Slow cooker broccoli cheddar soup is a Panera bread copycat but I’m going to say it’s even better! It’s rich and cheesy, loaded with tender broccoli, celery, and carrots in a flavorful broth. This creamy soup will be the best part of your day!
If you’re not aware yet, I’m obsessed with my crockpot.
Among other slow cooker recipes, crockpot soup recipes are some of my favorites because of how easy and hands-off they are – perfect for busy nights.
This slow cooker broccoli chicken soup is one we love all year round.
It’s a bowl of warmth on a cold winter day, cozy on a rainy day, and when the temperatures are high, it doesn’t require heating the kitchen!
A hearty bowl of delicious soup as effortless and budget friendly as slow cooker broccoli cheddar soup deserves a special place in your dinner rotation. Even if you’ve never had the Panera version, you’ll love this cheesy soup.
Served in a bowl or bread bowls, the whole family should like this one.
Why you’ll love Slow Cooker Broccoli Cheese Soup
Easy Recipe – No need to watch over the stove and it’s ready at the end of the day. You’ll need to check on it once to thicken it up and make it creamy, but otherwise, walk away and do your thing.
Simple Ingredients – Aromatics, vegetables, and freshly grated cheddar in a well-seasoned broth gives this soup tons of flavor with minimal ingredients. Many items you may already have on hand.
Better than Panera – Ok, as good as Panera bread’s broccoli cheddar soup may be, this one is even better. It’s made with fresh, wholesome ingredients, far less sodium, and can be customized to suit your tastes. Plus, if it saves you a few bucks, that’s already a win.
Perfect comfort food – Serve this bowl of cheesy goodness with a slice of crusty bread and you have a delicious meal (perfect for Meatless Monday!).
Equipment you’ll need
- Slow Cooker – You’ll need a 6-8 quart slow cooker & this one has been my favorite for years.
- Veggie Chopper – Easily chop the celery and onion.
- Cheese Grater – I always recommend you grate your own cheese and this tool makes it a breeze!
Below is a list of the ingredients you’ll need to gather to make this recipe, why you need them, and possible substitutions. Scroll all the way down for the full recipe card with measurements.
- Onion – This aromatic helps to build complex flavors in what is really a simple recipe. That’s the beauty of fresh onions is that they make everything taste better.
- Vegetables – Chopped broccoli, matchstick carrots, thinly sliced celery. As the soup cooks, these veggies will soften yet still be visible. Depending on how you like your soup, you can leave them as is, or use an immersion blender to smooth it out.
- Salt & Pepper – A simple seasoning to taste. There will be salt in the stock (more or less depending on the kind you use) and cheese can be salty as well.
- Chicken Stock – Store-bought, homemade, regular, or low-sodium can all be used. I have a slow cooker chicken stock recipe I make batches of, so I usually have that on hand. To keep it vegetarian, use vegetable broth.
- Butter & Flour – We’ll make a quick roux towards the end of the cooking time which will help thicken up the soup.
- Milk – Adds a richness to the soup making it nice and creamy. Use skim milk, whole milk, or 2%, whatever you have.
- Sharp Cheddar Cheese – I always recommend freshly grated cheddar from a whole block of cheese. Packages of pre-shredded cheese come with a coating that prevents the cheese from clumping, which also prevents it from melting as well.
- Scallions – For garnish.
How to make Slow Cooker Broccoli Cheddar Soup
This section shows you how to make this recipe, with process photos showing the steps to help you visualize it. For full instructions, including amounts and temperatures, see the recipe card below.
- Step One: Add the onion, broccoli, carrots, celery, salt, pepper, and chicken stock to the crockpot basin.
- Step Two: Cover and cook on low for 5 hours or high for 3 hours.
- Step Three: Once that first cooking time is up, microwave the butter to melt it and then whisk in the flour to make a paste. This is known as a roux.
- Step Four: Pour it into the soup, then stir in the milk and shredded cheese.
- Step Five: Replace the cover and cook for another hour until the cheese has melted. Stir until smooth then ladle the soup into bowls and enjoy!
What to serve with Slow Cooker Broccoli Cheddar Soup
This soup is as wholesome and hearty as it gets even without added protein. If you want to make it a completely vegetarian meal, serve it with a quick and easy black bean wrap.
To add some meat to your meal, try a buffalo ranch chicken wrap instead.
Tips & Suggestions 🥦
- If you prefer a thicker soup, make a cornstarch slurry with 1 Tablespoon of cornstarch mixed into 1/4 cup of water and stir that into the soup.
- To make the smooth extra smooth, use an immersion blender to blend until desired consistency is reached.
- Carve out the middle of a round loaf of French bread, otherwise known as a boule. Keep enough of the walls to support the soup and use the chunks of removed bread to make homemade croutons or use them for dipping.
- You can replace the milk with heavy cream or heavy whipping cream if you prefer something higher in fat. It’ll add even more of a rich consistency.
- Add a bit of extra seasoning to enhance the flavor. Some people add nutmeg to their slow cooker broccoli soup while others add dried herbs like oregano.
- For heat a sprinkle of cayenne would add a nice kick!
How to reheat and store Slow Cooker Broccoli Cheddar Soup
How to store leftovers
One other thing that I love about crockpot soups is that you can easily double or triple the recipe so you’re sure to have leftovers! Keep anything left in an airtight container in the fridge.
How long will this Panera broccoli cheddar soup recipe last in the fridge?
It’ll stay fresh for up to 3 days in the fridge. If you plan to freeze it, I suggest doing it right away, so it freezes at its best.
Can I freeze broccoli cheddar soup?
Certainly! Allow it to cool completely then transfer it to a freezer-safe container. Keep it frozen for up to 3 months. When you’re ready to eat it, allow it to thaw in the fridge overnight first. Then, reheat it.
How to reheat crockpot broccoli cheddar soup
On the stovetop over medium-low heat. If you find the consistency a bit off, feel free to stir in a bit of broth or milk to help it.
You can also use the microwave if you want.
Did you use freshly grated cheese (like I recommend) or pre-shredded bagged cheese? Bagged cheese, though convenient, has anti-clumping agents on it so it doesn’t melt as nicely.
Yes, you can. You don’t even need to thaw them first, just toss them right in.
What you can do is transfer the soup to a blender to blend instead. You may have to work in batches, and be careful because the soup will be hot!
The culprit is usually that the temperature is too high for the amount of fat in the milk and cheese. If you’ve got the time, I suggest cooking it on low for a longer time.
To bulk up your soup with some protein, I suggest shredded chicken or diced ham.
Panera Broccoli Cheddar Soup Recipe
Need more crockpot soup recipes? Try these:
Click here for my entire collection of soup recipes.