Crock Pot Copycat Panera Bread Broccoli Cheddar Soup

broccolibowl
As soon as the leaves start to turn and that delicious crisp bites the air I start dreaming of soups, stews, and chilis. A number of years ago, my best friend and I got together and craved some Panera Bread Broccoli Cheddar soup but wanted to make it at home. We scoured the internet for recipes and found one that sounded great so we gave it a whirl. The recipe was full of heavy cream and butter so we trimmed it down and crossed our fingers. We were both shocked and delighted at the result: Amazing Panera Bread Broccoli Cheddar Soup that was every bit as good as from the restaurant. We’ve both made our recipe many times over the years, sharing it often with friends and family. More recently, I wanted to change the recipe again, this time making it a no-fuss crock pot version. This version is just as bit as good and makes life so much simpler by dumping everything in and setting the crock pot on low. You come home to a delicious pot of home made Broccoli Cheddar soup, without the extra calories or the bill! You can still accept tips from your family, though. 🙂

Crock Pot Copycat Panera Bread Broccoli Cheddar Soup
Serves 4-6

***This is a GREAT “dump in the crock pot and run out the door” recipe. When making this recipe, I will often buy shredded carrots and bagged pre-cut fresh broccoli florets to make this recipe even quicker and save on chopping.***

  • 1/2 lb (about 3-4 cups) fresh broccoli, roughly chopped
  • 1 small onion, roughly chopped
  • 3 medium carrots, roughly chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 pint (2 cups) fat-free half-and-half (If you really want the real thing, go for it, but fat-free tastes just as good in this recipe and that means you can go back for seconds!)
  • 16 ounces shredded sharp cheddar cheese

Directions: 

1. Place the broccoli, onion, carrot, and garlic in the bottom of a large crockpot. Pour chicken stock over the veggies. Add the nutmeg, salt, and pepper and stir.

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2. Set the crock pot to LOW and cook for 6-8 hours or HIGH for 3-4 hours.

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3. Cream the soup. The easiest way is with an immersion blender but you can also transfer to a blender and then transfer back to the crock pot. If you prefer a more chunky soup, you can also use a potato masher so don’t let not having a blender or immersion blender stop you. You are dealing with hot liquids so be careful!

creamsoup

4. Immediately prior to serving, add the half-and-half and shredded cheese and stir. Allow the cheese to melt and garnish with extra cheese and serve. Yum! My family loves this recipe paired alongside my garlic knots or honey wheat crescent rolls or served inside a bread bowl.

broccolibowl2

Looking for other great copycat or crock pot recipes? Be sure to subscribe to my blog for the latest recipes or see a few of my favorite previously published fall and winter recipes below:

28 Comments on Crock Pot Copycat Panera Bread Broccoli Cheddar Soup

  1. Rod Bruce
    October 7, 2013 at 11:19 pm (6 years ago)

    Hi Jenny,
    Looks like a good recipe for frosty fall days and winter around the corner.

    Thanks,
    Rod

    Reply
    • missbutterbean
      October 17, 2013 at 1:23 pm (6 years ago)

      Oh it really is! Not sure what is better when snowed in than a delicious bowl of soup. 🙂

      Reply
  2. Sara
    November 8, 2013 at 9:02 am (6 years ago)

    Looks delicious! Have you ever tried doubling the recipe in the crockpot?

    Reply
    • missbutterbean
      November 8, 2013 at 4:57 pm (6 years ago)

      I haven’t ever doubled it but it should be fine as long as you have a large crockpot. The veggies might be a little cramped in the beginning but will cook down quite a bit during the process. Let me know how you like it! 🙂

      Reply
      • missbutterbean
        January 29, 2014 at 9:01 pm (6 years ago)

        UPDATE: I doubled it last night and it turned out just as amazing as ever. It also disappeared just as quickly.

        Reply
  3. Ashley
    February 10, 2014 at 2:41 pm (6 years ago)

    Have you ever had the soup seperate.. my cream curdled

    Reply
    • missbutterbean
      February 10, 2014 at 3:39 pm (6 years ago)

      I haven’t had that problem but if you used fat-free half-and-half and the heat was set too high that might have been the problem. Make sure it’s on the lowest setting and isn’t bubbling at all. If your crockpot just has one setting and you’re worried it might be too high of a heat you can wait to add the half-and-half until right before serving. Just add it to the pot after you’ve turned it off and have blended up the veggies and stock. Hope is still tasted yummy and hope the tips help! 🙂

      Reply
  4. Diana
    March 29, 2014 at 10:33 am (5 years ago)

    OMG this was heavenly! I used Light cream instead and so delish, also added a bit more chicken stock and salt and it was out of this world. Super creamy

    Reply
    • missbutterbean
      April 4, 2014 at 1:59 pm (5 years ago)

      So happy to hear that! 🙂

      Reply
  5. Danielle Holliday
    March 3, 2015 at 3:06 pm (4 years ago)

    Hi Jenny! I’m a new crockpot user and this is the first recipe I’m going to try!
    Is there a way to do this without blending it? I don’t have an immersion blender or a regular one.

    Thanks!

    Reply
    • missbutterbean
      May 5, 2015 at 7:14 pm (4 years ago)

      Hi Danielle,

      Apologies on the delay! A few ideas if you don’t have an immersion blender or regular one:

      – mash with a potato masher
      – finely chop up the veggies before putting them in the crockpot so it’s more of a chunky soup than a creamy one

      Hope that helps–let me know what you try and how it works out!

      Thanks,
      Jenny

      Reply
  6. Jessica H
    October 20, 2015 at 6:46 pm (4 years ago)

    Making this tomorrow! Excited for it!

    Reply
    • missbutterbean
      December 29, 2015 at 12:55 pm (4 years ago)

      Glad to hear it! Hope it was a hit! 🙂

      Reply
  7. Lizking
    January 17, 2016 at 8:25 am (4 years ago)

    Want to make this soup and freeze it in 6 one quart containers? Is this doable? Or will the half and half curdle ?

    Reply
    • missbutterbean
      January 17, 2016 at 3:37 pm (4 years ago)

      I haven’t tried freezing it before but I do know that fat free half and half typically doesn’t freeze well on its own so it might be risky. You might consider instead preparing the soup without the half and half and then adding it when you heat up the frozen soup. You could also try adding the half and half to just one of your containers to see what the verdict is so you don’t risk the entire batch. Let me know if you give it a try! Hope you enjoy!

      Reply
      • Lizking
        January 18, 2016 at 7:05 pm (4 years ago)

        So if I plan to freeze the soup. . . I should use real half and half? Not fat free?

        Reply
        • Liz
          January 18, 2016 at 8:45 pm (4 years ago)

          Did like you said and froze it without the half and half. Thanks. I’m sure we’ll enjoy.

          Reply
  8. Linda
    January 25, 2016 at 10:59 am (4 years ago)

    I made this soup last night and it was delicious! Since I didn’t have a way to blend the veggies, I diced them up pretty small and the soup had a slightly chunky consistency which we prefer. Thanks for sharing your recipe!!

    Reply
    • missbutterbean
      January 26, 2016 at 9:50 am (4 years ago)

      Thanks so much for your feedback. So happy to hear you enjoyed it!

      Reply
  9. Esther
    January 26, 2016 at 5:43 am (4 years ago)

    Can I use whole milk instead?

    Reply
    • missbutterbean
      January 26, 2016 at 10:02 am (4 years ago)

      Absolutely! Since milk isn’t as creamy as half and half, I would recommend starting with one cup of milk and then add more. Just add it at the end as usual until you get your desired creaminess.

      Reply
  10. Sarah kaiafas
    March 4, 2016 at 10:44 am (3 years ago)

    Has anyone successfully frozen this soup either before or after cooking?

    Reply
    • missbutterbean
      March 18, 2016 at 6:18 pm (3 years ago)

      Hi Sarah,

      Apologies on the delayed response! A few folks have commented with their plans to freeze and I did ask for verdicts but, unfortunately, haven’t heard any results. If you try freezing the recipe, please add a comment to let me know what you did and how it turned out. Happy cooking!

      Thanks,
      Jenny

      Reply
  11. Heather
    November 27, 2016 at 5:55 pm (3 years ago)

    Next time I will make it with mild cheddar. Found the sharp to be over powering.

    Reply
    • missbutterbean
      November 27, 2016 at 11:42 pm (3 years ago)

      Thanks for the feedback, Heather! You can definitely mix it up to suit your cheese preference. Hope you enjoy!

      Reply
  12. Valerie Larie
    December 15, 2016 at 2:46 pm (3 years ago)

    Can you use frozen broccoli florets instead of fresh?

    Reply
    • missbutterbean
      December 15, 2016 at 10:27 pm (3 years ago)

      Hi Valerie, I haven’t tried it with frozen but I don’t see why not. What I would note is there might be a little more liquid so perhaps cut the stock in half and add it at the end if it still needs it. I also would recommend cutting the cooking time in half since you’ll be working with frozen broccoli florets, which are already cooked. Give it a whirl and please let me know how it turns out for you!

      Reply

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