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broccoli cheese soup with pumpkin puree

by Jackie Newgent  |  October 5, 2013  |  3 Comments

Broccoli Cheese Soup

Makes 4 servings: 1 1/2 cups each

My sister is a huge fan of Panera Bread and their super creamy broccoli Cheddar soup. After trying a few bites of her soup one day, I totally understood why. But I also realized that it wasn’t quite the calorie friendly variety. So, of course, I leaped into action in my kitchen to recreate a better-for-you version that was equally tasty—if not tastier. This is the winner!

My inspired version has a lovely autumn yellow-orange hue from pumpkin puree and turmeric. The pumpkin also creates extra lusciousness without excess dairy decadence. You can actually use 100% pure pumpkin from a can; you don’t need to go hunting in a pumpkin patch for the perfect pumpkin … unless you want to. I’m in love with this soup. Hope you fall for it, too!

Calories Saved: 130

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons whole-wheat pastry flour or chickpea flour
2 cups reduced fat (2%) organic milk
2 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
3/4 cup unsalted pumpkin puree
2 teaspoons unsalted butter
1 medium yellow onion, diced
1 small Serrano pepper, with some seeds, minced
8 ounces chopped fresh broccoli florets
1 teaspoon sea salt, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg, or to taste
1/8 teaspoon ground turmeric
3 1/2 ounces finely shredded extra-sharp Cheddar cheese

  1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add flour and whisk until bubbly, about 3 minutes. While continuing to whisk, slowly add the milk until fully incorporated. Whisk in the broth and pumpkin puree until smooth. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, for 15 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a medium (PFOA-free) nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion and Serrano and sauté until onion is softened and begins to caramelize, about 5 minutes.
  3. Add the onion mixture, broccoli, salt, black pepper, nutmeg, and turmeric to the creamy pumpkin broth and continue to simmer, uncovered, until the broccoli is tender and soup is thickened, stirring occasionally, about 22 to 25 minutes. Adjust seasoning.
  4. Stir in the cheese until well combined, sprinkle with additional nutmeg, if desired, and serve.

Per serving: 200 calories, 13g total fat, 6g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 30mg cholesterol, 600mg sodium, 14g total carbohydrate, 3g dietary fiber, 7g sugars, 9g protein

The “Before” Version

Panera Bread Broccoli Cheddar Soup inspired this tasteovers by jackie

Per serving (1 bowl): 330 calories, 21g total fat, 14g saturated fat, 1g trans fat, 75mg cholesterol, 1390mg sodium, 23g total carbohydrate, 8g dietary fiber, 0g sugars, 14g protein

(NOTE: The above information was as of October 5, 2013. As of January 6, 2016, all soups at Panera Bread are now “clean.”)


Tasteover Tips

  • Create creaminess in soup by way of a root veggie, like pumpkin puree.
  • Want the appearance of extra cheesiness? Perk up yellow-orange color with turmeric.
  • Don’t forget the salt. It truly is the key ingredient for a tasty soup.
  • Add extra flavor depth with spices, such as nutmeg. Nutmeg provides sweet earthy flair and pairs beautifully with broccoli.
  • Go extra-sharp when adding cheese so you can use less than you expect.

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  1. Hello. This sounds great. I think I am going to try and make this over the weekend. I am wondering though if you know if Almond Milk can be used as a substitute for the 2% milk? Thank you.

    1. Hi Michele! The soup should still be fine with almond milk–just slightly less rich tasting. In step 1, I suggest simmering for 20 minutes instead of 15 minutes since you’ll want to reduce the consistency a bit more. And at the end, simply adjust seasonings to get the flavor that works best for you. Please let me know how it goes! 🙂 Jackie