The BEST Vegan Broccoli Cheddar Soup (Panera Copycat

January 10, 2023

Entree

By: Chris Petrellese 

This Vegan Broccoli Cheddar Soup is the BEST copycat we’ve ever had. It’s super creamy, decadent, flavor-packed, and made with 10 healthy, simple ingredients. Have this cheesy classic ready in 40 minutes or less! Try it for meal prep or an easy weeknight dinner.

Vegan Broccoli Cheddar Soup in a bowl with croutons and parsley

A Copycat Panera Broccoli Cheddar Soup

After visiting Panera Bread for our Fast Food Video and not being able to order their popular Broccoli Cheddar Soup, we knew it was time to get in the kitchen and make our own veganized version of this creamy soup. To our surprise, it was ridiculously easy to make! 

We made this vegan version healthier than the restaurant and store-bought versions so it could be enjoyed by all. This Creamy Vegan Broccoli Cheddar soup is not only rich and delicious but oil-free, gluten-free, and made without processed vegan cheese shreds. Trust us when we tell you this soup is next-level and will quickly become one of your family’s favorite soups.  

Ingredients for vegan broccoli cheddar soup on a wooden board

Ingredients You’ll Need 

  • Cashews: The secret to making this soup naturally cheesy and creamy. For best results and flavor, use raw, unsalted cashews. If you are looking to make this soup nut-free, substitute the raw cashews 1:1 with raw sunflower seeds. 
  • Nutritional yeast: Adds additional cheesy flavor and B vitamins. Make sure to purchase nutritional yeast flakes, not Brewer’s yeast. The two are often confused but very different products. Nutritional yeast should be stocked near the spices in the grocery store or purchased online. Our favorite brand is Bragg’s. 
  • Lemon juice: Adds an acidity that helps brighten up the flavors and balance the richness. Please use freshly squeezed lemon juice – pre-bottled lemon juice is watered down and has a different flavor profile. 
  • Vegan chicken broth: Classic Panera broccoli cheddar is made with chicken broth, so we used Better than Bouillon vegan chicken broth to make it as close in flavor as possible. If needed, feel free to use vegetable broth instead!
  • Aromatics: A blend of onion, celery, and garlic makes the base of this soup. Don’t skip the sauté – it adds an essential foundation of flavor. 
  • Broccoli and carrots: We recommend using fresh broccoli florets and carrots. Frozen will work, but it will add additional water to the soup, making it thinner and slightly less flavorful. 
  • Spices: A simple mix of nutmeg, salt, and black pepper is all you need! If desired, add ¼ teaspoon of turmeric powder for a bit of color.

Equipment Needed

How to Make Vegan Broccoli Cheddar Soup

  1. Soak the cashews. We typically like to soak the cashews overnight in the refrigerator, but if you don’t have time, do a quick soak in hot water. Bring a small pot of water to a boil. Once boiling, remove the pot from the heat and add in the cashews. Soak for 20 minutes or until softened and drain. 
  2. Make the cashew cream base. Drain the cashews and transfer them to a high speed blender along with 2 cups of filtered water, nutritional yeast, and lemon juice. Blend on high until smooth and set aside while you prepare the rest of the soup. 
  3. Sauté the aromatics. In a large pot over medium heat, add in 2 tablespoons of vegetable broth (or olive oil or vegan butter if not oil-free) along with the diced onion and celery. Cook until softened, then add in the garlic and cook for 2 minutes more. Add additional vegetable broth as needed to prevent burning. 
  4. Add liquids. Add in the remaining vegetable broth along with all of the blended cashew mixture. Mix until uniform. 
  5. Add in broccoli, carrots, and nutmeg. Mix again until combined. 
  6. Simmer for 15-20 minutes. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat, then lower to a simmer. Cook for 15-20 minutes, stirring often, until the soup has thickened. 
  7. Season with salt and pepper. Once thickened, remove the broccoli cheddar soup from the heat and season to taste. 
  8. Serve. Serve warm and garnished as desired. Enjoy! 

Serving Suggestions 

This easy Vegan Broccoli Cheddar Soup is hearty enough to serve on it’s own with a sprinkle of vegan cheddar cheese shreds and fresh parsley. If you’d like to make it more hearty, serve it in a bread bowl or serve with our homemade croutons, Garlic Herb Dinner Rolls or a crusty slice of No Knead Bread

You could also serve this cheesy broccoli soup like a Panera “Pick Two,” and serve with a side dish, like our Homemade TTLA sandwich, Oyster Mushroom Sandwiches, or a Baked Tofu and Pesto Sandwich

Storage Instructions

Leftover vegan broccoli cheddar soup can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months. Reheat any leftovers in the microwave or in a small pot on the stovetop until warmed through. 

If frozen, allow to thaw for 1-2 days in the refrigerator, then reheat as normal. 

Recipe FAQs

Why is Panera Broccoli Cheddar Soup not vegetarian?

Panera makes their traditional version with chicken stock, making the soup neither vegetarian or vegan. 

Why is my broccoli cheddar soup grainy?

This can happen if you do not blend the cashews completely smooth or if you simmer the soup on too high of heat. If the soup gets too hot, the soup can separate and become grainy and curdled. 

Are any of Panera’s soups vegan?

If you are hoping to order a vegan soup at Panera, you can now order the Ten Vegetable Soup. It is naturally vegan as is and can be enjoyed with a baguette on the side. This is the only option for now, but hopefully, they will add a few more soon! 

Why is my soup not thickening?

If you used the correct liquid measurements, it’s possible it just needs a bit longer to simmer! The longer this soup simmers, the thicker it gets. It will continue to thicken as it cools, too. As a last resort, you can always stir in a cornstarch slurry (1 tablespoon cornstarch mixed with 2 tablespoons water in a small bowl) until it has thickened to your liking. 

Vegan Broccoli Cheddar Soup in a bowl with croutons and parsley.

Tips for Success

  • Use a high-speed blender. Blending the cashews until silky smooth is essential to making this broccoli cheddar soup the right creamy texture. For best results, use a high-speed blender or a single-serve blending cup. Please do not use a food processor or the Ninja Professional Plus Blender. It is incapable of blending cream sauces completely smooth and will leave a slight grittiness in your soup. 
  • Finely chop the broccoli and carrots. This allows the vegetables to be dispersed evenly throughout the soup and makes it thicker.

More Vegan Soup Recipes You May Enjoy: 

If you make this recipe and share it, please tag us on Instagram @sweetsimplevegan and @consciouschris and hashtag #sweetsimplevegan so we don’t miss your photos!

Print
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Vegan Broccoli Cheddar Soup in a bowl with croutons and parsley

Vegan Broccoli Cheddar Soup Recipe


  • Author: Jasmine @ Sweet Simple Vegan
  • Total Time: 38 minutes
  • Yield: 5 servings

Description

This Vegan Broccoli Cheddar Soup is the BEST copycat we’ve ever had. It’s super creamy, decadent, flavor packed and made with healthy, simple ingredients. Have this cheesy classic ready in 40 minutes or less. Try it for meal prep or an easy weeknight dinner.


Ingredients

  • 1 cup raw cashews, soaked overnight* (see notes)
  • 2 cups filtered water
  • 1/2 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 3 cups + 4 tablespoons vegan chicken broth (we used this one) or vegetable broth of your choice
  • 1/2 medium onion, finely diced
  • 1 rib celery, finely diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 2 3/4 cups finely chopped broccoli
  • 1 cup carrot, julienned
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
  • Black pepper, to taste

Garnishes (optional)

  • Fresh parsley
  • Croutons (these are a great vegan brand)

Instructions

  1. Drain the cashews and transfer them to a high speed blender along with 2 cups of water, nutritional yeast, and lemon juice. Blend on high until smooth and set aside.
  2. In a large pot over medium heat, add in 2 tablespoons of vegetable broth along with the diced onion and celery. Sauté until softened, about 3 minutes. Add in the garlic and cook for 2 minutes more, adding 2 more tablespoons of vegetable broth as needed to prevent burning.
  3. Add the remaining vegetable broth to the pot along with all of the cashew mixture that you had blended. Mix until uniform. Add in the broccoli, carrot and nutmeg and mix again until combined. Bring the mixture to a boil and lower to a simmer. Cook for 15-20 minutes, stirring often, until the soup has thickened.
  4. Once the soup has thickened, remove it from the heat and season with salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Serve warm with a garnish of fresh parsley and croutons. Enjoy!

Notes

  • If you don’t have time to soak the cashews overnight, you can do a quick soak in hot water. Bring a small pot of water to a boil. Once it is boiling, remove the pot from heat and add in the cashews. Soak for 20 minutes or until softened and drain.
  • We used the Better than Bouillon vegan chicken broth for this recipe. To make the broth, we mixed 3 1/4 cups of water with 3 1/4 teaspoons of paste.
  • If you’d like your soup to be a little more yellow and “cheddar” looking you can add 1/4 teaspoon of turmeric at end.
  • Prep Time: 8 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Category: Soup, Entree
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Vegan, Gluten-free

Keywords: soup, entree, lunch, dinner, broccoli, cheddar, soup, vegan, gluten-free

Nutrition facts label provided by Nutri Fox.

Disclaimer: The nutritional information shown is an estimate provided by an online calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional’s advice. This page may contain affiliate links, which simply means that we earn a commission if you purchase through those links, but your price remains the same. Thank you for supporting Sweet Simple Vegan!

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Recipe rating

  1. this looks amazing – definitely going to give it a go. I recently got a new blender so can finally make things with blended cashews (my old blender was NOT up to the job and I got sick of gritty sauces) so I’ve been hunting for recipes 😀

    • Haha well congrats on the new blender! We hope you like this 🙂

      • Donna says:

        Made this last night & it’s now my boyfriend’s favorite soup (he’s a soup lover and connesuir). Thanks so much for this amazing recipe! We’ll definitely be making this many, many more times!

        • Thank you so much for sharing, that makes me so happy to hear! 🙂

        • Judie says:

          Have made this before on the stove and it was soooo good.

          I tried making it in the instant pot (cause its over 100⁰ here) and it worked for the most part. I just cooked it too long. Also put the cream sauce after it’s done cooking the veggies or it’ll separate it. My soup ended up looking super wierd lol

          I also used sunflower seeds and hemp hearts instead of cashews. Worked great for the sauce before i cooked it.

    • TT says:

      Thanks for this soup option, I made it for meal prep this week. It was simple and came out so good and creamy. I love your channel and recipes keep being you.

  2. Stephanie says:

    Hey, this looks delicious! Just one question.. it says 3 cups water + 4 tbsp better than bouillon? It says on the bouillon container that 1 tsp it supposed to be enough for one cup of water. Is it supposed to be tsps instead of tbsps? TIA, can’t wait to make it! ????

  3. Molly says:

    I made this over the weekend and it turned out so good! So happy that it’s prepped and ready for an easy dinner some night this week. I even messed up and just blended the cashews with water and added the lemon and nooch to the soup separately and it was still delicious. I also added a little bit of onion powder to the soup.

    • Hi Molly! Thanks so much for sharing, we are so glad you liked this! And yes, that is totally fine! We just put the nutritional yeast and lemon in there to make a “cashew cheese” but everything comes together in the end anyways.

  4. Emily says:

    I used to be absolutely OBSESSED with broccoli cheddar soup (and now I still can be)!! Thanks so much, I made it and it’s delicious ????

  5. April Stromdahl says:

    Love your channel, your recipes and your overall vibes! You guys are great and bear too!!.. Making this as I write and let me tell your soooo darn good. ????????????

  6. lauren says:

    I just made this and OMG it’s DELICIOUS!!! Tastes better than what I remember Panera’s tastes like. So good!!! Easy to make too!

  7. Donna Curry says:

    This was very yummy, but for some reason mine never really thickened up. Definitely a keeper recipe for sure.

  8. Donna Curry says:

    This was very yummy, but for some reason it never really thickened up. Definitely a keeper recipe.

  9. Absolutely love this recipe, it is so easy and incredibly delicious!! Have made it several times and my husband loves it too 🙂 Thank you for the great recipe!

  10. Dianna Burrup says:

    Super Good. The texture is darn close to Panera. Taste is similar, and I think I will eventually like it better over time. Thanks so much, been looking for something close for years!

  11. Clau J. says:

    Pretty good:)

  12. kristin says:

    I made this last night and OH EM GEEEEEE it’s perfect. I have never tasted Panera’s version so I made a few additions / modifications with what I had on hand:

    I added two small bell peppers and shallots to the mirepoix mix, and sauteed in olive oil. The SO loves potatoes so I added about 5 small Yukon golds with the skin on. This also made the soup really thick, more like a stew (for the commenter who said it wasn’t thick enough). I had 3 carrots in the fridge which I grated.

    I also made these Pumpkin Garlic Knots to eat with the soup which made it next level!!! Will be making this again and again!

    https://yupitsvegan.com/pumpkin-garlic-knots/

  13. Mara says:

    Made this soup for dinner and it was sooo good! My husband Isn’t vegan and he love it!! Will definitely make this again!

  14. Brittany says:

    I was looking for vegan broccoli “cheddar” soup and I stumbled upon sweet simple vegan’s recipe. I’ll admit that I was a bit hesitant seeing that this didn’t use any alternative “cheese”, BUT I was pleasantly surprised! This recipe is fantastic, even my Fiancé loved it!
    It’s easy, light prep and absolutely delicious… I’m planning on making it again this week. Thank you!

  15. kayla says:

    hey there! my boyfriend is allergic to nuts-do you think i could alter this & add cornstarch/water combo + more nooch to replace it? or any other ideas? looks delicious, thanks! 🙂

  16. Tracy Henry says:

    OMG, you guys nailed this one!!! Absolutely delicious!!! SO SO good and creamy!! Thank you for sharing this fantastic recipe!!!!

  17. Kim says:

    I am excited to try this and am wondering if you use a particular brand of nutritional yeast? I have used it in many soup recipes and have noticed that different brands very widely in flavor.

  18. Meagan M says:

    I have been CRAVING broccoli cheddar soup! My husband works at Panera and I have a dairy allergy, plus, I try to eat vegan meals when I can. This recipe was SO delicious!!! I didn’t have any celery on hand, but I used a pinch of celery seed and topped it with Daiya cheddar shreds. 10/10!

  19. Erin says:

    Just made this and you were not lying about it being the best you’ve ever had! I’ve literally been dying for soup like I remember it and every recipe I’ve tried has been so gross, but this one is amazing omg sooooo good!!!

  20. Tasha says:

    Thanks so much for posting this! It was SO easy, definitely helped my craving for broccoli cheddar soup, AND doesn’t make my gut feel awful after eating it!

  21. Hannah says:

    Made this for dinner tonight and was thoroughly impressed! I loved the Panera soup before I went vegan so I was naturally skeptical to try this but boy was I wrong! So creamy and flavorful!

  22. Kookie Costa says:

    This was TERRIFIC! So, I omitted the nutmeg because I couldn’t find it in my spice cabinet (although I KNOW it’s in there somewhere). So instead, I added about 1/4 teaspoon of cayenne and 1/4 teaspoon of ground mustard. I also added a teaspoon (or more probably) of extra lemon along with additional salt and pepper. I had some vegan cheese shreds on hand and tossed about a 1/4 cup in the pot while it was all still simmering, giving it adequate time to mix and melt. I’m not sure if it improved it or not, but the finished product was a well-bodied, full of flavor delight which was on par with Panera’s broccoli chees soup (but this just had more FLAVOR in my opinion). Great recipe!!! Thank you!!!

  23. Stephanie says:

    This has become a staple in our home! We make this about twice a month and can never get enough! My non vegan family even asks me to make a big match to drop off! Fabulous job you two!

  24. Ollie says:

    First off I want to say I have a huge issue with non dairy recipes tasting, well, like non dairy lol. I’ve made so many recipes that are supposed to be like cheese but they always have that signature weird flavor. But this recipe, oh my god. This tastes literally just like Panera’s broccoli cheddar. I added a tiny bit of arrowroot starch to thicken but I don’t think it needed it at all because it thickens on its own. This is seriously the best vegan recipe I’ve made in the past like 8 years. Seriously.

  25. V says:

    This was a great recipe! It is healthy but also very creamy with the cashews. Thanks for sharing!

  26. Kym says:

    Made this tonight after saving it to my phone a while ago following a random FB post. OMG I think this soup is going to be a weekly occurrence now in my house! So delish! I ended up adding a bit more stock and a bit more nooch cos I had to put my kids to bed and it went a little too thick but damn it was just so great! Thankyou!

  27. Cindy says:

    I just made this, and as it was cooking the
    Nooch smell was really strong, so I had misgivings I tasted for seasoning, and it just tastes like yummy, savory, creamy broccoli soup. I added bay leaves b/c I’m superstitious, and a handilful of Follow Your Heart cheddar shreds. It’s a gorgeous, delicious soup!

  28. Kiki says:

    I honestly didn’t expect this to taste so amazing. I’ve never made a soup before because most of the recipes require a soup maker or putting the soup back in the blender half way through the recipe and I didn’t want all the extra steps. I used a non-fortified nutritional yeast and instead of celery I added cut up white potatoes and five minutes before it was ready I added just under a cup of vegan cheddar cheese. It was so easy for me to make for my first soup and I really want seconds but I’m going to save some for the rest of the week (and my husband), I also love that it has quite a good amount of protein. Do you know roughly how much fiber is in the soup? Thank you so much for this recipe, I can’t wait to make it again!

    • Chris Petrellese says:

      so glad you enjoyed it! Your additions are great as well. As far as the fiber goes, we just added it to the nutrition facts. We estimate there’s 5.8 g per serving!

  29. Caitlin Oneil says:

    This soup is my favorite! I’ve made it probably 20 times and shared the recipe with friends and family! 10/10 recommend! Honestly I haven’t tried one of their recipes that wasn’t amazing!

  30. Gregg says:

    I love this recipe

  31. JasmineH says:

    Made this soup and topped it with vegan Parmesan. Simply amazing! Thanks for helping me find a delicious meal while I’m stuck on a liquid diet!!

  32. Bethany B says:

    I made this for dinner tonight and WOW it was so good! It reminded me so much of what I remember of broccoli cheddar soup, but felt lighter and healthier while still being super creamy and delicious. It was also really easy to throw together. Definitely will make it again! 🙂

  33. Andrea H says:

    I just made this tonight, it was delicious! I added a little vegan parmesan at the end for extra cheesiness but it wasn’t really needed. Thanks for the recipe!!

  34. Caitlin Oneil says:

    Make this all the time! It’s so tasty and rich but the ingredients are clean. 10/10! Great family friendly dish. We have a family of 3 (and we all like to have seconds) so I double the recipe and usually get a bit left over for lunch the next day. A single serving serves us 3 with no leftovers at all! It’s best to double it cause it’s too good not to eat again the next day!

  35. Michelle says:

    Made this tonight on a cold, snowy day in Wyoming. Lovely recipe with accessible ingredients! The only change I made was tweaking spices a little and adding two large russet potatoes to make it a little heartier. Amazing recipe again guys!

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