Broccoli Cauliflower Cheese Soup
Broccoli cheese soup is comfort food at its finest. This cheesy, rich, and warming soup is especially perfect on a cool day. Honestly, I would happily eat it any time of year though! I have been craving veggies lately, so this version is loaded up with vegetables! We used broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, celery, and onion. In this case, the more the merrier (and tastier)!
As you can see, the broccoli and cauliflower would not fit on the cutting board.
This recipe has some major nutritional upgrades compared to broccoli cheese soup. This is still not the healthiest soup recipe out there, but it is heavier on vegetables than most broccoli cheese soup recipes. Aside from all of the veggies, this recipe also uses milk instead of cream or half and half. This reduces the total calories and saturated fat. If you want just a touch of extra creaminess like we did, you may also add ¼ cup heavy cream. Enjoyment of your food is also important.
Key Tips for Success
Any time you use milk in a soup, there are a few special steps you must follow so the milk doesn’t curdle. Though perfectly edible, the soup will look far less appealing if this happens. This can be easily prevented by stabilizing the milk with a roux. Another trick to prevent the milk from curdling is to not boil it. Once you add the milk, the soup is in its final stages and should only be heated through but not brought to a boil.
This recipe uses a roux (pronounced roo), which is used to thicken the soup while maintaining a smooth texture. The roux is also necessary to ensure the cheese melts nicely into a creamy texture without separating. It is actually quite simple to make a roux. A roux is simply a mixture of equal parts of butter and flour that is cooked into a paste. By cooking it, you remove the floury flavor and will end up with a soup with a creamy texture without lumps. Once you have cooked the flour in the melted butter for a few minutes, you may add the chicken broth gradually. The broth should be added gradually to ensure the mixture is smooth.
Please buy an 8 ounce block of cheddar cheese and grate it yourself. I recommend sharp cheddar, but white, mild, medium, or extra sharp cheddar will all work just fine. I caution against using pre-shredded cheese because they contain anti-caking agents, such as cellulose or potato starch. These ingredients are perfectly safe and have a valuable role to protect the integrity of the product. However, they interfere with how the cheese melts, so it's best to grate the cheese yourself. Look at all of that cheese! YUM!
It is perfectly acceptable to use frozen broccoli and cauliflower in this recipe. We had fresh cauliflower on hand but only had frozen broccoli. Guess what...they are both equally nutritious as long as the frozen varieties are not in a sauce. One key advantage of using frozen is that the pieces are already clean and cut up for you. No one will even know you used this little shortcut as long as you do not overcook it. This is why you need to add the broccoli and cauliflower at different stages when preparing this recipe depending on if you use fresh or frozen.
Though this soup is perfect on its own, we elevated it with the addition of candied ham pieces! They are so tasty and easy to prepare. I plan to post this recipe soon! The soup is still marvelous on its own and is a hearty way to eat more veggies, which are tasty and so good for you!
Broccoli Cauliflower Cheese Soup
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, diced
2 celery ribs, diced
2 large carrots, diced
½ tsp garlic powder
3 cups cauliflower, chopped or 1 10-oz package of frozen cauliflower florets
3 cups broccoli, chopped or 1 10-oz package of frozen broccoli florets
¼ cup butter
¼ cup all-purpose flour
2 cups chicken broth
2 cups 2% milk
1/4 cup heavy cream [optional]
1 8-oz block sharp cheddar cheese, grated
Pinch of nutmeg
Pinch of cayenne pepper
Salt and pepper, to taste
In a large pot, sauté the onion, celery, carrots, and garlic powder in the olive oil over medium-high for about 5 minutes, stirring constantly. If using fresh cauliflower and broccoli, add to the vegetables and cook over medium heat for another 5-7 minutes. Season the vegetables lightly with salt and pepper. If using frozen cauliflower and broccoli, you will add it later so it doesn’t become overcooked.
In a medium saucepan, prepare the roux. Melt the butter. Once melted, stir in the flour and cook for about 3 minutes over medium-low heat, stirring constantly. The mixture will be very thick and bubbly. Slowly add in the chicken broth, whisking constantly to prevent lumps. Cook for a couple minutes. Once smooth, pour the broth mixture over the vegetables in the large pot and mix well. If using frozen cauliflower and broccoli, add to the roux and vegetable mixture at this time.
Simmer this mixture over medium-low heat for about 10 minutes or until the vegetables are cooked. It will be a fairly thick mixture.
Once the vegetables are cooked to your desired tenderness, add the milk and heavy cream, if using. Heat until the mixture is hot, but not boiling, over medium heat. Stir in cheddar cheese until it is completely melted and the soup is creamy. Season with nutmeg, cayenne pepper, salt, and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.
Top with additional shredded cheddar cheese and candied ham, if desired.
Photos of the Process
Start with your veggies (be sure to clean them):
Peel and dice into small pieces:
Chop your cauliflower:
I used frozen broccoli as a short-cut:
Once you have cooked your vegetables and prepared your roux with chicken broth, this is what your mixture will resemble. Do NOT add the milk until the vegetables are cooked to your desired doneness. We prefer ours al dente rather than mushy:
Grate you block of cheese. You may add it to the soup once you have added the milk and cream:
Stir it up, add final seasonings, and serve! The bowls below are topped with extra freshly grated cheddar cheese and candied ham: