If you love broccoli cheese soup, but not all of the calories, then this healthy broccoli cheese soup recipe is for you. Made with pre-cooked rotisserie chicken and a few other tricks to make it quick and easy, this chicken broccoli soup recipe is perfect for a light weeknight dinner idea!
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If you love Panera broccoli cheese soup, but want a healthier option, this healthy broccoli cheese soup recipe is for you. Thick and creamy with big chunks of broccoli, carrots and chicken, this healthier option tastes just like the real deal.
Made with a couple of shortcuts, this chicken broccoli soup recipe includes cauliflower to make the soup extra cream and shredded rotisserie chicken for added protein. You would never guess this delicious, savory, cheesy soup is on the lighter side!
Here’s how this delicious chicken broccoli soup comes together
What do I need to make chicken broccoli soup?
- Olive oil
- Medium yellow onion
- 1 (16 oz) bag, frozen cauliflower
- 1 (32 oz) carton, low-sodium chicken broth
- 2-3 large carrots
- Fresh broccoli (I used 2 small/medium crowns, which was about 5 cups, diced)
- Pre-cooked, shredded chicken – store-bought rotisserie chicken works well
- 1 (8 oz) pkg, shredded cheese, cheddar blend, or Mexican blend melts the best
- Spices: ground nutmeg, ground pepper and garlic salt
First step in making healthy broccoli cheese soup:
Start by heating the olive oil and adding the diced onions and garlic. Sautee for 5-7 minutes or until the onions are mostly translucent.
While the onions and garlic are cooking, place the frozen cauliflower in a microwave safe bowl, add a bit of water and microwave for 5 minutes to steam. The cauliflower will be thawed and slightly soft.
Next, create a cauliflower puree for the soup base
A great shortcut to this recipe is making a cauliflower puree that adds some nice flavor and creaminess to this soup, without adding many calories.
Start by adding the sauteed onions and garlic to a blender along with the steamed cauliflower and half of the chicken broth. Blend until smooth and creamy – about 45-60 seconds.
Safety Tip: Be sure to vent the lid of the blender anytime you are blending something hot. This allows steam to escape. I have a BlendTec Designer Series Blender that has lids with a center vent that pops out. Lightly cover the opening with a towel while blending to let the steam escape, and to keep any splashing to a minimum.
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Steam broccoli and carrots while creating soup base
To the same microwave-safe bowl, add the diced broccoli and carrots with about a 1/2 cup of water. Microwave on high for 5 minutes to steam the vegetables. Pre-steaming the vegetables cuts down on time needed for the soup to cook.
While the vegetables are steaming in the microwave, add the cauliflower/onion puree back to the stock pot along with the rest of the vegetable broth. Also add the spices and shredded chicken. Once the broccoli and carrots are done steaming, add these to the soup as well.
Stir everything together and heat over medium heat until the soup comes to a low boil/simmer. Simmer over medium-low heat for 5 minutes.
Final step: Add in the shredded cheese
Once the soup has simmered for 5 minutes, add the shredded cheese, stir in to the soup, and simmer for 5 more minutes.
Remove from heat and let the soup sit for 5 minutes before serving.
What goes with Healthy Broccoli Cheese Soup?
Here are some of my favorite recipes that would go perfectly with this chicken broccoli soup recipe:
Frequently asked questions about making healthy chicken broccoli soup
Most recipes call for either cheddar or a blend of cheddar, jack and American. I like to use a blend, as it melts better and doesn’t separate.
Start by reducing the amount of cheese, and substitute with a cauliflower puree to keep it creamy. Another option is to add chicken to increase the protein and volume of the soup. This will also help keep you fuller, longer.
To make your broccoli cheese soup taste like Panera’s, be sure to puree onions and garlic into the broth, which will add to the flavor. Use a cheese blend (not just cheddar), like Mexican shredded cheese. Lastly, dice your broccoli and carrots very small. This will help the vegetables cook evenly and also reduce the time it takes to cook.
Love this Healthy Chicken Broccoli Cheese Soup recipe? Check out these other delicious soup recipes:
- 2 Tbsp. olive oil
- 1 medium yellow onion, diced (about 1 cup)
- 1 Tbsp. minced garlic (3-4 cloves)
- 1 (16 oz) bag, frozen cauliflower florets
- 1 (32 oz) carton, low-sodium chicken broth
- 1 cup diced carrots (2-3 large carrots)
- 5 cups diced fresh broccoli (about 2 small/medium crowns)
- 10 oz. shredded, cooked chicken (about 2 1/2 cups)
- 1 tsp. garlic salt
- 1 tsp. ground black pepper
- 1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
- 1 (8 oz.) pkg., shredded Mexican blend cheese
- In a large stock pot or Dutch oven, add the olive oil and heat over medium-high heat. Add the diced onions and garlic and sauté for 5-7 minutes or until onions are nearly translucent.
- While onions and garlic are cooking, place frozen cauliflower into a microwave safe bowl, with about 1/2 cup of water and microwave on high for 5 minutes to steam.
- Place the steamed cauliflower, sauteed onions and garlic and half of the chicken broth into a blender. Blend on medium-high speed for 45-60 seconds or until creamy and smooth. Add puree back to stock pot.
- In same microwave bowl, add the diced carrots and broccoli. Add 1/2 cup water and microwave on high for 5 minutes to steam.
- Add the steamed broccoli and carrots to the cauliflower puree. Also add the shredded chicken, garlic salt, pepper and nutmeg. Add remaining chicken broth and stir. Heat over medium heat until soup comes to a low boil/simmer. Simmer for 5 minutes.
- Stir in the shredded cheese and simmer for an additional 5 minutes.
- Remove from heat and let cool for 5 minutes before ladling into bowls and serving. Top with additional shredded cheese, if desired.
For chicken: store-bought rotisserie chicken works well.
- For cheese: Any cheddar blend works well. I like the flavor of Mexican blend.
- For blending: feel free to use an emersion blender to blend the cauliflower, onions, garlic and broth. Keeping these ingredients in the same stockpot helps with clean-up. You can also add half of the steamed broccoli to the blender to make the soup smoother and less chunky.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 6 Serving Size: 1 1/2 cups
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 255Total Fat: 13gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 9gCholesterol: 49mgSodium: 409mgCarbohydrates: 19gFiber: 8gSugar: 6gProtein: 19g