So thick and creamy, cheesy broccoli rice soup is the ultimate chilly weather comfort food. And don’t forget the bacon!
As a bona fide soup addict and food blogger, I’ve always felt that the most value I could add to you, soup-lovin’ friends, was to share soup recipes that were sort of off the beaten path. Maybe a combination of ingredients that aren’t often found together in a bowl, or a cooking technique that’s worked great for me and is worth highlighting in a post.
But, as I began preparing for full-blown soup season last month and browsed my go-to collection of tried-and-true soup recipes that I crafted long ago, I realized that there’s so much there that’s highly sharable — like this couscous chicken soup recipe, which I almost didn’t post last year because I thought it was too basic. But not only is it my favorite winter soup ever, it’s become my most pinned — and most copycat’d — recipe.
Have you had cheesy broccoli rice soup before? Sure. But maybe you haven’t had it in a while, or have forgotten how easy it is to whip up, or need some tips to take yours over the top.
So with today’s recipe, I’ll be opening up my personal recipe book and sharing the soups I turn to all the time. I’m still building my stock pile of new and interesting soups that I’ve been testing and perfecting, but every now and then, I’ll dig out those old recipe cards and share my long-time favorites.
Let’s get to it!
Tips for the Best Cheesy Broccoli Rice Soup!
- This is an intentionally thick soup — it’s totally part of its charm. Brothy soups, step aside. This soup will cling to your spoon and stick to your ribs.
- Make sure you cook the broccoli to your liking. I like a little crunch to my broccoli — while it’s still bright green in the soup! — so I cook it just for a few minutes or so before turning down the heat. But if you or your family need super tender broccoli, go for it!
- If you’re using a super melty, but white, cheese, your cheesy broccoli rice soup might look a little pale. Here’s how to inject some quick color — and a few extra health benefits: when the vegetables finish their saute, add 1/2 teaspoon of ground turmeric and stir to combine. This will give your final soup a lovely light golden glow (I did this to the soup in the photos — isn’t it pretty!)
- There’s no shame in using Velveeta. Although I prefer fontina or Mexican queso, I’ve used Velveeta many times with this soup. It works great!
- Slicing broccoli into soup-spoon-sized florets is super easy: use a small paring knife to slice one broccoli “tree” right at the underside of the broccoli flower buds (side note: they’re called “florets” because they are, indeed future flowers. If left on the head, those tiny green broccoli buds will burst out into little yellow blooms). This will let the florets fall into small pieces without all the messy chopping.
- Did you know that broccoli stems are actually sweeter and more palatable than the florets? After you’ve separated the florets from the stems (above), chop the stems and saute them with the other vegetables.
- If you’re making this soup ahead, or for planned leftovers, keep some extra chicken broth on hand. A stint in the fridge will thicken the soup like a casserole, but reheating with some liquid will loosen it right up.
Thick and cheesy broccoli rice soup FTW! And don’t forget the bacon: it adds a savory punch that you don’t often find in broccoli soups.
Finally, I wanted to share a bit of fun. Cincinnati has a thriving food scene, and has for years, in truth. And through it all has been Polly Campbell, our most beloved food critic. Restaurant reviewers have come and gone over the years in our city, but Polly has carved an indelible niche for herself as the level-headed and keen observer of food trends and restaurant offerings.
Recently, I had the great fortune to be interviewed by Polly on the topic of kitchen equipment that cooks can’t live without. I had a blast, such a lovely conversation! Her article appeared in this weekend’s Cincinnati Enquirer, and I wanted to share with you. Not because my name appears in the article 😉 but because it’s such an interesting topic when you dig deep with fellow cooks.
So, what’s your favorite kitchen tool or equipment? And what I’m really dying to know: what’s the most ridiculous gadget you’ve ever bought? (Did I really tell Polly Campbell that I own a hot dog bun pan? I did, lol!)
- 4 slices bacon, chopped
- 1/2 onion, chopped
- 2 ribs celery, chopped
- 1 small carrot, chopped
- 1 cup long-grain white rice
- 1/2 cup white wine
- 3 cups chicken broth
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch or flour
- 2 cups broccoli florets
- 12 ounce can evaporated milk
- 4 ounces soft cheese that melts well, such on fontina, chopped into small cubes
- 2 ounces extra flavorful hard or semi-soft cheese, such as asiago or sharp cheddar, grated (optional)
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Add the bacon to a 4-5 quart Dutch oven or stock pot and turn heat to medium. Cook bacon until crisp, then transfer to paper towel-lined plate.
- Saute the onions, celery, and carrots in the bacon grease until the onions are translucent, about 5 minutes.
- Add the rice, and stir to coat the rice in the onion mixture. Add the wine and stir, scraping up any burnt bits left by the bacon and vegetables. When most of the wine has cooked off, pour in the chicken broth, and increase heat to medium-high; bring the soup to a light boil.
- As the chicken broth heats, place the cornstarch or flour in a small bowl, and add 2 tablespoons of warm to hot broth to the bowl and stir until all is dissolved to create a slurry. Add this to the soup and stir well.
- Decrease the heat to medium-low, maintaining a gentle simmer for 15 minutes. Add the broccoli. Cook the broccoli until it's to your liking. I prefer a little crunch to my broccoli (when it's still relatively bright green), so I just simmer for a few minutes. If your fam need their veggies soft, keep going. Check a piece at 10 minutes and see if it's to your liking.
- Decrease the heat again to low and stir in half of the milk, half of the reserved bacon, and all of the cheese. Your soup should be very thick at this point. Keep stirring to help distribute the cheese. Add more of the milk until the soup reaches the desired thickness.
- Serving suggestion: ladle into bowls and top with bacon, and shredded cheese.