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It’s so easy to make a keto Broccoli Cheese Soup that is just as cheesy and delicious as Panera Broccoli Cheddar Soup. A simple swap with some sneaky hidden cauliflower makes this healthy soup recipe velvety smooth and creamy while keeping it gluten free and low carb.
Keto Broccoli Cheese Soup – Made With Cauliflower
This comforting and easy soup recipe is a healthy copycat of Panera Broccoli Cheddar Soup, which used to be one of my favorite things. But since it isn’t gluten free, I can’t just go there anymore and order a You-Pick-Two. Now I make my own with a healthier spin.
Instead of a flour-based roux or cornstarch slurry, it’s thickened with cauliflower. Yes, if this cruciferous vegetable can become cauliflower tots, then it can certainly make a delicious soup.
Sneak in some extra veggies with cauliflower puree while keeping it low carb and gluten free. You won’t believe how creamy and silky smooth is it, with all the cheesy flavor you love.
Some keto broccoli cheese soup recipes use pureed broccoli. But by using cauliflower you still keep the carb count low without giving it a strange greenish color.
What makes this cauliflower broccoli cheddar soup healthier?
Unlike most recipes for broccoli cheese soup, there’s no cream, no butter, and no flour for thickening. This makes it naturally gluten free and low carb. Plus there are no unrefined carbs or extra fat. The cheese makes it rich and flavorful. And when you use a good quality, extra sharp cheese, you don’t have to use as much to still have it taste super cheesy.
And since the soup is made from cauliflower, plus all of the broccoli swimming in that sea of golden goodness, it is full of good vegetable nutrition. Both are low in calories and excellent sources of fiber and vitamins A, C, E, and K, as well as the B vitamins including folic acid. Broccoli is an excellent plant source of protein and calcium. And cauliflower is filled with compounds that may help prevent cancer.
Lastly, it only has 9 grams of carbs per serving. And that can easily be reduced by skipping the carrots and even using less onion. There is also the option of swapping some of the chicken broth for heavy cream if you do prefer a higher fat content for your diet needs.
This comforting broccoli cheese soup recipe feels so comforting and indulgent, but it’s made with a simple list of wholesome ingredients that are all natrually gluten free. Here’s some information you might need, but you can get the full amounts and detailed instructions in the recipe card at the bottom of the post.
- Olive oil
- Onion – feel free to use less, skip it altogether, or try a bit of onion powder to reduce the carb count further.
- Cauliflower – one large head, approximately 2 lbs total, yielding 3 to 4 cups or about 1.5 lbs of florets.
- Nutmeg – just a pinch is known to enhance the flavor of any creamy sauce.
- Dry mustard – adds sharpness to help it taste extra cheesy. I always add Colman’s Mustard Powder to my cheese or egg dishes.
- Cayenne pepper – optional, but just a pinch wakes up the flavors.
- Chicken or vegetable broth – from a carton or homemade. I typically use the Kirkland brand from Costco.
- Broccoli – about 3 cups of florets that can be fresh or frozen.
- Carrots – julienned or finely diced. It can be omitted for a keto soup, but add a nice color and texture.
- Shredded cheddar cheese – definitely opt for a nice, sharp cheddar, like Cabot Seriously Sharp.
- Salt and pepper – season to taste.
- Garnishes – add some cooked bacon, a sprinkle of more shredded cheese, or even some minced chives.
How to Make Cauliflower Broccoli Cheese Soup
You won’t believe how simple it is!
Saute the veggies. In a large pot, saute onion in olive oil. Add the cauliflower, nutmeg, dry mustard, cayenne, and a pinch of salt and pepper and saute for a minute or two.
Simmer and puree. Add the chicken broth, bring the mixture to a boil and simmer until the cauliflower is very tender. Use an immersion blender or transfer the mixture to a blender and pureee until it is smooth and creamy.
Cook the veggies. Return the soup to the pot over medium heat. Add the broccoli and carrots, and cook until the broccoli is tender.
Add the cheese. Reduce the heat to low and stir in the cheese a little at a time. Serve in bowls and sprinkle with additional shredded cheese and crumbled bacon, if desired.
Why is my broccoli cheddar soup grainy?
The first ready the soup can be grainy or clumpy is that you added the cheese too fast. If you add it all at once, it will clump and not fully melt and distribute to give you the velvety texture.
Second is that your heat is too high either while you add the cheese or after it has been added. The proteins in the cheese tighten up and cause the fat to separate, giving you a curdled consistency and a greasy soup. Once you have started adding the cheese to the soup, you want to be sure you do not let it boil.
How do you add cheese to soup?
To prevent these problems, you’ll add the cheese at the very end, after the soup is pureed, and the broccoli is cooked to the desired doneness. Then, reduce the heat to low and add the cheese a little at a time. Stir and allow each addition to melt completely and become fully distributed and smooth before adding any more. Then slowly allow it to come back to the desired temperature without letting it boil.
Storing and Reheating Leftovers
Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigertor for up to 3 to 4 days. If it begins to smell off, then throw it away.
To reheat it, transfer the leftover soup to a pot on the stove over very low heat and reheat slowly and gently to avoid boiling, as this will cause it to curdle. You can also reheat it in the microwave, but again, you’ll want to do this carefully to avoid curdling. Use 50% power and stir frequently.
Can broccoli cheese soup be frozen?
I would not recommend freezing this broccoli cauliflower cheese soup. Creamy soups typically do not freeze well, as the fats tend to separate when frozen and reheated, leading to an undesirable texture. Also, the broccoli florets will become mushy. So while not unsafe, it would not be as delicious.
This soup is truly satisfying on its own, but there are plenty of delicious options to serve with it.
- Keep it keto. Garnish with bacon or a few keto cheddar crackers.
- Add some bread. If you aren’t low carb, it’s delicious to sop it up with a hunk of Gluten Free French Bread or some Gluten Free Soft Breadsticks.
- Serve with a salad. Drizzle it with Greek Yogurt Ranch Dressing or Creamy Balsamic Vinaigrette.
- Have it as a side. Make it a meal with easy cube steaks or Air Fryer Chicken Nuggets.
Shop the Recipe
- Large pot – I like to use a heavy-bottomed pot, such as enameled cast iron. With a nice large soup pot, you can saute the vegetables in the pot, then return the pureed soup to the same pot to let it simmer. The vegetables can saute and caramelize without scorching. And while this soup doesn’t have to simmer for a long time, if you want to keep it warm, it can stay over low heat for a longer time without burning.
- Immersion blender – also called a hand blender or stick blender, an immersion blender allows you to puree the soup right in the pot without transferring it to a blender. This makes it easier, with less mess to clean up.
- Blender – you can use any blender you have, but for the smoothest, most silky soup, I love to use my Blendtec Designer 725. The Wildside+ Jar is nice and big, so you don’t have to blend it in batches, as you would with a smaller blender, and it gets perfectly smooth in seconds. You can even use the “Soup” setting to keep it hot while you blend it. I am a Blendtec ambassador, and should you make any purchases through that link, I will receive a small commission, but that also means you can use the code CUPCAKESANDKALECHIPS to receive 20% off.
- Box grater – don’t forget a good grater to shred all that cheese.
Creamy Cauliflower Broccoli Cheese Soup
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 small yellow onion chopped
- 1 head cauliflower, core removed and chopped into small florets (about 3-4 cups of florets)
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
- 1 pinch cayenne pepper
- 4 cups chicken broth or vegetable broth
- 3 cups broccoli fresh florets or frozen
- 1/3 cup julienned carrots (1-2 large carrots)
- 6 ounces shredded cheddar cheese plus more for sprinkling on top, if desired
- salt and pepper to taste
- crumbled bacon optional, for sprinkling on top
- Heat the olive oil in a large pot or dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onions and sauté until translucent, about 4-5 minutes.
- Add the cauliflower, nutmeg, dry mustard, cayenne, and a pinch of salt and peper and saute for a minute or two.
- Add the chicken broth, bring the mixture to a boil and simmer, uncovered, for least 20 minutes, or until the cauliflower is very tender, such that it can be mashed easily with a fork. You can break it up a little while it’s cooking to help speed the process along.
- Use an immersion blender, or transfer the mixture to a blender, and puree until smooth and creamy. Return the soup to the pot over medium heat and add the broccoli and carrot. Bring to simmer and cook 25 minutes, or until the broccoli is tender (if you are using frozen broccoli, you only need to cook until the broccoli is thawed and heated through)
- Reduce the heat to low and stir in the cheese a little at a time. If you want a thinner soup, add additional broth, cream, milk, or water to desired consistency. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Serve in bowls and sprinkle with additional shredded cheese and crumbled bacon, if desired.