A vibrant, vegetable-forward spin on classic broccoli cheddar soup made with potatoes, turnips, and rich vegetable broth. This version combines broccoli stems, potatoes, turnips, and broth for a rich base that doesn’t need added milk or cream.
We’ve entered the part of the fall season where lots of favorite spring ingredients are making a return. In the garden, my lettuce, cabbage, greens, and radishes are all thriving. At the markets, broccoli, beets, turnips, and carrots abound. To make the most of all this bounty, I’ve got a vivid green broccoli cheddar soup that’s perfect for fall, spring, or any season where you can get your hands on a big head of broccoli.
Broccoli Cheddar Soup: Vibrant Color is All in the Details
This soup is a vibrant spring green, with a velvety pureed texture and tiny green broccoli florets on top. Preserving the vibrant color through the cooking process isn’t hard, you’ll just need to pay a little extra attention as the soup cooks. First, cook the onions low and slow in a covered pot to prevent browning. Simmer the broccoli stems, potatoes, turnips, and broccoli stems in rich vegetable broth for a creamy base with deep flavor and then add the florets at the very end and keep a close eye as they briefly steam.
Next, quickly puree the soup and reheat gently. I tested the recipe using my immersion blender and the resulting puree was a bit more grainy than I’d like. I recommend using a countertop blender to get the silkiest puree possible. This is a relatively big batch of soup, so use caution and puree in batches.
A Creamy Base without the Cream
To create a lighter broccoli cheddar soup, I used a blend of broccoli stems, potatoes, turnips, and homemade vegetable broth for the base. The result is a soup that has tons of flavor, highlights the sharp flavor of aged cheddar beautifully, and doesn’t require extra cream or milk.
Cheddar: Use the Good Stuff
You’ll want to use a nice sharp cheddar here. You can use yellow or white cheddar, though white cheddar helps preserve the pretty green hue of the soup.
Top It Off
I’m a firm believer that the best part of a soup is having something crunchy or cheesy alongside to dip or crumble into the soup. Here, I went with simple cheddar croutons.
The best croutons have lots of olive oil, sea salt, and pepper, and are toasted to perfection so they have crispy edges with a bit of chew in the center. Here, they’re topped with melty cheese, too.
The other garnishes are thinly sliced white and purple radishes (from my garden!) and little broccoli florets. I prepped the florets by covering them with boiling water for one minute and then tossing them with ice water. You could also just toss them into the soup once it’s been pureed and let them steam briefly there, but I like the way the blanched florets contrast with the soup.
As with all things in the kitchen, you can make your soup as fancy or as simple as you’d like it to be.
A vibrant, vegetable-forward spin on classic broccoli cheddar soup made with potatoes, turnips, and rich vegetable broth. This version combines broccoli stems, potatoes, turnips, and broth for a rich base that doesn't need added milk or cream. Recipe adapted from this Sarah Jampel recipe in Bon Appetit.
Rich vegetable broth carries much of the flavor here. Use homemade vegetable or chicken broth or, if using store bought, I've found Imagine's No Chicken Vegetable Broth has excellent flavor.
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 large yellow onion, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, smashed peeled, and minced
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon ground chili or red pepper flakes
- Sea salt
- 2 pounds broccoli
- 2 medium Yukon gold potatoes, cut into a 1/2-inch cube (2 cups cubed)
- 1 medium turnip, trimmed, peeled, and cut into a 1/2-inch cube (1 cup cubed)
- 4 cups homemade or low-sodium store bought vegetable broth
- 8 ounces cheddar cheese shredded, divided
- 2 - 3 radishes, sliced thin and sprinkled with sea salt
- 1/2 a baguette sliced 1/2-inch thick on a diagonal into 8 slices
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- Flaky sea salt
- Fresh ground pepper
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Set a large, wide pot over medium-low heat. Melt the butter and add the onions. Sprinkle with sea salt and ground chili or red pepper flakes. Cover the pot and cook for 7 minutes.
Meanwhile, cut the broccoli stem from the florets. Trimand discard any woody or fibrous edges from the broccoli stem. Cut into a 1/2 -inch cube. Divide florets into 1-inch sections. Save a half cup of the littlest florets for the garnish.
Add potatoes, turnips, and broccoli stems to the pot and stir. Add 4 cups vegetable or chicken broth, bring mixture to a boil, then turn heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer 20 - 25 minutes, or until vegetables are fork tender. Add the broccoli florets and cook until just tender and bright green, about 2 minutes.
Working in batches, puree the soup until very smooth. Return soup to the pot, turn heat to the lowest setting, fold in all but ½ cup cheddar, and stir until melted. Add sea salt and pepper to taste.
Meanwhile, make the croutons. Arrange baguette slices on a baking sheet. Drizzle on both sides with olive oil, and sprinkle with sea salt and pepper. Slide into oven and bake 5 minutes. Flip croutons and top with reserved cheese. Bake 5 minutes more, or until croutons are golden and cheese is bubbly.
If making the broccoli garnish, set reserved florets in a heatproof bowl, add a pinch of sea salt, and cover with boiling water. Let sit 1 minute, drain, and cover with ice water. Drain and pat dry with a towel.
To serve, ladle into bowls, garnish with florets and sliced radishes, and add a crouton or two to each bowl.