Vegan Panera Broccoli Cheddar Soup

Better Than Panera Broccoli Cheddar Soup (Vegan, Protein-and-Veggie-Packed)

Is there anything more comforting than a bowl of soup on a cold day? The answer is yes—a soup that’s made to taste exactly like a big bowl of nacho cheese, but is somehow made of vegetables. I have a long found love for Panera Broccoli Cheddar Soup, but I don’t love how it makes me feel—heavy and a bit nauseous from the copious amounts of dairy involved. It was clearly ready to be remade, so one grey morning, I tackled the job.

I used the famous vegan cheese sauce from my book, Healthier Together, as a base, then added in cauliflower for an even creamier texture, and more veggies. In fact, the entire base of this soup is veggies—carrots, onions, cauliflower. How in the world does it taste like cheese, then, you might wonder? What makes it really Better Than Panera Broccoli Cheddar Soup?!

Great question. There are a few secret ingredients happening here, the first of which is every plant-based person’s favorite cheese alternative, nutritional yeast. While I’m not actually personally a vegan, I love the flavor of nutritional yeast—it’s so cheesy that, when I was developing the cheddar chive biscuits in my book, I preferred the outcome using it to the one using real pastured cheddar. It has a ton of protein and B vitamins, and because it’s stored in the pantry, it’s easy to keep on hand (this is the brand I buy online).

Cheese also adds an umami note to food, so I built that back in with a mix of garlic powder, onion powder, and tamari. I love using garlic and onion powder in dishes, and don’t view them as alternatives to their fresh counterparts, but rather, their own flavor builders unto themselves. I also tossed in some hemp seeds for creaminess and complete protein, ensuring this is meal that won’t leave you hungry hours later.

Oh, and did I mention this is a one pot situation (yay for no clean up!) and it can be made entirely with frozen veggies?? You can also go a few ways with this soup–you can pulse the broccoli in, if you want speckles of green throughout, or you can leave it in a more whole form on top.

I can’t wait for you try this one—I think you’re going to be addicted. Be sure to tag me on Instagram if you make it so I can see and share!!

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Vegan Panera Broccoli Cheddar Soup

Healthy Panera Broccoli Cheddar Soup (Vegan, Protein- and Veggie-Packed)

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5 from 2 reviews

  • Author: Liz Moody


  • 2 cups fresh or frozen broccoli 
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 3 medium carrots, chopped
  • 2 cups chopped cauliflower florets, fresh or frozen (about one small head of cauliflower)
  • 3 cups veggie broth
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 2 teaspoons tamari
  • 3 tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • 2 tablespoons hulled hemp seeds
  • Avocado oil, to cook with 
  • Fine grain sea salt
  • Fresh thyme and black pepper (optional, but recommended)


  1. Heat a large pot over medium-high. Drizzle with enough avocado to finely coat bottom, then add broccoli and cook until beginning to brown. Transfer broccoli to a plate and sprinkle with salt, reserving oil in pot.
  2. Add a bit more oil to the pot, so there’s enough to coat the bottom with a thin layer. Return to medium-high heat and add the carrots, onion, cauliflower, and a pinch of salt. Cook until the veggies are just beginning to brown, about 5 minutes.
  3. Turn heat to low and add the veggie broth, garlic powder, onion powder, and tamari. Cook until the cauliflower and carrots are easily pierced with a fork, about 5 more minutes. Remove from heat and add nutritional yeast and hemp seeds and few leaves of fresh thyme and a bit of black pepper, if using. Blend until smooth.
  4. Now, you can either pulse in the broccoli until it’s speckled throughout but not fully blended, or simply add it on top. Garnish with additional thyme leaves and black pepper if desired. Serves 2.