A blast of authentic Asian flavors will make you question if you really ever need…
Soup season is in full swing with one of my all time favorites – Broccoli Cheese Soup! You’ll be shocked to hear that this classic is made with zero flour, butter or calorie packed creams while still being creamy, smooth and perfect for fall.
Full disclaimer – I am in no way shape or form claiming that this is a copycat recipe to Panera’s incredible broccoli cheese soup. That soup is a splurge for me and you cannot eat it in any way other than from a sourdough bread bowl. You just can’t. Although that’s my go-to Panera staple especially on a cold Fall day, there are moments when a creamy, cheesy soup would just hit the spot. More often than not I’m not trying to overdo the calorie intake with my Panera treat, so I’ve learned to make the lighter version at home.
Don’t get me wrong, there’s a time and a place for a treat but making a cheese soup at home and knowing it’s light and hearty is a talent I’m proud of. It’s pretty easy to throw together so that’s why I am excited to share my “talent” with you too.
So how do you lighten up a soup with tons of cheese and cream? That was the tough question until I got into the kitchen and started thinking this through…and then it hit me. The base (whatever I can add to thicken the soup from the beginning) needs to be nothing more than a vegetable and that was it…CAULIFLOWER is the secret here and it works perfectly. Talk about really leveling up your veggie game with a cheese soup. This soup now checks off all the boxes of a successful version of Broccoli Cheese Soup!
Here are the other ingredients you will need to have on hand to make this winning soup:
- Broth (chicken or veggie)
- Light cream cheese OR a personal recommendation – Laughing Cow Spreadable Cheese Wedges…bonus points if you go with the aged cheddar flavor!
- Broccoli, carrots and onions
- Light Cheddar
- Greek Yogurt (or low fat cream…or both)
- Mustard and seasonings!
It’s pretty simple actually but the combo of pureed cauliflower and creamy (cheddar flavored) creamed cheese gives the soup the body that it needs to really bring the broccoli and cheese together. You will also benefit from having an immersion blender (a stand-alone blender also works). I felt so immersed in a cozy fall experience making this in my kitchen in my favorite dutch oven knowing in just short of three hours of throwing it together I could curl up on the couch and indulge in the soup that I’ve been craving.
Even though this soup is usually on the top of mind when it comes to a hearty soup as a meal, I think about serving this for children (or picky eaters) knowing that there is a hidden vegetable in the base. That’s incredible. In fact, the first time I made this, it inspired cauliflower as a based for a lot of cream soups! It’s brilliant and it’s not calorie dense but fills you up with fiber, vitamins and minerals. Let’s not forget that we get our calcium out of this too.
What to pair it with? Look, I’m not going to sit here and say that a hollow, chewy, sourdough bread bowl wouldn’t be the perfect little vessel for this soup. If you want it, get it! You’re getting your veggies in so it’s a win in my book. I have learned that in an effort to keep this meal light, a little extra cheese, a slice of hearty bread and a dollop of plain, Greek yogurt is enough. Serve alongside a salad or your favorite sandwich. At the end of the day, you’re getting your vegetables in so enjoy whatever your heart desires with this.
Getting pumped up for cozy food season – consider some of these recipes too:
Light Broccoli Cheese Soup
- 18-24 ounces cauliflower florets frozen
- 5-7 cups vegetables stock
- 1 tablespoon garlic powder
- 8 ounces low fat cream cheese or Laughing Cow spreadable cheese
- ½ cup nonfat Greek yogurt plain
- ¼ cup low fat or fat free creamer plain
- 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
- 3 cups broccoli chopped, par-steamed
- 1 ¼ cups carrots shredded
- ¾ cup onion chopped
- salt and pepper to taste
- 2 cups cheddar cheese shredded
- In a large dutch oven or pot add cauliflower, broth and garlic powder. Cook on the stovetop on medium-high heat for about 40 minutes until cauliflower is tender and falling apart.
- Add cream cheese/Laughing Cow cheese and blend with an immersion blender until base is creamy.
- Add a few spoonfuls of broth to a bowl with Greek yogurt and temper. Mix into the pot of broth. Add creamer and mustard and whisk all together.
- Add in broccoli, carrots, onions, salt and pepper and stir. Add back to the stovetop and cover. Cook for about 60-90 minutes on medium heat until the broccoli and carrots soften completely.
- Remove from heat and stir in cheddar cheese. Serve hot.