Broccoli-Cheddar Soup with Bacon and Homemade Croutons

Growing up, I’ve always eaten a version of this soup that looked more like a bowl of watery cheese with a few sad chunks of broccoli florets tossed in. I’ve always thought that was how broccoli-cheese soup was supposed to look, as well as taste. That turned out to be pure horsepucky.

While not too many pureed soups look appealing, you’ve gotta trust me when I say that this is a delicious bowl of soup that highlights the main ingredient, the broccoli, with sharp cheddar cheese and salty parmigiano-reggiano as the supporting cast. It’s then topped with crispy applewood smoked bacon and homemade croutons that soak up this deliciousness perfectly. You could also hollow out a small round loaf, toast it up and pour this soup inside as a bread-bowl.

Broccoli Cheddar Soup

This soup is green and very creamy. It almost looks like a pea soup or something. But nope, that’s just how real broccoli-cheese soup looks without all of the heavy milks and creams that just mask the true flavor. As a matter of fact, the only liquid ingredient we’re adding to the broccoli is plain water and broth. We let the broccoli and cheese marry to give us that silky smooth cheese texture — and despite the color, you absolutely taste the cheese.

The texture of this soup depends on who’s making it. Some may want to fully puree it, some may want to leave a few pieces whole — neither prototype is wrong here! Please finish this however you’d like to your own tastes. I like just a few chunkier pieces of broccoli left in, personally. The bacon on top really puts it on a new level of flavor. I really think that fans of the crispy pig will enjoy that part.

Best thing about this soup? It’s super quick and can be done for a comforting weeknight meal. You just need a good blender or a food processor, or even a hand-held blender may work.

Broccoli Cheddar Soup

melt the butter

Broccoli Cheddar Soup

Broccoli Cheddar Soup

add the broccoli, onion, seasonings and start stirring

Broccoli Cheddar Soup

continue cooking it down until its fragrant, about 5 to 6 minutes

Broccoli Cheddar Soup

this is after you’ve added water & baking soda mixture, and cooked it down for 10 minutes..we’re almost there.

notice all of the natural liquid seeping out? that's flavor! pure broccoli realness.

notice all of the natural liquid seeping out? that’s flavor! pure broccoli realness.

we've successfully cooked the broccoli and onion mixture down and it's ready for the next step.

we’ve successfully cooked the broccoli and onion mixture down and it’s ready for the next step. there may be a layer of bits stuck to the bottom of the pan, don’t worry about that. when we add the remaining liquids, it will lift up and flavor the soup.

add the spinach!

add the spinach and other liquids.

add the other liquids and the spinach and cook until wilted, about a minute.

cook for about a minute, or until spinach is wilted down.

transfer half of your soup mixture to a blender or food processor. add half of both cheeses and blend until smooth. repeat.

transfer half of your soup mixture to a blender or food processor. add half of both cheeses and blend until smooth. repeat.

after both batches have been blended, add them back to the pot and bring to a simmer.

after both batches have been blended, add them back to the pot and bring to a simmer.

top with croutons, bacon, more parmigano-reggiano cheese, and serve.

top with croutons, bacon, more parmigano-reggiano cheese, and serve.

Broccoli Cheddar SoupBroccoli Cheddar Soup

melt the butter and oil over medium heat in a skillet

melt the butter and oil over medium heat in a skillet

Homemade Croutons

when the foaming subsides…

add the bread. quickly toss around so that it soaks up the oil/butter mixture evenly.

add the bread. quickly toss around so that it soaks up the oil/butter mixture evenly.

continue stirring around until all pieces are golden brown, about 5-10 minutes.

continue stirring around until all pieces are golden brown, about 5-10 minutes.

finally, toss with the seasonings until evenly coated and serve.

finally, toss with the seasonings until evenly coated and serve.

Broccoli-Cheddar Soup with Bacon and Homemade Croutons
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
adapted from CI
Author:
Serves: 4-6
Ingredients
For the croutons:
  • 2 cups bread, chopped into cubes
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • pinch of garlic powder
  • pinch of cayenne pepper
  • sea salt & black pepper
For the soup:
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 2 lbs fresh broccoli, florets and stems chopped into 1" pieces
  • 1 medium yellow onion, coarsely choppped
  • 3 small garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard
  • ⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 3 cups water
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 cups baby spinach
  • 2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • 6 oz sharp cheddar (white or yellow), chopped into chunks
  • 1 cup parmigiano-reggiano cheese, finely grated (plus more for topping)
  • 4 slices applewood smoked bacon, cooked crisp and roughly chopped
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Sea salt & Black Pepper, to taste
Instructions
For the croutons:
  1. There are two ways you can prepare the croutons. On top of the stove or in the oven. Here are instructions for both methods.
Skillet Instructions:
  1. In a large pan, melt the butter and olive oil together over medium heat. When the foaming subsides, add the bread cubes and toss frequently until all pieces are coated. Continue stirring around until all pieces are golden brown and crisp, about 5-10 minutes. Toss the hot croutons with the seasonings until evenly distributed. Serve with soup.
Oven Instructions:
  1. Pre-heat your oven to 400 degrees. In a bowl, melt the butter and olive oil in the microwave, covered, for about 30 seconds. Toss the bread into the butter and oil mixture and make sure each piece is evenly coated. Place buttered bread cubes on a baking sheet and bake until all pieces are golden brown, about 10 minutes. Please keep an eye on it! When they're toasted to your liking, toss them with the seasonings and serve.
For the soup:
  1. In a large pot or dutch-oven, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Add the chopped broccoli, onion, garlic, mustard, red pepper flakes, cayenne and 1 teaspoon of regular salt. Cook the mixture down until fragrant, while stirring frequently for about 5 to 6 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium.
  2. Stir the baking soda in 1 cup of water, and add to the broccoli mixture (the baking soda breaks down the fibers of the broccoli to make it softer to puree later). Bring to a simmer, cover and cook until very soft, about 20 minutes -- stirring only once.
  3. Add 2 cups of chicken or vegetable broth, plus 2 more cups of water. Increase the heat to medium-high. When it starts to simmer, add the spinach and cook until wilted for about 1 minute.
  4. Transfer half of the soup to either a food processor or blender. Add half of both cheeses (3oz of the cheddar, ½ cup of the parm) and blend until you've reached your desired consistency and all visible chunks of cheese are no longer visible. Feel absolutely free to leave some whole pieces of broccoli in your soup if you choose to. Pour the blended soup into a separate bowl. Repeat this process with the remaining half of the soup and cheeses and bring back to the pot or dutch-oven. Bring to a simmer over medium heat until heated through. Adjust texture by adding more water if desired, a little at a time. I ended up adding just ¼ cup more of water but this is where you are in total control of the outcome. Adjust it to your own personal needs. Taste and season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.
  5. Serve and top with croutons, bacon, and more grated parmigiano-reggiano if you'd like.
  6. Enjoy!
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Comments

  1. Tenia says

    I made this last night, not only was it quick to make, but it was VERY flavorful and delicious. Because I cook for just one, I scaled the recipe down to fit just me, I used Asiago cheese since its what I had on hand and OMG!! Thank you for sharing this recipe.

  2. nikkisaa says

    Girl YES. This soup is everything and more. I used sourdough bread for the croutons and MY GAWD! Thank you for posting new recipes.

  3. Barbara VanGinhoven says

    Just made this tonight. From the Midwest and try to do soup once a week. This is by far the BEST broccoli cheese soup I have ever made. So fresh and full of flavor. Love the homemade croutons and bacon, totally makes it a meal.

  4. Lisa says

    Well I tried the recipe tonight because there was broccoli in the fridge and my dad orders this from Ruby Tuesday all the time. I must say it was awesome, easy and so tasty. I didn’t put any spinach but it was still great. It was better than the restaurant and my dad loves it.
    Thanks for the great recipe

  5. Ashley says

    I cooked this dish and my boyfriend loved it! This dish was so super tasty and creamy. You are my go-to for recipes now

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