Shannon’s creamy broccoli soup

My younger daughter requested broccoli soup for her birthday supper.

“But not your soup, Mama. You have to make Shannon’s recipe.” And then she added, oh-so-hopefully, “Do you think Shannon could just make the soup for us?”

My kids have been requesting Shannon’s broccoli soup for years. I’ve quizzed Shannon off and on, and then followed her instructions (more or less), but the kids always fussed. “It’s not the same. Hers is better.” (Probably because of my “more or less” habit.) 

So this time I interrogated Shannon on every little-iddy-biddy-wittle Broccoli Soup Aspect: method! ingredient quantity and quality! final consistency and texture! And then I asked her all over again but with different words.

My obsessiveness totally paid off because, in the process, I unearthed a somehow-overlooked crucial element: Shannon steamed her broccoli and then chopped it fine in the food processor before adding it to the cheesy sauce. Well, well, well.

My younger daughter declared my new soup attempt to be the real deal (whew). Everyone else loved it, too, including my husband.

“I agree with the kids,” he said. “It’s better this way. Must be a texture thing.”

Shannon’s Creamy Broccoli Soup

I doubled Shannon’s recipe; the changes are reflected below. If you aren’t feeding the multitudes, or would rather not eat broccoli soup every day for a week, halve the recipe.

3 pounds fresh broccoli (a big Costco bag)
½ cup butter
½ cup flour
2-4 cups milk
1 pound sharp cheddar cheese, grated
2-3 teaspoons salt
freshly ground black pepper

Steam the broccoli until very tender. Reserve the green cooking liquid. Working in batches, pulse the broccoli in the food processor until chopped fine. Set aside.

In a large kettle, melt the butter. Whisk in the flour until the mixture is hot and bubbly. Gradually add the milk, whisking steadily. (I used two cups of milk to begin with and later, when the soup was finished, I thinned it with another cup or two of milk). Whisk in the cheese and salt. Add the broccoli and whisk to combine. At this point the soup will be quite thick. I added a couple cups of the reserved cooking liquid, and some more milk, but half-and-half and/or chicken broth would work, too.

This same time, years previous: the singing bowl, the quotidian (3.9.15), wintry days, work, mini merry maids, perfect pretzels, with a side of poison, blondies, meatballs.


  • melodiemillerdavis

    I am super excited as well to get this recipe and trick. I will try it. I love love broccoli soup and have tried many of my own "more or less" recipes and am always a little like your kids, always feeling somehow they're "less than."

  • beckster

    Thanks for this recipe. I love broccoli soup but must confess I have never found a recipe I like. After reading the above comments, I will have to look up your other version. The more veggies the better! And adding sweet potatoes sounds good; something I would not have thought to do.

  • Margo

    I would be very tempted to puree the broccoli with my stick blender right there in its cooking water and then add the cheese sauce. What we do for our kids. . .

    • Jennifer Jo

      Of course! If you boil the broccoli instead of steam it, that would work fine. Shannon's original version calls for no cooking water and all cheese sauce, though. She said that SOMETIMES, if the soup needs to be thinned, she adds a bit of the cooking water. I took liberties and added quite a bit….

  • Aili

    Funny, your broccoli-and-potato-and-cheese soup is 100% our go-to (although we often do it with sweet potatoes), and my kids would balk at something like this.

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