What comes to mind when you think of broccoli cheese soup?
Comfort food, delicious, rich, indulgent, cheesy, creamy, delicious. Yes, me too!
The last thing that comes to mind when we think of broccoli cheese soup, is healthy. I mean yes there is broccoli in there, so there is some veggies with nutritional value in it. BUT let’s be honest, broccoli cheese soup is just an excuse to eat watered down cheese dip. I know, the truth hurts sometimes.
Don’t get me wrong I LOVE broccoli cheese soup as much as everyone else in the world. Hello, I’m from Wisconsin, the land of cheese! BUT you know me, I wanted to create a healthier version of this classic soup.
My friends, I’ve got it! This healthier broccoli cheese soup is super duper creamy, tastes rich without loads of heavy cream or flour. It’s super cheese-y, loaded with broccoli goodness and has all of the comforting qualities we always ask for in a broccoli cheese soup! CELEBRATE!
Oh, and yes, as you read in the title, there is a vegan/dairy free option for this soup! I will explain more later. All you need to know right now is you have options, and that is a beautiful thing!
First, let’s talk about what makes this soup so creamy and delicious. Cauliflower!!!
Yes, cauliflower is the super creamy base to our healthier broccoli cheese soup. I got the idea from my healthier loaded baked potato soup – we are boiling cauliflower until it’s tender and pureeing it. I mean isn’t that just genius?! It’s ultra creamy and rich without any real heavy cream or flour!
oh yeah, and we throw the broccoli stems in there too and puree those up. Because why not make the most of our veggies and layer in even more broccoli flavor?! Secret veggie packed soup FTW!!!
I know what you’re thinking, but does it taste like cauliflower? I want you to stop that thought, because I swear there will be no cauliflower detected in this soup! Not one bit, promise!
Okay so on to the dairy free/vegan option for this broccoli cheese soup. Nutritional yeast! I have used it a few times on the blog and it is vegan and has a delicious cheesy nutty flavor to it. You can 100% use the nutritional yeast in place of cheddar cheese in this recipe. In fact, I tested the recipe with only nutritional yeast and loved it.
I’m not going to lie, I did miss the real cheddar cheese flavor in there. I try to be a good vegan-wannabe but CHEESE gets me every time. So, for my second batch of broccoli cheese soup I did a combo of cheddar cheese and nutritional yeast, it was perfection! I love using both because the nutritional yeast allowed me to cut back on the amount of cheese I used, while still getting some of that real cheddar cheese flavor.
Either way, the choice is yours and they are both delicious. Don’t you love options?!
One more note about the cheddar cheese. Use a good quality sharp cheddar cheese. The good quality cheese will give you a better flavor and the sharp cheddar is stronger in flavor, so it reduces the amount of cheese you really need.
I’m from Wisconsin, I know what’s best when it comes to cheese! Okay?!
I know you all want to dig into this broccoli cheese soup right now! I have to tell you something before you do….
This recipe is a little more labor intensive than I want most of my recipes to be. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not hard – I fully believe in you – but it does require multitasking and 2 big stock pots and a blender.
The good news, it only takes 45 minutes to make this soup. Not bad for a soup as indulgent as this broccoli cheese soup!
You need one pot to boil the cauliflower and broccoli stems you need another one to saute the onion, steam the broccoli, and heat the soup up in. AND the blender is for pureeing that cauliflower and broccoli stems into pure smooth creamy goodness for the base of our soup.
Trust me though, it’s so worth the effort for a bowl of that veggie packed, cheesy, comforting broccoli cheese soup.
Okay, I have talked your ear off enough…. err I mean your eyes off? Huh?
Go make this mostly guilt free, veggie packed, broccoli cheese soup and enjoy every last soothing, comforting bite. LOVE!
Then come back here and tell me weather you went the cheddar cheese route, vegan nutritional yeast route, or the combo. I’m dying to know!
- 8 cups broccoli florets + their stems, chopped. Separate florets from stems (about 4 or 5 heads of broccoli)
- Cauliflower base
- 8 cups cauliflower florets (about 1½ heads)
- 8 cups low sodium chicken or vegetable broth
- 6 cups filtered water
- 1¾ cup milk (any milk you prefer. If using dairy free, use an unsweetened, unflavored version)
- 1 tablespoon butter (or sub vegan butter or olive oil for vegan)
- 1 yellow onion, chopped
- 6 cloves garlic, minced
- ½ teaspoon nutmeg
- 1¼ cup nutritional yeast (optional)*
- 2 cups sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (optional)*
- salt and pepper to taste (don't skimp on the salt here, it helps to bring out that cheesy flavor)
- Boil Cauliflower: In a large stock pot with a tight fitting lid bring the chicken broth and the water to a boil. Add the cauliflower and the reserved broccoli stems. Set aside the broccoli florets. Simmer for 7 to 10 minutes, or until fork tender. Use a slotted spoon to remove the cauliflower florets and the broccoli stems, DO NOT DRAIN THE LIQUID, and add them to a blender.
- Saute the onions and garlic:While the cauliflower is boiling heat a separate large stock pot or dutch oven, with a tight fitting lid over medium heat. Melt the butter. Add the onions and saute them until tender, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and saute for another minute. Remove and add to the blender with the cauliflower.
- Steam the broccoli florets: Returning to the pot that the onions were sauteed in add ½ cup water, or enough to cover the bottom of the pot, bring to a simmer. Add the broccoli florets and pop the lid on. Steam for 5 to 7 minutes, until fork tender. Make sure to stir it occasionally. Don't over cook because it will cook little longer when we heat the soup up. Turn off the heat and set the broccoli aside. Remove 1 to 2 cups of the broccoli florets into a dish, set aside.
- Make the cauliflower base: Returning to the blender. You may need to work on pureeing the cauliflower base in batches. First, add 1 cup of the reserved cauliflower cooking liquid plus ½ cup milk at a time. Blend until smooth. Continue this process until all of the broccoli and the cauliflower has been blended. You can add the blended cauliflower base to the pot with the broccoli.
- Blend the broccoli: To the blender along with some of the cauliflower base add the reserved 1 to 2 cups broccoli. Blend until the broccoli is mostly broken down but green specks remain. Add it to the pot with the remainder of the broccoli and cauliflower base.
- Heat up soup and add flavors: Gently heat up the soup while you add in the nutritional yeast and/or cheddar cheese*. Along with the nutmeg, and salt and pepper. If the soup seems too thick you can thin it out with more of the broth/cauliflower cooking liquid, I added about 1 cup extra. Once heated through serve immediately. Leftovers keep for about 1 week.
Another tip on cutting down on the cheese is to use a sharp cheddar, it has a stronger cheesy cheddar flavor so you don't need as much. Also, I highly recommend choosing a good quality cheddar, quality cheese has better flavor. I recommend grating your own cheese from the block, it melts better than the pre grated stuff.
Don't throw away the broth cooking liquid from the cauliflower. It's full of good flavor. You can use it in any soup recipe or any other recipe that calls for broth. It freezes for up to 6 months. 🙂