15-20 grams of protein.
It also offers about 3-5 grams of fiber, contributing to its overall nutritional profile. Please note that these values may vary depending on the specific ingredients used and the serving size. It’s always a good idea to refer to the nutritional information on specific product labels or consult a nutritionist for more precise details.
What Are Total Calories In The Recipe ?
The total calories in a recipe can vary greatly depending on the exact ingredients and their quantities used. However, as a general estimate, a typical serving of homemade Broccoli Cheddar Soup may have around 300-400 calories per serving.
Any variations or additions to the recipe, such as adding extra vegetables, proteins, or serving with bread, will also affect the total calorie count.
Dietary Restrictions For The Recipe
- Vegetarian: The recipe is vegetarian if a vegetable broth is used. However, if chicken broth is used, it will not be suitable for vegetarians.
- Vegan: The traditional recipe is not vegan due to using butter, milk, and cheese. However, vegan versions can be substituted with plant-based butter, non-dairy milk, vegan cheese, or nutritional yeast.
- Gluten-Free: The soup is typically thickened with all-purpose flour containing gluten. You can use gluten-free flour alternatives or a cornstarch slurry as a thickener to make it gluten-free.
- Lactose Intolerance: Traditional recipe is unsuitable for individuals with lactose intolerance due to dairy products like butter, milk, and cheese. To modify, you can use lactose-free milk, and there are now numerous lactose-free cheese options available in most grocery stores.
- Nut Allergies: This recipe is generally safe for individuals with nut allergies, provided that no nut-based products are used in substitutions.
- Low Sodium Diet: To reduce the sodium level, use unsalted butter, low-sodium broth, and limit the added salt.
Health Benefits Of The Recipe
- Broccoli: Broccoli is high in many nutrients, including fiber, vitamin C, vitamin K, iron, and potassium. It also boasts more protein than most other vegetables.
- Onions and Garlic: These ingredients are rich in antioxidants and have anti-inflammatory properties. They also help boost immunity and support heart health.
- Cheese and Milk: These dairy products provide a good source of calcium and protein. If you use whole milk, you’re also getting some vitamin D.
- Bone Broth (if used): Bone broth is rich in vitamins and minerals, including calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus. It’s also high in protein and can support joint health.
How Can I Make Soup Lower In Sodium?
- Use Low-Sodium Broth: Choose a low-sodium or no-salt-added broth. This gives you more control over the sodium content of the overall soup.
- Limit Added Salt: Be mindful of how much salt you add during cooking. Remember, you can always add more to the table if necessary, but you can’t remove it once it’s in the pot.
- Use Fresh Ingredients: Fresh vegetables like broccoli, onion, and garlic are naturally low in sodium. Canned vegetables can have added salt, so opt for fresh when possible.
- Choose Natural Cheese: Some cheeses can be high in sodium. Look for natural, lower-sodium varieties of cheddar cheese, or consider reducing the amount of cheese used.
- Flavor with Herbs and Spices: Instead of relying solely on salt for flavor, use a variety of herbs and spices. In this recipe, garlic and thyme provide a lot of the flavor but feel free to experiment with others, like black pepper, paprika, or basil.
How Can I Make Soup Lower In Sugar?
- Watch the Onions and Garlic: Onions and garlic, while healthy and flavorful, do contain some natural sugars. Cook them just until they’re tender and translucent, but don’t caramelize them, as this process brings out more of their natural sugars.
- Choose Low-Sugar Broth: Some commercial broths can contain added sugars. Be sure to check the labels and choose a broth with no added sugars.
- Opt for Whole Milk: While dairy products contain some natural sugar in the form of lactose, whole milk typically has less sugar than reduced-fat or non-fat varieties.
- Avoid Sweetened Dairy Substitutes: If you’re using a dairy substitute like almond or soy milk, be sure to choose an unsweetened variety.
How To Serve The Soup At Its Best?
- Temperature: Serve the soup hot but not boiling. The flavors are best appreciated when the soup is at the right temperature.
- Bowl Selection: Use deep bowls to keep the soup hot for longer. Pre-warming your bowls in the oven on low heat can also keep your soup hot for longer.
- Garnish: Sprinkle a little extra shredded cheese on top, a few small broccoli florets, a sprinkle of paprika or black pepper, or a swirl of cream. This not only makes the soup look more appealing but can also enhance the flavors.
- Accompaniments: Serve the soup with a side of crusty bread or a roll for dipping. You could also offer a side salad to make it a complete meal.
- Portion Size: If serving as a starter, opt for smaller portions. A larger, hearty bowl is appropriate if it’s the main course.
- Serve Immediately: Soup is best served immediately after cooking. If you need to wait before serving, keep it covered on low heat to keep it hot.
Perfect Side Dishes To Complement The Recipe
- Crusty Bread: A thick slice of crusty bread, like a sourdough or a baguette, is perfect for dipping into the creamy soup.
- Grilled Cheese Sandwich: Turn your soup into a classic comfort food meal with a side of grilled cheese. You could add some interesting flavors to your sandwich, like a sharp cheddar or even a slice of apple for a sweet and savory twist.
- Green Salad: A fresh, crisp salad with a light vinaigrette dressing can provide a refreshing contrast to the rich, creamy soup.
- Roasted Vegetables: A side of roasted vegetables, such as brussels sprouts or carrots, can complement the soup and add a bit more substance to your meal.
- Baked Potato: A simple baked potato with a touch of butter and chives can be a hearty and satisfying side.
- Quinoa Salad: A colorful, nutrient-rich quinoa salad can provide a healthy, high-protein addition to your meal.
How Long Can We Store The Soup?
Broccoli Cheddar Soup, like most homemade soups, can be stored in the refrigerator for about 3-4 days. To store it, let the soup cool to room temperature, then transfer it to airtight containers before placing it in the fridge.
If you’d like to store the soup for longer, it can be frozen for up to 2-3 months. Again, allow the soup to cool before transferring it to a freezer-safe container. Be sure to leave some space at the top of the container, as the soup will expand when it freezes.
To reheat the soup, thaw it in the refrigerator overnight if it’s been frozen. Then, reheat it on the stove over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until it’s hot.
If the soup has separated slightly, which can happen with dairy-based soups, whisk it gently while it’s reheating to help it regain a smooth consistency. Be sure to heat the soup thoroughly before consuming it.
Can I Make Soup In Advance?
Yes, you can make Broccoli Cheddar Soup in advance, and it’s a great candidate for a make-ahead meal due to its ability to keep well in the refrigerator or freezer.
If you plan to serve it within a few days, make the soup as instructed, allow it to cool, and store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator. It should keep well for 3-4 days.
For longer storage, you can freeze the soup. Once the soup has cooled, pour it into a freezer-safe container, leaving some space at the top for the soup to expand. The soup can be frozen for up to 2-3 months.
When you’re ready to serve the soup, if it’s been frozen, thaw it overnight in the refrigerator. Then reheat it on the stove over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally. If the soup has separated slightly, which can happen with dairy-based soups, whisk it gently while it’s reheating to help it regain a smooth consistency.
What Can We Do With Leftovers?
- Reheat and enjoy: Simply heat up the leftover soup and enjoy it as a quick and comforting meal.
- Make a baked potato topping: Use the soup as a flavorful topping for baked potatoes. Spoon the soup over baked potatoes and add extra shredded cheese or other desired toppings.
- Transform into a pasta sauce: Warm up the soup and toss it with cooked pasta to create a creamy and flavorful pasta dish. You can also add additional vegetables or cooked chicken for more variety.
- Create a creamy vegetable casserole: Combine the leftover soup with cooked vegetables such as cauliflower, carrots, or peas. Top it with breadcrumbs and cheese, then bake it until golden and bubbly for a delicious casserole.
- Use as a filling for stuffed bread: Cut a loaf of bread in half lengthwise, hollow out the center, and fill it with the soup. Top with extra cheese and bake until the bread is toasted and the cheese is melted.
- Large pot: Use a large pot to cook the soup and accommodate all the ingredients.
- Wooden spoon or spatula: A wooden spoon or spatula is handy for stirring the soup and scraping the bottom of the pot to prevent sticking.
- Immersion blender or regular blender (optional): While not essential, an immersion blender or regular blender can be used to puree the soup and achieve a smoother consistency. Be cautious when blending hot liquids.
- Chef’s knife and cutting board: You’ll need a sharp chef’s knife and cutting board to chop the onion and mince the garlic.
- Measuring cups and spoons: Accurately measuring ingredients is crucial for consistent results. Have measuring cups and spoons to measure the specified quantities of butter, flour, broth, milk, etc.
- Grater (if needed): If you have block cheese instead of pre-shredded cheese, a grater will be useful for shredding the cheddar cheese.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I Use Frozen Broccoli Instead Of Fresh Broccoli Florets?
Yes, you can use frozen broccoli florets as a substitute. Just ensure they are thawed and drained before adding them to the soup.
Can I Make This Soup Vegetarian Or Vegan?
Absolutely! To make it vegetarian, use vegetable broth instead of chicken broth. For a vegan version, replace the butter with a plant-based alternative, use vegetable broth, and choose a vegan cheese substitute.
Can I Make The Soup Ahead Of Time?
Yes, you can make the soup ahead of time. Store it in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to 3-4 days. Reheat gently on the stovetop, adding a splash of milk if needed to adjust the consistency.
Can I Freeze The Soup?
Yes, you can freeze the soup for longer storage. Allow it to cool completely, then transfer it to freezer-safe containers or bags. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight and reheat on the stovetop, adjusting the consistency if necessary.
What Are Some Variations To The Recipe?
You can customize the soup by adding diced cooked chicken or crispy bacon as a garnish. You can also incorporate other vegetables like cauliflower or carrots for added flavor and nutrition. Experiment with different types of cheese or herbs to create your own unique twist.
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