My favorite flavor combination has to be peanut butter + chocolate – but right behind that one is totally broccoli + cheddar. I frequently daydream about Panera’s broccoli cheddar soup but I’m sure it’s full of junk/sodium so I endeavored to make my own version. I call this “healthier” because there is still a messload of cheese in it, but I’ve limited unnecessary excess calories by using cauliflower as a thickener rather than butter, flour, or cream.
Domestocrat’s Healthier Broccoli Cheddar Soup (yields 5 portions)
1/2 yellow onion
1 tsp. EVOO
2 cups cauliflower (roughly 2/3 head)
2 carrots, shredded finely
2 cups broccoli, chopped into small pieces (2 crowns)
2 cups stock – it could be veggie, turkey, chicken, beef, whatever you prefer – it just should definitely be homemade stock and not from a box/can. Divide the stock into a 1.5 cup portion and 1/2 cup portion.
1.5 cups lowfat/1% milk
10 oz. sharp cheddar cheese
2 tbsp. nutritional yeast
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1/2 tsp. onion powder
1/4 tsp. paprika (still working on the one I bought in Hungary!)
1/4 tsp. italian seasoning
Nutritional information per serving: 365 calories, 22 g fat, 23 g protein, 21 g carbs, 5 g fiber.
Start by sauteing the onion and EVOO over medium heat. When the onion is tender and has browned, remove from the heat. While the onion is cooking, boil the cauliflower. When the cauliflower is fork tender, drain off the water.
Put both ingredients in a blender with 1/2 cup of the stock and blend until pureed and smooth. Pour into a big soup pot and turn the heat to low-medium.
While the onion and cauliflower are cooking in step 1, you can chop the broccoli and shred the carrot. When that is done, put both into the soup pot with your pureed base. Slowly add the milk and the remaining stock. Stir to combine thoroughly.
Let those ingredients come together over low heat for about 10 minutes. Then, in small chunks, add the cheese and stir to help it melt. When the cheese has fully melted, add the nutritional yeast and all of the spices. Stir to combine.
Nutritional yeast, if you’ve never had it, has a wonderfully nutty and cheesy flavor – which is why it’s perfect for this soup. It enhances and deepens the flavor and it’s just delicious.
Simmer on low heat for about an hour, stirring occasionally to make sure the cheese isn’t clumping.
Serve this soup right away or it can be stored in an airtight container for up to 5 days and reheated in the microwave or on the stovetop.
This soup has all the richness of Panera’s version but I feel better about it because it’s homemade, has tons of fresh veggies as the base, and still retains all of its cheesy goodness.