A creamy, hearty broccoli cheddar soup with the welcome addition of bacon! Such a delicious homemade soup that you'll want to make (and eat) over and over again.
Every year, we tend to zero in on one specific soup at my house and make and eat it on repeat. Broccoli Bacon Cheddar Soup is the soup this year!
It is so good, that even in the height of summer when I started making it, it was frequently requested.
And cheese-based soups are not our usual fare in 90-degree weather! The deliciousness outweighed any and all seasonal inappropriateness.
It's SO rich and creamy, jam-packed with vegetables, and the punch of bacon flavor takes it over the top.
The creamy cheddar base makes it rich and filling, but since every bite is brimming with vegetables - broccoli, potatoes, celery, carrots, and onion - it doesn't feel too heavy.
- Bacon. A surprisingly small amount of bacon for how much bacon flavor this soup has! Just 4 slices, which you'll crisp up at the beginning of the recipe, and stir back in at the end.
- Celery/carrot/onion. The usual cast of characters for soup making. You can chop these all by hand, but I highly recommend using a food processor to make the prep quicker! Just cut into large chunks, then pulse in the food processor until they're finely diced.
- Redskin Potato. Potato makes this soup even heartier! I use redskin and russets interchangeably here.
- Frozen broccoli. Love love love using frozen broccoli in this soup! It feels like such a shortcut, and it works even better than fresh broccoli. One tip is to not use a food processor to chop the broccoli - you'll end up with sad broccoli dust.
- Freshly shredded cheddar. For the smoothest texture, be sure to freshly shred your cheese! (Also something I do in the food processor.)
How to Make
Start by melting butter in a Dutch oven or large stock pot. Crisp the chopped bacon and remove to a bowl.
Cook the onion, carrot, and celery in the residual butter and bacon fat until soft. Sprinkle with flour and stir until no dry bits remain. Pour in chicken broth a splash at a time - stirring constantly and breaking up any lumps with the back of a wooden spoon.
Add potatoes, cover, and simmer for 10 minutes. Then, add the broccoli, seasonings, and milk. Cover and simmer for another 10 minutes.
Remove the pot from the heat and stir in a handful of cheese at a time. Make sure it's fully melted before adding more.
Making a smooth roux - When stirring chicken broth into the veggie + flour mixture, make sure to do just a little at a time, and stir vigorously until it's a consistent texture before adding more. If you notice any clumps, break them apart with the back of a wooden spoon. Once you've added about half the liquid, you can add the remaining in bigger splashes.
Preventing cheese from curdling - Cheese soups curdle and become grainy if they get too hot. Be sure to remove your pot from the heat BEFORE stirring in the cheese. The mixture will be hot enough to melt it without any additional heat. Use the lowest of heats to keep your soup warm before serving, and keep it off the heat as much as possible.
Using Frozen Broccoli In Soup
I tried frozen broccoli in this soup on a whim (after a long time of strictly using fresh broccoli for it) and was shocked that frozen broccoli works even better!
It cooks perfectly (no undercooked, crunchy bites), and seems especially resistant to turning yellow when cooked too long (which we all know will happen in soup).
I use a 16-ounce bag of florets (which yields about 5 cups of chopped broccoli), but a 12-ounce bag (which will give you about 4 cups) is much easier to find. Either size will work here!
I leave the broccoli out on the counter to thaw slightly while I'm prepping other vegetables - this isn't totally necessary, but does make chopping easier. Then chop into small bite-size pieces.
You'll use the whole floret - stem and all.
Leftovers + Reheating
This is a soup that is best eaten right when it's made, but any leftovers will keep for up to 5 days.
Reheat in the microwave, or on the stove using a heavy bottom pan. Use low heat and stir frequently. Otherwise, this soup can curdle when reheating.
Sadly, this is not a good soup to freeze. Dairy-based soups tend to curdle when they're reheated from frozen.
Yes! This recipe is very flexible as far as veggie swaps go.
Dairy-based soups - particularly ones with cheese in them - are prone to curdling. If you're winding up with anything other than a smooth cheese soup, you have curdling happening. To prevent this, be sure to remove your pot from the heat before stirring in any cheese, and use the lowest of heats to keep it warm and to reheat.
Eat this With
Broccoli Bacon Cheddar Soup
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 4 slices bacon, chopped
- 2 large carrots, peeled and diced
- 2 large celery stalks, diced
- 1 small yellow onion, diced
- 1/3 cup flour
- 4 cups reduced sodium chicken broth
- 2 medium redskin potatoes, peeled and diced small
- 1 (16- or 12-ounce) bag frozen broccoli crowns, diced (see note)
- 1 1/2 cups whole milk
- 1 teaspoon table salt
- 1 teaspoon dried mustard
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 16 ounces sharp cheddar, shredded
- Melt the butter in a large stockpot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the bacon and cook until fat is rendered and bacon is beginning to crisp, about 8 minutes. Remove to a bowl with a slotted spoon, reserving as much fat in the pot as you can. Add the carrot, celery, and onion and cook - stirring occasionally - until softened, about 7 minutes. Sprinkle the flour over the vegetables and stir until no dry bits of flour remain. Pour in the chicken broth a splash at a time, stirring constantly to prevent lumps. Add the potatoes and increase heat to bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook, covered, for 10 minutes.Add the broccoli, milk, salt, dried mustard, and pepper and bring to a gentle boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook, covered, for another 10 minutes, until vegetables are soft.Remove from heat and stir in the shredded cheddar a handful at a time. Once the cheese is melted, stir in the reserved bacon. Serve hot!
Great recipe! I used broccolini, (I really wanted broccoli rabe but they did not have any!) I adjusted the liquids to how thick I wanted the soup to be. Great advice about adding cheese a handful at a time and taking off stove. I think it came out great because of that! This one is a keeper! Will make it again for sure!