This vegan Panera copycat broccoli cheddar soup is the ultimate comfort dish! It's creamy, made in one pot and is ready to eat in just 30 minutes. Quick & easy to make, this soup makes the perfect lunch or weeknight dinner!
Before I was vegan, I used to eat Panera at least once a week. Half soup half salad was seriously where it was at. Since going vegan over 3 years ago, I've made this recipe every winter and felt like I owed it to you to share it.
This soup is vegan/vegetarian, dairy free, nut free (no cashews here!), and can easily be made gluten free. Even still, it's just as delicious, if not better than the classic Panera broccoli cheddar soup! I promise you'll be wanting to make this weekly!
- Broccoli: not only one my favorite vegetables, but the star of this show! We'll be using fresh broccoli, but frozen broccoli will work just as well if that's what you have on hand. I personally love bigger chunks of broccoli, but totally up to you how much you'd like to chop them.
- Carrots: this is another veggie that's a staple in the iconic Panera broccoli cheddar soup. Fresh shredded carrots are perfect for this recipe. You can totally buy carrots and shred/peel them yourself but I find it totally unnecessary and time consuming.
- Vegan Cheddar Cheese: because cheddar cheese is a key component in this dish, I recommend getting a vegan cheddar you know you love. I personally chose to use Violife 'Just like Cheddar' shreds because I know they melt really well and I think it has one of the best/most realistic flavors.
- Garlic & Onion: for optimal flavor!
- Flour: we'll need flour in order to make our roux, which gives this soup it's yummy creamy texture. Both regular, all purpose flour or 1:1 gluten free flour will work.
- Non-Dairy Milk: any dairy free milk will do, just make sure it's unsweetened/unflavored! I personally used soy milk but almond milk, coconut milk, or oat milk.
- Spices: we'll be using salt, pepper, paprika, and nutritional yeast. All of these will enhance the flavor of the soup. Add as much or as little of each spice as you'd like.
This soup can be made in dutch oven (which is how I've written the instructions below), an instant pot/crock pot, or a slow cooker. Find the slow cooker and instant pot instructions in the recipe card below!
- In a large pot or dutch oven, add vegan butter, garlic, and onions, and cook for 5-7 minutes until translucent.
- Add in the vegan butter and sprinkle flour over the garlic and onions. Mix continuously to form a roux, it should resemble a thick dough. Slowly pour in the non-dairy milk, whisking continuously to avoid any clumping until all the milk has been added.
- Add in the vegetable broth, broccoli, carrots, salt, pepper, paprika, and nutritional yeast.
- Cook on medium-low heat for 15 minutes to cook the broccoli and carrots. Do not let the soup boil and do not raise the heat! You don't want to curdle the milk.
- Once the broccoli is cooked through, remove from heat and add the vegan cheddar cheese shreds, stirring until the cheese is melted and fully incorporated.
- Taste the soup and adjust the seasonings to your preference. Serve immediately with homemade croutons, a fresh baguette, or a side salad!
Variations & Substitutions
Use frozen broccoli instead of fresh broccoli. The instructions and cooking time will remain the same. Fair warning, it may be a bit softer/mushier than if you were to use fresh!
Make spicy broccoli cheddar soup by adding in fresh jalapeños.
Use cauliflower in place of broccoli at a 1:1 ratio and turn this into a cauliflower cheddar soup!
Make this broccoli cheddar soup with potatoes to make it healthy/healthier! Because potatoes are so starchy and suck up liquid, I would recommend adding an additional cup of liquid.
Make this recipe gluten free by using gluten-free flour when creating the roux. Or you can make it without flour entirely.
Make this soup without milk by just using vegetable broth. Take note that it won't be nearly as thick and creamy but will instead be a lightened up version!
Use different types of vegan cheeses like Mexican shreds to change up the flavor!
- If the soup is too thick, add in more vegetable broth. Or, feel free to put half of the soup in a blender, or use an immersion blender, in order to break down the ingredients, making the soup a bit less hearty and thick. Alternatively, if it's too thin, add in more cheddar shreds!
- Don't over blend the soup! You don't want it to be completely smooth like a puree, it should still have texture and a bite to it.
- Cook on medium heat the entire time. Cooking on too high of heat can curdle the non-dairy milk and result in a gritty soup.
Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4-5 days. To reheat, you can either microwave or use a saucepan on the stove and cook until heated through.
Yes! Place in freezer-safe zip bags and freeze flat or in freezer-safe containers for up to 3 months. To reheat, thaw completely then warm on low heat until warmed through.
You can serve this soup as a stand alone meal (even better if it's in a bread bowl 🤤), paired with salads, sandwiches, a baguette, or enjoy it as an appetizer!
This can happen if the temperature gets too high. Be sure to cook on medium heat the heat the entire time to avoid curdling the non-dairy milk and a grainy consistency.