Broccoli-Cheese Soup

I love experimenting with ways to get my kids to eat their vegetables.  Pizza is definitely a good way – but I have found that soup and smoothies is another one.  One day we happen to be at Cost-Co when they were demoing the Vitamix blender.  The man behind the counter was just about to make a “Princess and the Frog” smoothie.  Of course the kids were intrigued.  Anything that has the word princess in it gets their attention.  So we decided to watch him – he threw in a banana, a whole orange (with just the orange skin removed), some grape juice, pineapple, and a ton of spinach.  Yes, the smoothie was green.  But, they both tried it and LOVED it.  I seriously almost walked out that way with the Vitamix, but decided my Waring blender would work just fine – I just have to peel the orange though.

Then there is soup – both my kids love carrot soup, and even pumpkin soup – as long as there are no distinguishable vegetables in sight.  So, I saw this recipe in Cook’s Illustrated, and I decided I must give it a try.  The soup was delicious – both of my kids ate it – and although my younger one was not super crazy about it, she did manage to eat most of her bowl.  What I liked most about the soup was how creamy it was without using any milk or cream.  The cheese gave it a great flavor, and as the recipe mentioned, by cooking the broccoli to death, it really takes most of the bitterness out. I felt good that night when they went to sleep that they had gotten a well-balanced meal…without any grape juice.


  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 pounds broccoli, florets roughly chopped into 1-inch pieces, stems trimmed, peeled, and cut into 1/4-inch-thick-slices
  • 1 medium onion, roughly chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 2 medium garlic cloves, minced or pressed through a garlic press
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dry mustard powder
  • pinch or cayenne pepper
  • table salt
  • 3-4 cups water
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 ounces baby spinach
  • 3 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (3/4 cup)
  • 1 1/2 ounces Parmesan cheese, grated fine, plus extra for serving


Heat butter in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat.  When foaming subsides, add broccoli, onion, garlic, dry mustard, cayenne, and 1 teaspoon salt.  Cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant, about 6 minutes.  Add 1 cup of water and baking soad.  Bring to a simmer, cover, and cook until broccoli is very soft, about 20 minutes, stirring once during cooking.

Add broth and 2 cups of water and increase heat to medium-high.  When mixture begins to summer, stir in spinach and cook until wilted, about 1 minute.  Transfer half of soup to blender, add cheddar and Parmesan, and process until smooth, about 1 minute.  Transfer soup to a medium bowl and repeat with remaining soup. Return soup to the Dutch oven, and place over medium heat and bring to a simmer.  Adjust consistency of the soup with up to 1 cup of water.  Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve, passing extra Parmesan separately.

Serves 6.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here: Broccoli-Cheese Soup

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11 thoughts on “Broccoli-Cheese Soup

  1. This looks so good! Cook’s Illustrated always has such delicious recipes. I’ll definitely be trying this out on the next cloudy day. I love broccoli and use any excuse I can to make it. :)

    And that Vitamix blender is so cool! When I watched the guy he threw an entire apple in. My dad almost bought it, but then we realized it was a bit ridiculous to spend $300 on a blender we probably wouldn’t use nearly as much as we think we would. It’s definitely a cool toy though!

  2. Soup looks great – I have most of those ingredients on hand and will try maybe tonight!

    I must put in a plug for the Vita-Mix – I have an old model – 10-12 years old, and it is WELL WORTH the price. What makes it so awesome is instant variable speed (that is also what makes it expensive) – plus it just blends really well. It actually chops the food without just frothing things up with lots of air. Prior to this I had a kitchen-aid and although that thing looked industrial was the WORST blender ever.

    I have since talked 3 people into buying a vita-mix and they all love as well. We all regularly talk about its awesomeness. The price is a bit off-putting, but I am actually thinking of getting a second one for our cabin.

    1. Ok, I am really sorry about this…I will blame this on lack of sleep. You are correct – what I meant to write was no milk or cream…but there is butter and cheese. I guess you could use margarine instead of the butter, but it can’t really be broccoli-cheese soup without the cheese. Sorry about that!!

  3. Dawn, thanks for the inspiration! I made this broccoli soup tonight and Arla really liked it (B+). Sam just said, “Mom, why do you make soup so much lately?” and gave it a slightly thumbs down. It was very easy and yummy. BUT I wish we had the biscuits in the photo you posted too!

    1. Kate – stayed tuned for the biscuits…they are coming soon. I’m glad Arla gave it a B+, not bad for an 8 year old!

  4. broccoli and cheddar are one of my favorite combo! Your soup looks so delicious and creamy :) Yumm!

  5. Dawn, just wanted to let you know I made this soup last night and it was absolute perfection. I took some photos but I guess I can’t post them for you. But trust me, it was perfect and the most amazing shade of green. Thank you!

  6. I too saw this recipe in Cooks Illustrated and thought it looked great. I just made it and the color is beautiful + green, of course the texture is excellent but so is everything I put in the Vitamix. my problem is that the soup leaves a film on my teeth…I wonder if it is from the spinach? Sometimes spinach can do this too, almost like a tannic wine. I can’t figure it out. i usually make broccoli soup this way, minus the baking soda and minus the spinach + cheese, just a simple vegetable puree. The color isn’t nearly as beautiful, but the flavor is yummy. I am wondering the cause of the film? Any ideas?

    1. I bet it is the spinach – it doesn’t happen to everyone, but I have heard that happen sometimes…that’s too bad, because the spinach does give it an amazing green color!

  7. I have to add to Jen’s comment about the Vitamix. I love mine and have talked several friends into purchasing one of their own. As I was priceshopping last week for a colleague, I noticed they are having a spring sale on refurbished machines and they run about $359 with 5 year warranty. We make smoothies and soups in ours.

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