If you’ve been around for awhile, you’ll know that I’m on a never-ending quest to find ways to eat my vegetables without eating a salad. Basically, I want all the nutritional benefits of my veggies—without feeling like I’m just eating vegetables. Especially during Chicago’s bone-chilling winters, the last thing I’m craving most nights is a bowl of vegetables when I can cozy up to a recipe that truly satisfies. Thankfully, this healthy broccoli cheddar soup checks all the boxes.
IMHO, broccoli cheddar soup is the best soup. While followed closely in my rankings by tortellini/lasagna soup, baked potato soup, then tomato soup, a broccoli cheddar wins my heart every time. It’s rich and creamy, cozy and savory, while having just a bit of texture from the broccoli. There are certainly different versions out there. Some lean thick and creamy with all of the broccoli blended, while others have more of a cheesy broth with bigger florets keeping more texture. My version for a healthy broccoli cheddar soup leans on the brothier side, but still maintains that warm creaminess and flavor while being absolutely packed with vegetables.
Ingredients You’ll Need for this Healthy Broccoli Cheddar Soup
- Olive oil
- Smoked Paprika
- Vegetable broth
- Milk or cream (dairy free works great)
- Cheddar cheese
- Lemon juice
How to Make Healthy Broccoli Cheddar Soup
The best thing about this soup is that it’s a one pot meal that comes together with relatively little effort. It does involve a bit of chopping, but once you get everything prepped – which you can certainly do ahead of time – this soup comes together in about 30 minutes. Saute your vegetables with the spices for a bit to caramelize the flavors a bit, then add the broth and simmer until the vegetables are tender. Add your milk, then using an immersion blender, blend a bit of the soup to add a bit of thickness to the texture. Because I skip the step of adding flour as a thickener, blending a portion of the soup helps to add a bit of that creamy texture to the soup without having to make a roux. Then all you have to do is add your cheddar and kale at the end and you’re ready to serve!
Because there’s so many vegetables in this soup, I like to prep each one differently so that it doesn’t just feel like a vegetable soup and the textures can all stand on their own. You can of course omit any of these vegetables if you prefer or substitute with what you have on hand, but I find these vegetables to work well together.
- Celery: Personally, I’m not a huge fan of celery in soup in most cases. But it makes for a great base, so I just like to chop the celery stalks very finely so that they can melt down with the onions in the mirepoix at the beginning of the cook time.
- Carrots: I like to cut the carrots into thin rounds for this soup for the visual color they add. But you can also chop the carrots extra fine like the celery so that it melts more into the soup.
- Zucchini: This is the easiest vegetable to add to almost any recipe to help add extra veggie content. Especially with soups, I like to shred the zucchini and add it to the carrots, onion, and celery at the beginning of cooking. I’ve made plenty of soups where I’ve added in shredded zucchini and no one even realized it was in the bowl.
- Cauliflower and Broccoli: Cut and break apart the florets into the smallest possible pieces for this soup. Not only do they cook faster when you’ve broken the florets down, but the smaller pieces fit better onto a soup spoon, especially because I don’t blend the entire soup together.
- Kale: Leafy greens are another easy way to bulk up the nutritional value of soups. Whether you prefer spinach or kale, chop the leaves into very thin pieces so they easily meld into the soup.
How to Serve and Store Leftovers of this Soup
Serve this soup piping hot! I like to top the soup with additional shredded cheddar cheese, lots of black pepper, and served with a big hunk of crusty bread for soaking up the broth. Because this soup is packed with ingredients, it doesn’t need a ton of frills and toppings to make it feel complete.
To store leftovers, let the soup cool then store in an airtight container in the fridge or, cool completely and store in freezer bags/containers. I prefer to reheat soup on the stove, so when ready to reheat, just add to a stovetop pot with extra broth if needed and bring up to a simmer before serving.
Read on for the recipe, and let me know how you like to have your broccoli cheddar soup!