This creamy vegan broccoli cheddar soup without cashews is the ultimate comfort dish! It's loaded with cheesy flavor, made in one pot and is ready to eat in under 30 minutes. Quick & easy to make, this soup makes the perfect lunch or weeknight dinner through the fall and winter months!
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.
No offense to Panera or any other food bloggers but I think I created the best vegan broccoli cheddar soup ever. It's hearty, it's creamy, it's delicious, it's heaven sent I may even say. Clearly I'm passionate about this vegan version LOL.
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's broccoli cheddar soup! I promise you'll be wanting to make this easy recipe every week!
Why you'll love this recipe
- It's the perfect comfort food! This broccoli soup is the best during the colder fall and winter months. It's quick and easy to make and will warm you right up!
- No blender needed! YUP, you heard me, this is one of the only vegan broccoli cheddar soups that doesn't make you use a blender or food processor. All you need to make this recipe is one pot - talk about a quick & easy clean up!
- Ultra creamy without cashews! A lot of the other recipes use raw cashews but I promise, this recipe is still soo creamy and rich without them (plus there's no nutty flavor). A combination of a roux, dairy-free milk, and vegan cheese will give you the same creamy effect and cheesy flavor. Plus, now those of you with a nut allergy can make this!
- It's ready in less than 30 minutes making it the perfect weeknight meal after a busy day or for a lazy Sunday.
- It's make ahead and freezer friendly! Go ahead and meal prep this vegan broccoli cheese soup at the start of the week so you can have it for lunch or dinner. You can also freeze it to readily have on hand for another time.
Broccoli: not only one my favorite vegetables, but the star of the show! We'll be using fresh broccoli crowns that are cut into broccoli florets. I personally love bigger florets, but totally up to you how much you'd like to chop them up.
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 Shreds: 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. Plus, this brand is allergen friendly.
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 perfectly.
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 will all add the texture and consistency we need.
Spices: we'll be using salt, black 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 a large dutch oven (which is how I've written the instructions below) or an instant pot/crock pot. Check out the FAQ section for the instant pot instructions.
In a large pot or dutch oven, add vegan butter or olive oil, garlic, and onions, and cook over medium heat for 4-5 minutes until the onions are 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 vegetable broth, whisking continuously to avoid any clumping until all the broth has been added.
Add in the broccoli, carrots, salt, pepper, paprika, and nutritional yeast.
Bring to a boil then reduce to medium low heat and simmer for 15 minutes, or until the broccoli and carrots are cooked through.
Once the broccoli and carrots are cooked through, remove from heat completely or lower the heat as much as your stove allows. Stir in the non-dairy milk and vegan cheddar cheese shreds, stirring constantly 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!
Serving & Topping Suggestions
Because this soup is so hearty, you can totally pour yourself a big bowl (or a bread bowl) and enjoy it on it's own along side a baguette or crusty bread. OR you can serve with alongside a salad or sandwich, I suggest this vegan caesar salad or half of this chickpea salad sandwich! Any side dish similar to these would be great.
As for toppings, the possibilities are endless! You can top this soup with extra broccoli or cheese, vegan crackers, homemade croutons, herbs like dill or or bac'n bits.
Variations & Substitutions
Use frozen broccoli instead of fresh broccoli. The instructions and cooking time will remain the same. Fair warning, the broccoli may be a bit softer/mushier than if you were to use fresh!
Make it spicy broccoli cheddar soup by adding in some fresh, diced 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 heartier! Because potatoes are so starchy and suck up liquid, I would recommend adding an additional cup of either milk or vegetable broth.
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 using only vegetable broth. Take note that it won't be nearly as thick and creamy but will instead be a lightened up version of this classic dish!
Use different types of vegan cheeses like Mexican shreds or mozzarella 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.
- Do not add any additional flour later on! If the soup isn't as thick as you'd like it, let it simmer for a bit longer or add some more cheese. Adding more flour will just result in a clumpy, weird tasting soup.
- Cook on medium or medium low heat the entire time and make sure you at the milk at a very low or no heat. Cooking on too high of heat can curdle the non-dairy milk and result in a gritty soup.
Storage & Reheating Tips
Refrigerator: Store the soup in an airtight container for up to 5 days.
Freezer: This broccoli cheddar soup is freezer friendly! Allow the soup to cool completely first then store in a freezer-safe container or freezer-friendly storage bags for up to 3 months.
Reheat: You can either reheat in a pot on the stove or a microwave-safe bowl covered with a paper towel in the microwave.* If reheating from frozen, thaw in the refrigerator overnight or reheat it at low temperature on the stovetop until defrosted and warmed through. Continuously stir it as it thaws.
*This soup will continue to thicken as it cools so be sure to add a splash of either dairy-free milk or vegetable broth to thin it out slightly.
This can happen if the temperature gets too high or if you opted to use cashews. Be sure to cook on low or no heat when adding the non-dairy milk to avoid curdling it! If you added cashews, you may have not blended them enough. Unfortunately, after it's been added to the pot there's not much you can do.
To cook this in the instant pot:
In saute mode, heat oil or vegan butter then saute the carrots, onion, and garlic. Sprinkle in the flour and stir to combine and cook down for 1 minute. Add in the remaining ingredients except for the vegan cheese and non-dairy milk. Turn off saute mode and pressure cook on High Pressure for 3-4 minutes. Then turn the valve to venting to quick release the pressure. Then stir in the non-dairy milk and vegan cheddar shreds until the cheese has completely melted. Enjoy!