Everyone knows that the best Panera soup is their broccoli cheese soup (their French Onion is pretty good too). This Broccoli Cheddar Soup recipe in the Instant Pot makes the delicious, comforting and hearty soup an easy weeknight dinner.
Easy recipes are my go to; and when I’m looking to feed the whole family and not spend a ton of money on eating out, a good copycat recipe is always nice to have on hand.
If you like a panera broccoli cheddar soup cup as much as I do, this recipe is for you. This thick soup features a creamy cheesy base, chock full of veggies and select seasonings. It’s one of those craveable meals that you’ll be making over and over again, any time of day.
My order at Panera is the same, every time – a big, steaming bowl of Panera’s Broccoli Cheddar Soup with crusty bread. Sometimes I’ll get it as a side with a sandwich but usually, especially in the winter, I just go all-in and get only soup.
I’m a big soup person. My favorites include chicken noodle soup, butternut squash bisque, beef stew, crab soup, minestrone and of course, this broccoli and carrot mixture. The ultimate of vegetable soups without it just being floating pieces of veg.
Velvety smooth cheese sauce with chunks of broccoli and carrots, you just can’t go wrong. And making it at home means no artificial preservatives or ingredients you can’t pronounce.
Why This Broccoli Cheddar Soup is Different
While being a copycat recipe, this soup is also different in it’s own way. You’ll love it just as much as I do!
- Secret ingredient – I add nutmeg to my broccoli soup. Now hear me out- it adds a warmth and a little oomph to this easy dinner that’s just to die for.
- No whisking required – A lot of soups made on the stovetop require constant whisking- not here! You let the Instant Pot do all the work for you.
- Great texture – This soup is the perfect blend of creamy and crunchy. Veggies like carrots and broccoli add some texture, while the cream and cheese make is creamy.
Broccoli Cheddar Soup Ingredients
What makes this one of the best instant pot soup recipes? Well, first and foremost, because it’s easy. Just a handful of ingredients, most of which you probably already have on hand is all you need to make this creamy soup.
- Unsalted butter – I always opt to use unsalted butter when cooking and baking. It allows me to control the amount of salt.
- Diced onion – Onion gives this soup a lot of flavor, but also adds another veggie into the mix. You can use yellow onion or white onion.
- Flour – Because this is a cream soup, we need some sort of thickening agent. The flour does just that. Corn starch can also work if you wish to keep it gluten-free.
- Garlic – You can never have too much garlic- that’s my motto! It’s one of my favorite ways to add flavor to a dish. Even though we are saving time, use fresh garlic instead of jarred.
- Carrot – Panera’s soup includes carrots. If you aren’t a fan of them, feel free to substitute with more fresh broccoli florets, or leave them out all together. It does balance the savory flavors with a hint of sweet.
- Broccoli – You can’t have a broccoli cheese soup recipe without broccoli! It gives flavor and substance to this delicious soup.
- Nutmeg – This is the secret ingredient to this copycat panera broccoli cheddar soup! We add just a pinch of nutmeg to provide a unique and distinct flavor. Buy whole nutmeg and grate it yourself for maximum flavor.
- Vegetable broth or chicken broth – I also like to use unsalted chicken stock or vegetable stock so that I control the amount of salt, but whatever you have on hand works great too! To keep it vegetarian, don’t use the chicken base.
- Heavy cream – To get a creamy broccoli soup, we need a little cream!
- Cheddar cheese – If you really like the cheesy flavor in this soup, feel free to use a sharp cheddar cheese. I always prefer using freshly grated cheese, which means grating my own cheese. It melts better and has better flavor.
- Salt and black pepper – Add this to taste, or even let each person add their own.
How to Make the Best Broccoli Cheddar Soup
The Instant Pot makes this recipe as simple as 1, 2, 3!
- Sauté butter and onion. First, use your Instant Pot on the sauté function, adding the butter and onion. Cook for about 2 minutes.
- Make roux. Next add the flour and garlic, sautéing that for an additional 2 minutes until it makes a paste.
- Add veggies and stock. Next, add the carrots, broccoli, nutmeg and stock (or whichever you’re using.)
- Set to high pressure. Change the setting on your Instant Pot to manual, high pressure and set for 15 minutes. Use the quick release method.
- Add cream and cheese. Stir in the cream and cheddar cheese. Now is when you season the soup to your liking with fine sea salt and freshly ground pepper and enjoy!
- Serve. Bread is optional, but always welcome.
If you’re feeling in need of an additional dose of comfort food, try serving this in a bread bowl. Or at least with a few crusty slices of sourdough bread. Delicious. And if you want it hot, add some red pepper flakes or a dash of cayenne pepper.
Oh, and for those of you with kids, this soup is a great way to sneak in an extra serving of veggies! Though, really, that’s a good trick for adults too! And if you need more that do this, check out my meatball soup too!
Double the Recipe, Double the Fun!
Want to make a big batch? Please note that you can easily double this soup by doubling the amount of ingredients, but you do not need to change the cooking time.
However, this depends on the size of your pressure cooker. This fits perfectly into a 6 quart IP, use a larger IP to double up.
Generally speaking, never fill your pressure cooker more than 1/2 to 2/3 full, although with raw broccoli, there is a ton of air between, so this is hard to judge. You should be fine in a 6qt or larger pressure cooker.
Slow Cooker & Stove Top Instructions
You can make this cream of broccoli soup in the slow cooker too! Follow the directions, but instead of putting it on manual pressure for 15 minutes, put it on high for 2-3 hours and then resume the instructions.
If you’d rather make it on the stovetop, you can do that too. You can follow the same directions, but in a Dutch oven or large stock pot over medium heat. Allow to simmer for about 1 hour.
Storage & Freezing
This soup is easily stored and frozen.
How to Store Broccoli Cheddar Soup
Just like freezing any leftover soup, store leftovers in an airtight container or plastic bag. Soup can be stored in the fridge for up to 5 days.
How to Freeze Broccoli Cheddar Soup
It will stay in the freezer for up to 3-4 months. Reheat in a saucepan over low heat or in the microwave. You can also use a microwavable cup or microwave soup cup.
More Instant Pot Recipes
The Instant Pot has quickly become one of my favorite kitchen appliances. Check out some of my favorite recipes to use it with.
Broccoli Cheddar Soup Recipe
- Set the Instant Pot to the saute function. Add the butter and onion, saute for 2 minutes.
- Add the flour and garlic, saute for an additional 2 minutes. Add the carrots, broccoli, nutmeg and vegetable stock.
- Change setting to manual, high pressure and set for 15 minutes.
- Use quick release method. Stir in the cream and cheddar cheese. Season to your liking with salt and pepper. Broccoli should easily break into small pieces. Serve hot.
- If you've tried this recipe, make sure to come back and let us know how you liked it!