Broccoli Cheddar Soup
Protein-rich beans replace the cream in this flavorful soup, creating exceptional texture and staying power. For added convenience, the soup may be prepared ahead of time and reheated. Delicious served with a side of crusty rolls or cornbread!

Yield: 4 generous or 6 regular servings — approximately 7 cups total


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped (1 1/2 to 2 cups)
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 2 (10-ounce) packages chopped frozen broccoli, (may use the equivalent amount of fresh broccoli; see notes*)
  • 1 (15-ounce) can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained**
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
  • 4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 cup shredded extra sharp cheddar cheese
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste (I use about 3/4 and 1/2 teaspoon, respectively***)
  • Optional toppings: additional cheddar cheese, crumbled bacon or chopped ham, sliced scallions


  1. Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy-bottomed soup pot over medium heat. Sauté the onion until tender and beginning to turn golden, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, and sauté 30-60 seconds more or until fragrant. Add the broccoli, beans, thyme, and chicken broth. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer, covered, for 10 minutes or until the broccoli is tender.
  2. With either a regular blender or immersion blender, puree the mixture until smooth. (If I have time, I allow the soup to sit for 10-15 minutes so it isn’t piping hot for this step, reheating as needed.) After blending, add the cheddar cheese, salt and pepper, and stir until the cheese is melted. Ladle into bowls, and sprinkle with any of the optional toppings.


  • *If using fresh broccoli, I recommend adding the chopped stem pieces with the onions, as they will take longer to soften than frozen stem pieces. When using frozen broccoli, there is no need to thaw and drain first.
  • **In my original broccoli potato soup recipe, I used 2 medium potatoes, peeled and diced (approximately 12 ounces or 2 cups) in place of the cannellini beans. I simmered the potatoes in the broth for 15 minutes before adding the broccoli, and then added the broccoli and cooked 10-12 minutes more, until tender, before pureeing and stirring in the cheese. I also added 1/4 teaspoon of cayenne pepper for mild heat. If desired you may add, to taste, along with the thyme. In this case, if using fresh broccoli, add the stem pieces along with the potatoes.
  • ***This is a recipe where the right amount of seasoning really makes a difference. If the flavor doesn’t seem pronounced enough, try adding a little extra salt or another sprinkle of cheese. The perfect amount will depend on the type of broth used and personal preference.

One more thing...

For an extra later of flavor, start by sautéing 2 or 3 slices of bacon in the pot until crisp, and then remove to a plate. Crumble and reserve for topping the finished soup. If desired, when using bacon, you may cook the onion in the residual bacon grease instead of the olive oil for a smoky, bacon-y flavor.

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