Skinny Broccoli Cheese Soup

by Anjali @ The Picky Eater on September 24, 2013

broccoli

One of the husband’s favorite soups is Broccoli Cheese (or Broccoli Cheddar) Soup.

Warm, gooey, cheesy, rich – there are a lot of things to love about Broccoli Cheese Soup.

What I don’t love is the fact that one tiny cup of the traditional recipe can run you over 400 calories and 18g saturated fat. That’s because most versions of this recipe end up being more like “cheese soup with a tiny bit of broccoli” 🙂

I have been looking for a way to healthify this recipe for a while now, and I was so excited when I came across this recipe from Cooking Light!

I managed to make the Cooking Light version even healthier by making it veggie-friendly (traditional broccoli cheese soup recipes use chicken stock) and adding in even more broccoli without losing any of the cheesy goodness.

And the best part — this recipe takes less than 30 minutes to make! Serve it with some crusty bread and you’ve got yourself a delicious, light, dinner.

The Ingredients

  • 3 cups unsalted vegetable stock
  • 4 cups broccoli florets, coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup diced yellow onion
  • 1 chopped carrot
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 + 1/8 cup half-and-half
  • 4 ounces shredded reduced-fat extra-sharp cheddar cheese, divided
  • 1/4 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves (optional, garnish)

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The Directions

Step 1:  Combine first 7 ingredients in a large saucepan; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes or until broccoli is tender.

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Step 2: Turn off the heat. Using an immersion (hand) blender, blend the soup until it’s creamy. [Alternatively if you don’t have a hand blender you can use a regular blender: Pour soup into a blender. Remove center piece of blender lid (to allow steam to escape); secure lid on blender. Place a clean towel over opening in blender lid (to avoid splatters). Blend until smooth. Return soup to pan.]

Step 3: Stir in 1/4 cup + 1/8 cup half-and-half and 2 ounces cheese. You don’t need to turn the stove back on again, the residual heat from the soup should melt the cheese.

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Step 4: Top evenly with remaining 1 tbsp cheese per bowl and parsley.

soup 2

This is comfort food at its best: delicious (thanks to the cheese and cream) but also nutritious (thanks to the fiber and phytochemicals from the broccoli – which have anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory properties).

The husband loved this recipe and we managed to finish all of the soup between the two of us!

Skinny Broccoli Cheese Soup

Total Time: 28 minutes

Yield: 4 servings

Serving Size: 1/4 of the prepared soup recipe + 1 Tbsp cheese

Calories per serving: 110

Fat per serving: 6g

Nutritional Info Per Serving: 110 Calories, 6g Fat, 458mg Sodium, 8.6g Carbs, 3.9g Fiber, 0.9g Sugar, 7.7g Protein

Ingredients

  • 3 cups unsalted vegetable stock
  • 4 cups broccoli florets, coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup diced yellow onion
  • 1 chopped carrot
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 + 1/8 cup half-and-half
  • 4 ounces shredded reduced-fat extra-sharp cheddar cheese, divided
  • 1/4 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves (optional, garnish)

Directions

  1. Combine first 7 ingredients in a large saucepan; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes or until broccoli is tender.
  2. Turn off the heat. Using an immersion (hand) blender, blend the soup until it's creamy. [Alternatively if you don't have a hand blender you can use a regular blender: Pour soup into a blender. Remove center piece of blender lid (to allow steam to escape); secure lid on blender. Place a clean towel over opening in blender lid (to avoid splatters). Blend until smooth. Return soup to pan.]
  3. Stir in 1/4 cup + 1/8 cup half-and-half and 2 ounces cheese. You don't need to turn the stove back on again, the residual heat from the soup should melt the cheese.
  4. Top evenly with remaining 1 tbsp cheese per bowl and parsley.

Notes

Adapted from Cooking Light

http://pickyeaterblog.com/skinny-broccoli-cheese-soup/
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{ 91 comments… read them below or add one }

dixya| food, pleasure, and health September 24, 2013 at 2:11 pm

I could totally take this right now. Love your bright yellow cup 🙂

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Anjali @ The Picky Eater September 24, 2013 at 4:38 pm

Hehe thanks Dixya!

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Bill September 25, 2013 at 11:55 am

This looks so delicious. Thanks for sharing!

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Anjali @ The Picky Eater September 25, 2013 at 2:52 pm

Thanks Bill!! Enjoy!

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Jill September 25, 2013 at 3:06 pm

My husband’s favorite as well – thanks for a healthier version!!

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Anjali @ The Picky Eater September 25, 2013 at 3:21 pm

No problem!! I can’t wait to hear how he likes this recipe — if he’s anything like my husband he will love it! 🙂

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Jill September 29, 2013 at 3:51 pm

Made this today – delish!! Thanks again:)

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Anjali @ The Picky Eater September 29, 2013 at 9:47 pm

Wonderful!! So happy to hear that Jill!

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organic box September 25, 2013 at 6:19 pm

This looks so good! I have also noticed that a lot of broccoli and cheese soups are more just… cheese soups.

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Anjali @ The Picky Eater September 26, 2013 at 8:25 am

Yes!! Exactly — which you know, tastes great but isn’t so great for your waistline 🙂 Hope you enjoy this made-over version!!

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priti September 25, 2013 at 6:53 pm

hi anjali! love your blog 🙂 any reason you didnt use fat free half and half here? thanks!

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Anjali @ The Picky Eater September 26, 2013 at 8:40 am

Hi Priti! Thank you so much!! That’s actually a great question. I didn’t use fat free half and half because while it sounds healthy, it’s actually a highly processed ingredient. Regular half and half is exactly that: half cream and half milk (so it really should have just two ingredients). Fat free half and half is made by replacing butterfat (a mostly saturated fat) with corn syrup and adding chemicals and thickeners to simulate the texture and mouth-feel of fat.

The ingredients list for fat free half and half is: skim milk, corn syrup, cream, and “less than 0.5 percent of the following: Carrageenan, Sodium Citrate, Dipotassium Phosphate, Mono and Diglycerides, Vitamin A Palmitate, Color Added (Ingredient not in regular half-and-half).” So I prefer to use regular half and half (which is closer to a whole food) and just use less of it, versus using more of the fat free version. Plus, a little bit of fat is good for you! 🙂 I hope that helps, let me know if you have any other questions!!

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Jennifer October 28, 2013 at 4:03 pm

I was wondering the same question. Thanks for answering that one!

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Anjali @ The Picky Eater October 28, 2013 at 4:07 pm

No problem! Glad it was helpful! 🙂

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Toree Crocker September 25, 2013 at 10:30 pm

OMG that looks delicious im definitely going to try this recipe.

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Anjali @ The Picky Eater September 26, 2013 at 8:41 am

Thanks Toree!! I’m sure you will love this soup!

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zaklina September 26, 2013 at 2:14 am

I’ve made this last night and it tasted delicious! x

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Anjali @ The Picky Eater September 26, 2013 at 8:42 am

Awesome!!! So happy to hear that Zaklina!

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Kendra September 27, 2013 at 10:45 am

I cook best through pictures and yours are awesome! Great sleuth work finding a healthy version for all to enjoy 🙂

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Anjali @ The Picky Eater September 29, 2013 at 9:46 pm

Aw thank you so much Kendra!! I’m just like you – I mean, we always eat with our eyes first! 🙂 Hope you enjoy this when you try it!

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eisha September 30, 2013 at 3:43 pm

I love broccoli and cheese and can’t wait to try the soup! but I want to hear more about baby picky eater

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Anjali @ The Picky Eater October 1, 2013 at 8:51 pm

Thanks Eisha! Awww hehe – Baby Picky Eater is doing really well! She’s kicking and I can feel her moving all over the place – it’s amazing! 🙂

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Deanna October 3, 2013 at 1:17 pm

I’ve been making a variation of this soup for a long time because I found it was a great way to serve broccoli to my children. They didn’t like broccoli much, but would always eat broccoli soup. I found if I added a peeled, chopped medium to large potato I could easily make the soup with low fat milk. It still has a creamy taste we all enjoyed.

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Anjali @ The Picky Eater October 3, 2013 at 10:07 pm

Hi Deanna! Thanks so much for sharing — I LOVE the idea of adding a potato + low fat milk to the recipe (instead of the half and half)! I’ll definitely be trying that next time — I can totally see how it would give a creamy taste to the soup too. Thanks again!

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Maiu October 12, 2013 at 1:52 pm

Just printed the recipe! Sounds awesome! Thank you!

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Anjali @ The Picky Eater October 15, 2013 at 1:02 am

Yay!! I’m sure you’ll love it when you try it – let me know how it goes! 🙂

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Elizabeth October 30, 2013 at 2:46 pm

Hi! This sounds great but I’m terrible at measurements. Can you tell me approximately how many cups of broccoli, and of cheese, this is? Thanks!!

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Anjali @ The Picky Eater October 31, 2013 at 9:48 pm

Hi Elizabeth! It’s about 3.5-4 cups of broccoli florets, and 1/2 cup of cheese 🙂 Hope that helps!

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Kate November 1, 2013 at 7:32 pm

I made this tonight and had to come to your blog to tell you it is one of the most delicious soups I’ve ever made or eaten (my Husband and I ate the whole pot.) I’ve already shared the recipe with 3 friends and am planning to make it again next week (seeing as how I have all that half/half left.) Thanks so much!!!!

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Anjali @ The Picky Eater November 1, 2013 at 9:08 pm

Oh yayy!!! This is so wonderful to hear Kate!! I’m so glad you and your husband loved this recipe – sounds like it was as big a hit with him as it was with my husband 🙂 Thanks for letting me know!

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MC November 2, 2013 at 12:31 pm

Wish the fat could be broken down – wondering about sat fat.
Also I’ve heard instead if cream or 1/2 & 1/2 to use Greek Yogurt – what is your opinion of that ?

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Anjali @ The Picky Eater November 2, 2013 at 9:16 pm

Hi! This recipe has 3.34g Saturated Fat per serving. I wouldn’t recommend using Greek Yogurt in this soup instead of the half and half — since the soup is hot I’m not confident the Greek Yogurt would mix in well (vs. coagulating). Greek Yogurt is usually a good substitution for sour cream (in recipes where it doesn’t require heating the Greek Yogurt). Hope that helps!

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MC November 2, 2013 at 9:34 pm

Oh thank you – that sat fat isn’t so bad per serving & with some sheepherders bread [no sat fat] and Benecol one has a delicious meal. And thanks for your opinion regarding the Greek Yogurt. Appreciate your help!

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Anjali @ The Picky Eater November 2, 2013 at 10:23 pm

No problem at all! So glad it was helpful 🙂

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RS November 4, 2013 at 5:39 pm

This was one of the best soups I’ve had!! Thanks for the recipe!

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Anjali @ The Picky Eater November 4, 2013 at 6:23 pm

Woohoo!! So happy to hear that! 🙂 Thanks for letting me know!

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Sue November 6, 2013 at 6:27 pm

Tried this soup as my first time making a broccoli cheese soup. Amazing! Absolutely loved it! There was just the right balance of savory (onion, garlic, carrot), creaminess and broccoli flavor. Delish! Thank you!

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Anjali @ The Picky Eater November 6, 2013 at 11:57 pm

That’s awesome!! I’m so glad you liked this recipe – thanks for letting me know Sue! 🙂

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Maiu November 19, 2013 at 5:10 am

Finally had the time – http://torontocooks.com/2013/11/19/broccoli-cheese-soup/

Thank you, Anjali!
Maiu

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Anjali @ The Picky Eater November 19, 2013 at 8:45 am

Oh awesome!! I’m so happy it turned out well! 🙂

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Erin Walsh November 19, 2013 at 3:15 pm

Loved this recipe, I made it for my and myself. We both thought it was delicious, and the calorie savings made it even better. It is so simple to make too. Thank you for sharing it!

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Anjali @ The Picky Eater November 19, 2013 at 4:40 pm

Hooray!! That is great to hear Erin! And yes – I love how easy this recipe is to make! It’s the perfect quick & healthy meal 🙂

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Stephanie Hill December 5, 2013 at 8:54 am

Made this last night and I love it! 😀 So fast and so flavorful! Thanks!

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Anjali @ The Picky Eater December 5, 2013 at 10:33 am

Aw yay! So glad you liked this recipe Stephanie!!

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Geri Koeppel December 10, 2013 at 10:52 am

Made this last week on a cold night for picky eater hubby and me, and we both loved it! I pureed it in the Vitamix. Easy & delicious!

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Anjali @ The Picky Eater December 10, 2013 at 11:11 am

Love the idea of using the Vitamix to puree this!! So glad you both liked this recipe Geri! 🙂

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Lizzie January 11, 2014 at 8:24 am

Absolutely glorious soup!
The Honey had some dental work done yesterday and I was looking around for something yummy-but-not-chewy. Lo and behold, I found your recipe and could not be happier with the results; The Honey adds his appreciation as well.

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Anjali @ The Picky Eater January 17, 2014 at 11:04 pm

Hehe yay!! So happy to hear that Lizzie! And yes, this is a great recipe if you’re looking for something that’s filling but not hard to chew! I wish I had made this recipe when I had my wisdom teeth out — it would have been a nice break from jello and yogurt 🙂

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Randy January 12, 2014 at 4:34 pm

I am reading all of these reviews saying it was delicious. However, I followed the directions directly, and it smelled like I was preparing a chinese dish, and I could not taste the cheese in it at all. It wasn’t bad, but it didn’t taste like broccoli cheese soup to me.

What did I do wrong?

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Anjali @ The Picky Eater January 17, 2014 at 10:52 pm

Hi Randy! Thanks so much for your comment and your question! I’m glad you though the soup wasn’t bad, but I can’t figure out why it smelled like a Chinese dish, since there are no Chinese flavors in this recipe! I’d need more information from you to figure out exactly what happened. Do you want to email me at pickyeats@gmail.com and we can figure it out together? Happy to help in any way I can!

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Lydiah February 23, 2014 at 3:11 pm

Ya know what? I didn’t even use the half n half and it turned out great!!!! Thank you!! I added a ton more carrots too 🙂

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Anjali @ The Picky Eater February 24, 2014 at 7:20 pm

Oh awesome!! Glad to hear it Lydiah!

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Jan Listig March 7, 2014 at 1:56 pm

I tried to make this but my vegetable stock (Fresh Market brand) is brown so made everything brown and yucky looking. Can you tell which stock you used, please? What about just using water instead of stock? Thanks!

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Anjali @ The Picky Eater March 9, 2014 at 12:08 am

Hi Jan! Aw that’s too bad about the stock you used! I use Pacific Organic Low Sodium — it has a beige-clear-yellow color to it so it doesn’t discolor the soup. I wouldn’t just use water instead of stock — the stock has so much flavor in it, the soup would definitely taste different without it! Hope that helps!

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Nancy March 17, 2014 at 9:11 am

I’m so glad to find this recipe. I just went to the grocery to pick up some lunch and they had a broccoli cheddar soup with nearly 800 mg of sodium and 22 grams of fat! Guess what I’m cooking tonight?

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Anjali @ The Picky Eater March 17, 2014 at 12:58 pm

Omg that is crazy!! It’s much easier, cheaper and healthier to make this recipe at home 🙂 Hope you enjoy it Nancy!

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Tituba March 27, 2014 at 2:33 pm

Have you made this soup yet with just the stalks? I’m looking for a way to use up the stalks instead of waste them after my family eats the florets. Just curious if you’ve seen any variation… Thanks!

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Anjali @ The Picky Eater March 30, 2014 at 1:00 pm

Hi Tituba! I actually haven’t seen this soup made with just the stalks and haven’t tried it that way myself. I’m not sure how it would taste since the florets generally have more “broccoli flavor” than the stalks do. Although you could try making this with the florets and the stalks — just make sure you get the stalks soft enough so they puree well. Hope that helps! If you end up trying this with the stalks, let me know how it turns out!

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Jenny Collins March 29, 2014 at 2:43 am

Hi i’m in England and want to make this soup so wondered how many grams or oz of broccoli is in 4 cups? and is 1 cup of onion equivalent to a whole onion? I have no problem with converting cups of liquid but i am struggling with solid weight. Hope you can help as i LOVE broccoli and cheese soup so a skinny version would be perfect! Thanks.

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Anjali @ The Picky Eater March 30, 2014 at 5:25 pm

Hi Jenny! 4 cups is 32 oz, or about 946 grams. Depending on the size of your onion, 1 cup of onion could be a whole onion. 1 cup is about 236 grams. I hope that helps! Let me know if you have any other questions and I hope you enjoy the soup!

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Jenny Collins March 31, 2014 at 1:55 am

Thank you! although i was impatient and made the soup already by guesstimating! i used about 600g of broccoli and it turned out fab 🙂 Thank you x

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Anjali @ The Picky Eater April 2, 2014 at 4:42 pm

Haha! Well I’m glad it turned out so well 🙂 Thanks for letting me know Jenny!

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Rebecca May 1, 2014 at 5:49 am

Just made this and it was absolutely gorgeous!!! Only difference I made was to use skimmed milk as I’m not even sure we get half n half in the UK. Couldn’t believe how yummy it was – it’s a keeper, and I’ll be making more soon.

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Anjali @ The Picky Eater May 1, 2014 at 1:43 pm

Oh nice! I feel like skim milk would taste great in this recipe too! So glad you liked it Rebecca 🙂

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Aaron R July 1, 2014 at 3:56 pm

Made this today. Extremely easy to make and tasty. I love garlic so I added three extra cloves, used sea salt instead of reg salt, and subbed in an ounce of mozzarella for the sharp cheddar. Thanks so much for this

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Anjali @ The Picky Eater July 8, 2014 at 7:58 am

Oh great!! So glad you liked this recipe Aaron – and thanks for sharing your modifications!

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Angela Brenner Baldwin August 2, 2014 at 7:51 pm

This is very kid-friendly. My 7 year old son ate 3 bowls! We all loved it was tasty and healthy. <3

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Anjali @ The Picky Eater August 8, 2014 at 11:38 am

Omg that’s amazing!! So happy to hear that Angela!

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Chalsae Darr August 26, 2014 at 2:47 pm

This is absolutely delicious! I don’t eat broccoli, neither does my 4 year old or my 2 year old nephew. We made this tonight, I added a few more carrots and about 3 more oz of cheese, which honestly was probably a little too much. lol Although the kids loved the extra cheesiness. 🙂 I added 2 small shredded chicken breasts per request of my daughter. It was great. We all love it and it will now be a regular in our household. Thanks for the recipe!

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Anjali @ The Picky Eater August 29, 2014 at 12:19 pm

Oh wow!! That’s so great that you and your kids loved this recipe! Thanks so much for letting me know!! 🙂

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Debbie October 11, 2014 at 5:29 am

A wonderful skinny soup that does not taste skinny and so quick and easy I can make it after work. Looking forward to enjoying this again soon, thanks for the delicious update on Broccoli Cheese Soup.

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Anjali @ The Picky Eater October 13, 2014 at 9:08 pm

Thanks Debbie, so glad you liked this recipe!

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Caroline November 3, 2014 at 10:45 am

Hi,

I was wondering why my cheese never fully integrated into the soup. I like my soup chunky so I did NOT blend it but when I added the cheese it just basically suck to the broccoli. Is it a requirement to blend?

Also, I see the ingredients call for 4 oz of cheese but I only see where you use 2 oz. Is the rest just for topping?

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Anjali @ The Picky Eater November 6, 2014 at 3:34 pm

Hi Caroline! Yes – I do think you need to blend this soup, because otherwise the cheese won’t be able to melt directly into the soup and combine with the rest of the ingredients. It’ll melt on one of the ingredients and just stick to it (like you experienced with the broccoli). And yes, the remaining 2oz is for topping the soup. Hope that helps!

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Lisa November 15, 2014 at 4:29 pm

Any suggestions on substituting half/half for almond milk? Thanks!

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Lisa November 15, 2014 at 4:30 pm

Sorry wrote that backwards…. 🙂 I want to use almond milk…. straight substitution regarding measurements?

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Anjali @ The Picky Eater November 16, 2014 at 6:37 am

Hi Lisa! Regarding the almond milk, it’s a 1:1 substitution. But honestly, I’m not sure how almond milk will taste in this recipe. I feel like it wont give you the same consistency or mouthfeel as the half & half – and I’m also not sure if it’ll coagulate in the soup. It’s worth a shot though – let me know how it goes!

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Amy Swift January 26, 2015 at 3:39 am

Hi,

I was just wondering if someone could explain what 1/4 + 1/8 cup half-and-half is.

Thank you

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Anjali @ The Picky Eater January 26, 2015 at 8:03 am

Hi Amy! That just means you want 1/4 cup half and half and also 1/8 cup half and half. 3/8 of a cup (the total amount you need) is hard to measure, which is why I broke it down that way. Hope that helps!

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Catherine February 3, 2015 at 8:42 am

Could you substitute the half-and-half cream for coconut milk?

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Anjali @ The Picky Eater February 3, 2015 at 2:57 pm

I think that could probably work – coconut milk does pretty well in soups and warm dishes. Try it out and let me know how it works out for you!

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Ida Carl February 12, 2015 at 5:22 am

OMG!!! I love this recipe! I love broccoli and cheese and I think that soup is just for me! Thanks a lot for sharing this recipe! I will definitely try it!

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Anjali @ The Picky Eater February 12, 2015 at 8:20 am

Aw yay! I’m so glad you like it – can’t wait for you to try it!

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Bron June 2, 2015 at 3:29 am

Loved this soup. Couldn’t wait to make it so it had to be tonight. Had an abundance of broccoli in my first crop and had to make this soup. Awesome, delicious, healthy and best of all…so quick! Ready to try it with potato and soy milk and lactose free cheese. Thank you soooo much!

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Anjali @ The Picky Eater June 2, 2015 at 1:06 pm

That’s so great Bron! I’m so happy you enjoyed this recipe. Let me know how it goes with the soy milk and lactose free cheese – I’d be curious to see if it tastes any differently!

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Guna September 30, 2015 at 11:04 am

Hi. I tried a few of your Italian recipes and love them.

I am so looking forward to making this soup. But I don’t like the cheese flavour. Could you suggest any alternative for this please.

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Anjali @ The Picky Eater October 20, 2015 at 7:48 am

Hi Guna! I’m so glad you’ve been enjoying my recipes! If you don’t like cheese, you could just leave it out of the soup and try it without the cheese altogether. Let me know how that works for you!

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Holly February 9, 2016 at 6:58 am

I am wondering if this is a soup that you can freeze after its made?

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Anjali @ The Picky Eater February 9, 2016 at 8:12 am

Hi Holly! Honestly I’m not sure how it would freeze — I’ve never tried it with this recipe! The only ingredient in this soup that might not freeze well is the half and half – but it’s worth a shot to try freezing it and seeing what happens. If it freezes well let me know! 🙂

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Jody Drake February 21, 2016 at 9:29 am

Recipe sounds great, although I do not own any kind of blender. Has it been tried with potato masher?

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Anjali @ The Picky Eater February 24, 2016 at 8:49 pm

Hi Jody! I’m not sure you’d get a good consistency for this soup if you just used a potato masher. It tastes best when it’s fully pureed. That said, it’s worth trying to see if it works for you!

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