Lightened Up Broccoli Cheddar Soup

Easy and healthy, this lightened up broccoli cheddar soup uses cauliflower for a creamy base and packs a ton of veggies into a comforting and cheesy bowl of soup. Vegetarian and gluten-free.

Broccoli cheddar soup brings me back to my childhood! As a kiddo, I wasn’t a huge fan of vegetables besides potatoes and corn. #carblover I would eat green veggies like broccoli, but only when it was smothered with butter or cheese. That said, I always loved broccoli cheddar soup! The ultimate comfort food then and now.

Bowl of broccoli cheddar soup with a gold spoon in the bowl.

Healthy Broccoli Cheddar Soup

Traditional broccoli cheddar soup is made with a melted butter and flour roux and a hefty serving of milk. I decided to skip all of those extra calories and made the base out of vegetables and broth blended with an immersion blender. It’s so creamy and delicious, you won’t even realize I switched up the recipe to include more veggies. 😉

  • vegetables – yellow onion, garlic, cauliflower, broccoli and carrots 
  • broth – either bone broth or vegetable stock is great!
  • cheese – I used cheddar cheese
  • spices – nutmeg, salt and black pepper

One serving is under 270 calories – no guilt here and plenty of room for delicious sides!

Dutch oven with broccoli cheddar soup and a wood spoon stirring.

What to Serve with Broccoli Cheddar Soup

I love pairing this broccoli cheddar soup with a couple of sides to make it a more filling meal. I need more than 270 calories to fill me up! I love bread with soup – cornbread is always delicious (my pumpkin cornbread is amazing) or you can keep it simple and toast up a slice of honey whole wheat bread. A side salad (like my garlicky kale salad) would also be a light, refreshing accompaniment to this soup.

Bowl of broccoli cheddar soup with a gold spoon in the bowl.

Storing & Reheating Soup

When it comes to soup, I feel like some soups taste better as leftovers, after the flavors have had more time to mesh, and others are better right away. This broccoli cheddar soup falls somewhere in the middle. I think it’s best fresh, but it also stores and reheats really well from the refrigerator. I wouldn’t recommend freezing this soup because the cheese may change consistency/break up in the freezer. Refrigerate leftovers for up to five days and reheat on the stovetop over medium-low heat.

Bowl of broccoli cheddar soup.

In the Mood for Soup? More Soup Recipes to Try:

If you try this broccoli cheddar soup please be sure to leave a comment with a star rating below. Your feedback is super helpful for the EBF team and other EBF readers. 

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Lightened Up Broccoli Cheddar Soup


  • Author: Brittany Mullins
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 50 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 5 minutes
  • Yield: 6

Description

Easy and healthy, this lightened up broccoli cheddar soup uses cauliflower for a creamy base and packs a ton of veggies into a comforting and cheesy bowl of soup. Vegetarian and gluten-free.


Ingredients

  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 head cauliflower, core removed and chopped into small florets
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt 
  • 1 teaspoon ground pepper
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper (optional)
  • 4 cups bone broth or vegetable broth
  • 5 cups broccoli fresh florets or frozen
  • 12 large carrots, diced (about 1 cup)
  • 8 ounces shredded cheddar cheese, plus more for sprinkling on top, if desired
  • green onions, for garnish 

Instructions

  1. Heat the olive oil in a large pot or dutch oven over medium heat. Add onions and garlic and sauté until translucent, about 5-7 minutes.
  2. Add the cauliflower, nutmeg, cayenne (if using), salt and pepper. Sauté for another 1-2 minutes.
  3. Add the broth to the pot and bring mixture to a boil. Once boiling, reduce heat to a simmer, cover and cook for at least 15-20 minutes, or until the cauliflower is very tender (soft enough to mash with a fork).
  4. Use an immersion blender to puree the mixture until smooth and creamy. 
  5. Return the soup to the pot over medium heat and add the broccoli and carrots. Bring to simmer and cook 20-25 minutes, or until the broccoli is tender (if you use frozen broccoli, you’ll only need to cook until the broccoli is thawed and heated through).
  6. Reduce the heat to low and stir in the cheese a little at a time. The soup will be pretty thick. If you want a thinner soup, add additional broth or water to reach a desired consistency. Taste and season with more salt and pepper.
  7. Serve soup sprinkled with additional shredded cheese and green onions.

Notes

  • If you don’t have an immersion blender, you can transfer the cauliflower soup base to a regular blender for pureeing, but do so carefully and in batches so the soup doesn’t splash out. Alternatively you can use a potato masher to mash the cauliflower. This will result in a chunkier soup. 
  • Category: Lunch/Dinner
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: American

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 1/6 of recipe
  • Calories: 269
  • Sugar: 4g
  • Sodium: 542mg
  • Fat: 16g
  • Carbohydrates: 16g
  • Fiber: 5g
  • Protein: 20g

Keywords: broccoli cheddar soup

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    42 comments
  1. While I was making the soup I was a bit worried due to the consistency.But this soup is AMAZING! So creamy and tastes just like a traditional broccoli cheddar soup! Will definitely be making this again!

    • Ahh that makes me so happy to hear, Sydney!! I’m so glad you loved this soup. Thanks for trying my recipe and for coming back to leave a comment and star rating. It means the world to me!

  2. So delish and so easy! I used the immersion blender again after the broccoli was cooked to blend the broccoli a little while still leaving plenty of chunks. Will definitely make again. Thanks for great recipes!

  3. This recipe is great! Thanks so much. I love how it doesn’t take butter or flour. My kids and my whole family for that matter had no idea it was made with a cauliflower base. I will def be making again!

    • Hi Jen! I definitely think you could make it work in the slow cooker or instant pot, but it’s not a soup where you can just dump everything in and cook it since the cauliflower base needs to be cooked and blended before adding in the broccoli and carrots. I’m also not sure of the cook times since I haven’t tried making it with either of these methods. Let me know if you decide to experiment and test it with either of these methods!

  4. This is the first recipe from your website and definitely will not be the last. I followed the recipe to a “T.” Will definitely make again using a little less ground pepper

  5. My favorite soup is Broccoli Cheddar Soup, so I had to try your recipe! We do not have an immersion blender and I did not want to take the time to transfer the cauliflower soup to the blender and back. So, I just used our potato masher. At first, I thought that I had made a mistake by not pureeing the cauliflower. I second-guessed my way all the way until we started adding the cheese. It was perfect. My husband loved it! The kids finished their bowls (may not sound much, but it is equal to thumbs up!). And I LOVED IT! Excited that we showed restraint so we can have leftovers for lunch tomorrow.
    Thank you!

  6. This was so delicious! My three kiddos and husband loved it. You honestly couldn’t tell it was a “lightened up” version! It tastes so creamy. Will definitely be making it again!

  7. I made this for dinner tonight and loved it! My husband said it tasted just like Panera’s broccoli cheddar soup. I’ll be making this again. Definitely recommend

  8. Holy. Moly. The BEST broccoli cheese soup!! The day this recipe showed up in my inbox I had the ingredients and changed my meal plan and made this instead! Best decision. Seriously this is so good and I can’t believe their’s cauliflower in it! My 5 year old, 3 year old and husband (who doesn’t like this cauliflower trend…) all liked it, said it was good, and THEN I told them it was cauliflower! So delightful 🙂

    • Ahhh this makes me so happy to hear, Brittany!! I’m so glad this soup was a hit with the fam. Thanks for coming back to leave a comment and star rating. It’s super helpful to other readers, so I appreciate it. <3

  9. I ended up using a blender for the whole soup – really good. Mine ended up a bit spicy so I added more broth. It also got a “really good” from my husband! So yeah!

  10. Just made this and now Waiting for it to cool before I portion it out for my lunches this week. I used cauliflower rice and half the amount of dairy free cheese, saving the rest to add when I reheat. I may cut back on pepper next time. I’ll decide after seeing how it all mellows. thanks

  11. Just made this today. Absolutely delicious. Loved it and it so easy to make. I will be making this again and again. Yum😊😊

  12. It was SO good even my picky eaters loved it!I count my macros, and carb cycle. I love that I can use this for any of my days with just a few changes. This will be a new staple in my dinners!

  13. I was very excited to make this soup on my healthy eating plan. Both my daughters are vegetarian so I used organic vegetable broth. I added the broccoli stalks to the cauliflower which was blended and the soup is a lovely mix of smooth and bites of broccoli and carrot. Flavour is outstanding, I will definitely make this again. A thick and hearty healthy soup for winter cold!

  14. I just made this right now and it is delicious!! I’ve had a hard time getting my veggies in during my pregnancy so this is the perfect meal for me!! Loaded with veggies but still tasty!

  15. what a wonderful idea!! I love broccoli cheddar soup and now im sure I will love it even more, knowing how much it is lightened up. Thank you for the post. Cannot wait to try it with cauliflower.

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