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

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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Recipe rating

    89 comments
    1. Jane
      February 14, 2021 AT 8:37 pm

      This soup came out so good! Thank you! I always make some changes- I had my doubts when making it so I added two potatoes to the cauliflower and did not use nutmeg but cumin, onion and garlic powders and paprika. It would have been good with smoked paprika but we’re out. A hefty tablespoon of FF greek yogurt at the end. Delicious and it wasn’t 1000 calories! Served with biscuits and smoked pork chops. Thank you!!

      1. Brittany Mullins
        February 15, 2021 AT 3:03 pm

        So glad you loved this soup, Jane!! Thanks for making it and for coming back to leave a review. I so appreciate it!

    2. Carter Drewry
      January 30, 2021 AT 2:51 pm

      I just tried this soup for the first time and it’s amazing! It will definitely be a recipe I keep returning to and I’ll be sharing it with friends too. I love that it’s full of veggies and still tastes so rich and creamy!!

      1. Brittany Mullins
        February 1, 2021 AT 1:02 am

        Woo!! So glad this soup was a hit. Thanks for the review, Carter. I so appreciate it!

    3. Susannah
      January 6, 2021 AT 4:42 pm

      My husband and I loved this soup and will definitely make it again. I blended the broccoli and carrots once they were cooked, before adding the cheese as I prefer a smoother soup.

      1. Brittany Mullins
        January 7, 2021 AT 4:15 pm

        I’m glad this soup was a hit! Thanks for making it and for coming back to leave a review. I so appreciate it, Susannah.

    4. Joanna
      January 5, 2021 AT 5:59 pm

      Super easy to make, absolutely delicious! Such a comforting soup with less guilt than a heavy, creamy soup. Definitely will be sharing this with friends

      1. Brittany Mullins
        January 5, 2021 AT 9:40 pm

        Yay!! So glad you enjoyed this soup. Thanks for coming back to leave a review, Joanna. I so appreciate it!

    5. Rachael S.
      January 3, 2021 AT 9:24 pm

      Love love love this! I will definitely be making this again. One thing I changed: when I tasted the finished product I added 2 tsp more salt and LOTS of extra black pepper 🙂 My carrots were crunchier than I expected so next time I think I might let them simmer on their own in a small sauce pan of broth to make sure they get nice and soft before adding them to the soup.

      1. Brittany Mullins
        January 4, 2021 AT 12:58 pm

        Ahh yay, that makes me so happy to hear. I’m so glad this soup was a hit!! Thanks for coming back to leave a review, I so appreciate it. 🙂

    6. Mark Sendzik
      December 18, 2020 AT 7:49 pm

      Oh my gosh! I found your website by looking up Spaghetti Squash Cooking how to. I’m into eating healthy and have been struggling finding good meal ideas. All the recipes I run into aren’t always
      the healthiest and are loaded with cheese and such. The emphasis is on fast and easy not healthy and good. Your site is just loaded with things that I love to eat. I’m creative with many things in my life. Unfortunately, cooking isn’t one of them. I have a slow juicer and a freeze dryer that I use to make and store long term 25 years foods that are good for me and my wife. I love soups and your soup menus are just out of this world! I can’t thank you enough for sharing your recipes! Variety is the spice of life. I’ve been so frustrated with my food choices you have no idea. Again, I’m so excited to have come across your website and will be sharing with everyone that I know! Take care! Mark Sendzik

      1. Brittany Mullins
        December 19, 2020 AT 12:27 pm

        This makes me so happy to hear, Mark! I’m so glad that you stumbled upon my site and I can’t wait for you too try some of the recipes! Thank you for the comment.

    7. Sally
      December 16, 2020 AT 5:29 am

      Does this soup freeze well? Also, can I use frozen cauliflower florets and if so, how does the process/cook time change?

      1. Brittany Mullins
        December 17, 2020 AT 7:28 pm

        Hey Sally – I wouldn’t recommend freezing this soup because the cheese may change consistency/break up in the freezer.

    8. Samantha Z
      December 13, 2020 AT 4:51 pm

      I just made this and it’s super delicious! A word of advice, don’t use purple carrots, they make the whole soup purple 💜

      1. Brittany Mullins
        December 13, 2020 AT 9:43 pm

        So glad you loved this soup, Samantha! Thanks for making it and for coming back to leave a review. I so appreciate it. 🙂

    9. Brooke
      December 6, 2020 AT 10:33 pm

      Could I use frozen cauliflower for this? I’m worried it will mess with the base of the soup

    10. Melissa
      December 2, 2020 AT 5:24 pm

      I will definitely make this again – really delicious. I had a little issue with the cheddar cheese not fully incorporating, but I think this may have been due to my adding it while the soup was still too hot and/or adding too much at a time. I’m on my second day of leftovers and it reheats great on the stove. Thanks for the great recipe!

      1. Brittany Mullins
        December 3, 2020 AT 12:27 am

        I’m so glad you enjoyed this soup, Melissa! Thanks for making it and for coming back to leave a review. I so appreciate it. 🙂

    11. Sonia
      December 2, 2020 AT 1:59 pm

      Super tasty and so creamy, you‘d never guess there is no cream involved! Thanks for the great recipe, I‘ll definitely make it again asap!:)

      1. Brittany Mullins
        December 3, 2020 AT 12:25 am

        Yay!! That makes me so happy to hear, Sonia. I’m pumped you enjoyed this soup. Thanks for making it and for coming back to leave a review. I appreciate it.

    12. Julia
      December 2, 2020 AT 1:02 pm

      This soup is delicious! What really puts it over the top is the cauliflower base – the flavor is amazing!

      1. Brittany Mullins
        December 3, 2020 AT 12:23 am

        Yay!! So glad you loved this soup, Julia. Thanks for making it and for the review. 🙂

    13. Jabeen Idros
      November 23, 2020 AT 11:36 am

      Hi Brittany, I always try out recipes from your site. ITs so amazing that we can eat guilt free all what you make. My broccoli cheddar soup is in the making. I saw ur soup is a creamy color and what I have is the ornage cheddar. will that do?

      1. Brittany Mullins
        November 23, 2020 AT 10:38 pm

        That should work just fine! Let me know how it turns out for you. 🙂

    14. Laura Bair
      November 21, 2020 AT 12:19 pm

      This recipe is out of this world! I always thought Panera’s soup was a little too thick and cheesy. This is the perfect combination. I also boil the carrots in with the cauliflower to give it a pretty color. I’m going back for another bowl!

      1. Brittany Mullins
        November 21, 2020 AT 6:55 pm

        Ahh this makes me so happy to hear, Laura. I’m pumped to hear you loved this soup!! Thanks for making it and for coming back to leave a review. I so appreciate it. 🙂

    15. Erica
      November 20, 2020 AT 10:32 pm

      Love this so much–so easy, so cozy, so tasty!! This was a huge hit around my dinner table! I’ll be making this all winter long!!

      1. Brittany Mullins
        November 21, 2020 AT 6:46 pm

        I’m so glad you loved this soup, Erica! I appreciate you making it and coming back to leave a review. 🙂

    16. snausage
      November 19, 2020 AT 7:21 pm

      This soup tastes good, but it’s not one I would return to. The soup is a little grainy and the cheese melted strangely. It needed to be melted in a roux. As I said, the flavor is fabulous, but the texture is a bit off.

      1. Brittany Mullins
        November 20, 2020 AT 12:58 pm

        Oh no! Sorry to hear that, Kelly. What kind of cheese did you use?

        1. snausage
          November 22, 2020 AT 6:56 am

          Brittany, I used pre-shredded Sargento mild cheddar.

          1. Brittany Mullins
            November 23, 2020 AT 10:58 pm

            Mmm, that’s so strange. I wonder if it has something to do with the cheese you used. I haven’t heard of anyone else having the same issue.

    17. Alyssa
      November 15, 2020 AT 7:18 pm

      I never leave reviews but this is Such a great broccoli cheddar soup…it’s so hearty you’d never know it was lightened up! It’s also easy to make into a vegan soup by simple substitutes so this is one you can really make your own. I’ll definitely be making it again!

      1. Brittany Mullins
        November 15, 2020 AT 7:46 pm

        Ahh yay, that makes me so happy to hear, Alyssa!! I’m pumped you loved this soup. Thanks for making it and for coming back to leave a review, I appreciate it. 🙂

    18. Amy Otto
      November 11, 2020 AT 5:04 pm

      OMG this is my new favorite! I added the carrots while the cauliflower was cooking and blended and I ended up with an even cheesier looking base. My kids loved it, and my partner (who I have to convince to eat healthy) had seconds! Thanks!

      1. Brittany Mullins
        November 11, 2020 AT 7:54 pm

        Ahh yay, that makes me so happy to hear!! I’m so glad this soup was a hit, Amy. I really appreciate you making it and coming back to leave a review. <3

    19. Mellisa
      November 5, 2020 AT 11:34 pm

      I used my Instant Pot; sautéed the onion and cauliflower then pressure cooked with chicken stock on high for 3 minutes with quick release, pureed in my Vitamix, returned to the IP, added carrot and broccoli and pressure cooked for another 3 minutes with a quick release then added cheese. Amazing and so easy!

      1. Brittany Mullins
        November 7, 2020 AT 7:56 pm

        Good to know this worked well in the Instant Pot, Mellisa!! Thanks for coming back to share how you made it. It’s super helpful for other readers. 🙂

    20. Erin
      October 25, 2020 AT 4:56 pm

      Exceeded my expectations and I didn’t miss the dairy at all!

      1. Brittany Mullins
        October 25, 2020 AT 11:53 pm

        Ahh yay!! That makes me so happy to hear, Erin. I’m so glad you loved this soup. Thanks for trying it and for coming back to leave a comment + star rating. I really appreciate it. 🙂

    21. Daisy
      October 25, 2020 AT 4:15 pm

      I made this for a soup party; never told anyone it was ~healthy~ and it was gone in under an hour!! I wish I could give it a five star for everyone that loved it! Definitely a remake!

      1. Brittany Mullins
        October 25, 2020 AT 11:57 pm

        Woo!! That makes me so happy to hear. I’m pumped this soup was a hit with everyone! Thanks for making it and for coming back to leave a comment + star rating. I really appreciate it. <3

    22. Chloe
      August 12, 2020 AT 9:59 pm

      I had a bunch of broccoli in the fridge I needed to use, so I tried this recipe out tonight for dinner. I don’t think I’ll ever make broccoli cheddar soup any other way! So delicious!

      1. Brittany Mullins
        August 13, 2020 AT 5:32 pm

        Woot woot! That makes me so happy to hear, Chloe. I’m so pumped you loved this soup. Thanks for making it and for coming back to leave a comment + star rating. I so appreciate it.

    23. Nicole
      May 5, 2020 AT 6:42 pm

      This soup was delicious! You can’t tell it’s a lightened up version at all and my husband loved it too. I used chicken broth in mine. Will definitely be making again. Thanks for the recipe!

      1. Brittany Mullins
        May 6, 2020 AT 11:24 pm

        Woot woot!! I’m so glad this soup was a hit, Nicole. Thanks for trying it and for coming back to leave a comment and star rating. It means the world to me! 🙂

    24. Sydney
      March 4, 2020 AT 7:06 pm

      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!

      1. Brittany Mullins
        March 6, 2020 AT 12:12 am

        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!

    25. Emily Putnam
      February 18, 2020 AT 7:13 pm

      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!

      1. Brittany Mullins
        February 19, 2020 AT 2:11 pm

        Yay!! So glad you enjoyed this soup, Emily! Thanks for trying it and for coming back to leave a comment + star rating. I so appreciate it. <3

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