No, You DON’T Need Chicken Broth to Make Soup, Thanks.

Every time I walk into Panera Bread, I look up at the menu and die a little on the inside because all I want is Broccoli Cheddar Soup, but of course, it’s made with chicken broth. Tell me why they can’t make it with vegetable broth?  Some of my friends like to tell me that the taste is significantly improved with the stewed dead animal base, but I will never be able to judge for myself.

When I was in Geneva last spring, I found myself thinking, What should I make for dinner? I have… broccoli. And cheese. OH HEY. Broccoli Cheddar Soup. Okay, so it may have been Broccoli Gruyère Soup, but Gruyère is better than cheddar anyway (and it IS available at Star Market in the imported/specialty cheese sections.  It’s a bit pricey, $20/lb, so I don’t really recommend adding it to your weekly/bi-monthly grocery list.)

Here’s the recipe for Panera’s Broccoli Cheddar Soup, altered to account for my vegetarianism:

Vegetarian Broccoli Cheddar Soup (Substitute Gruyère in same quantity if you’re feeling international)

  • 1 tablespoon butter, melted
  • 1/2 medium onion, chopped
  • 1/4 cup melted butter
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 2 cups half-and-half
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 1/2 pound fresh broccoli
  • 1 cup carrots, julienned
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 8 ounces grated sharp cheddar


Saute onion in butter. Set aside. Cook melted butter and flour using a whisk over medium heat for 3-5 minutes. Stir constantly and slowly add the half-and-half (this is called making a roux). Add the vegetable stock whisking all the time. Simmer for 20 minutes.

Add the broccoli, carrots and onions. Cook over low heat until the veggies are tender for 20-25 minutes. Add salt and pepper. The soup should be thickened by now. Pour in batches into blender and puree. Return to pot over low heat and add the grated cheese; stir until well blended. Stir in the nutmeg and serve.


7 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by ckfalcos on November 4, 2010 at 7:07 pm

    Yay!!!! I’ve been watching you write this and ITCHING to post a comment… I am a semi-vegetarian… meaning I try to limit the quantities of meat that I eat to a handful of times a month since I was brought up eating meat. I have had broccoli cheddar soup with chicken broth AND vegetable broth. Yes, it’s different. No, it’s not better with chicken broth. It’s just different. I actually really enjoy it with vegetable broth. 🙂


  2. NOOOOO! I had no idea it was made with chicken broth base!!!! I wish I was still blissfully ignorant. Blah. Haha, well thanks for letting me know 🙂

    P.S. Thanks for the blogroll add! I’m putting you on mine too!


  3. Posted by ckfalcos on November 4, 2010 at 7:22 pm

    Yeah… it took me a long time to realize what it was made of. I first realized when I was at Panera and saw that there was no V next to the broccoli and cheddar soup. So I asked the cashiers, who had no idea why. Then I looked up the recipe and was shocked. I had a vegetarian roommate at the time and was attempting to be more vegetarian myself, so I substituted the chicken broth for vegetable broth. I personally think that the taste is not that different.


  4. Posted by Vieshnavi on November 4, 2010 at 7:23 pm

    ❤ you Christina.

    @Jenny – I know! I'm a lifelong vegetarian so I always check these things before I eat something because I don't want to get sick/be ill (which would actually happen because my body doesn't produce the correct enzymes to digest meat. Talk about losing the evolutionary selection battle). Definitely try making this soup with Gruyère, though. I'm not kidding about its deliciousness.


  5. MMM I love broccoli cheddar soup! I have even made it with water, but you have to be sure to up the other flavor components that way. Still yummy.

    You also have to be careful ordering soup anywhere…. many times they call it “vegetarian” even though its made with meat broth. As if somehow that doesnt count.


  6. Posted by Denise on February 24, 2011 at 1:06 pm

    I want to start of by saying THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU!!! I have been searching for a vegetarian broccoli cheddar soup for what feels like forever! I have just celebrated my 1 year anniversary for being a vegetarian in January. It has been rough on my meat loving husband so I have been trying to find a way to make everything we used to love without meat. Some things he admits actually tastes better like meatless chili. I will be making this tonight! I can’t wait to try it! I really appreciate you sharing this recipe. I miss broccoli cheddar soup so much!


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