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Easy Broccoli Cheese Soup

Serves 10     adjust servings

This Easy Broccoli Cheese Soup is a delicious and quick weeknight meal! I love this recipe because there is plenty of broccoli to go around. The sharp cheddar flavor really comes through thanks to a few spices, and the creamy sauce is velvety and smooth. Plus, it's done in 30 minutes! It's even better than Panera. How can you go wrong here? 

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 and 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 3/4 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 3/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 2 cloves garlic, smashed and minced
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 3 cups chicken broth*
  • 3 cups whole milk OR half and half
  • 3 large heads broccoli, about 8 cups chopped (1.5 lbs)
  • 3 carrots, shredded or cut into matchsticks
  • 1/2 to 1 cup heavy cream
  • 4 cups sharp cheddar cheese, packed (about 14-16 ounces)
  • more cheddar cheese, to garnish
  • chopped green onions, to garnish

Instructions

  1. Start by preparing your vegetables. Chop 3 large heads broccoli (I used 1.5 lbs and it came out to about 8 cups chopped. Don't throw out those stems! They are delicious!), shred your 3 carrots (or chop into matchsticks), chop the 1 onion and smash and mince 2 cloves garlic. Set aside.
  2. In a large soup pot, melt 1/3 cup butter over medium heat. Add the chopped onion and stir to combine.
  3. Add all the spices: 1 and 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, 3/4 teaspoon black pepper, 3/4 teaspoon dry mustard, 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, and 3/4 teaspoon smoked paprika.
  4. Continue sautéing the onion until translucent, about 4-5 minutes.
  5. Add 2 cloves of minced garlic and saute another minute until fragrant.
  6. Gradually add 1/3 cup flour over the onion mixture. Don't add it all at once. Sprinkle a little bit on, stir to make it absorb into the butter, then add more, until you've added all of it and you have formed a paste with the butter and flour.
  7. Use a whisk to gradually add in the 3 cups chicken broth. Go slow! Be careful! We are creating a roux; if you add the liquid too quickly, your sauce will never become creamy. Add in a little broth at a time, stirring until incorporated each time, until you've added it all.
  8. Continue this same process with the 3 cups of whole milk. You can go a little faster this time.
  9. Turn the heat up to medium high to bring to a low simmer.
  10. Add in all the broccoli and carrots. Once you have reached a low simmer (small bubbles, nothing to wild) turn the heat back to low to maintain a very slow simmer. Let the mixture continue at a light simmer until the broccoli is just barely tender. Nobody wants mushy broccoli, so keep an eye on it. It shouldn't take more than 5-10 minutes. Do not let the soup come to a rapid boil, it will make your sauce grainy.
  11. Turn off the heat. Stir in 1/2 cup cream.
  12. Shred 4 cups of sharp cheddar cheese, or about 14-16 ounces. Shred it yourself, if possible! Pre-shredded cheese has anti-caking ingredients that inhibit melting.
  13. Add in the shredded cheddar cheese, one cup at a time, stirring every time. Stir until the cheese is melted before adding in the next bit. If your soup has cooled and the cheese is not melting, turn the heat back on to low until it melts. Then turn the heat off right away. (If you heat it too much at this point, your sauce will get grainy.)
  14. After all the cheese is added in, taste the soup and see if you want to add in that extra half cup of cream. Add more salt and pepper if it needs it.
  15. Serve hot with a sprinkle of cheddar cheese on top and some chopped green onions! This soup goes really well with One Hour French Bread.
  16. Reheat leftovers on the stove over low heat. If you microwave leftovers, the sauce will become a bit grainy (it does still taste good, just not the same texture as freshly made).

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