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Broccoli Cheddar Gnocchi Soup

Start with the comforting flavors of broccoli cheese soup and level it up with a fun twist! Broccoli Cheddar Gnocchi Soup is a creamy, cheesy delight that transforms the classic soup into a hearty option with the addition of carby potato gnocchi. Serve with a nice, toasty baguette, this is a meal-level soup that the whole family will love.

Overhead close-up view of a bowl of Broccoli Cheddar Gnocchi Soup with bread on the side.

It’s a classic for good reason

I think at this point in American cuisine, broccoli cheese soup is ingrained in our collective consciousness as a go-to option, especially when dining out. It’s a can’t-miss combination of a creamy-cheesy broth with tender broccoli and carrots, more for color and substance than flavor.

That’s okay. We’re a cheese-lovin’ food nation, and while I can’t recommend that we all eat cheese soup every day, it still deserves a spot in our homemade soup rotation.

Broccoli cheese soup has been around for ages, but was made popular in 1990 when Campbell’s released its condensed Broccoli Cheese soup in the familiar white and red cans. The launch piggy-backed a drama-filled campaign by broccoli growers in California to get then-President George H.W. Bush to eat broccoli after it became public knowledge that he had banned it from Air Force One. A national pro- and anti-broccoli frenzy ensued. (TL;DR: First Lady Barbara Bush saved the day by declaring to the press that she loved broccoli.)

To be fair to broccoli, I’ve read that former Pres. Bush had been served overcooked-to-mushy-gray broccoli as a child, and who wouldn’t hate that? The broccoli here is cooked until just tender and still vibrant green. There’s simply nothing not to love.

Especially in this soup.

Overhead view of the main ingredients: broccoli, cheese, carrots, gnocchi, spread on a board.

Main Ingredients, Prep Notes, and Substitutions

Broccoli — You have a few choices for buying broccoli. My store sells 12-ounce packages of broccoli florets, which, after a little bit of trimming, was perfect for this recipe. You can also more economically buy an entire head. Or sometimes stores sell “crowns,” which are heads that have been broken into a couple of slightly smaller trees.

These options will need cleaning and a lot of trimming, and then measuring out. I’d suggest about a pound of broccoli to get the 3 cups for the recipe. I would imagine that frozen, uncooked broccoli (thawed) would work just fine, but note that I haven’t tried it.

Could you turn this recipe into broccoli cauliflower gnocchi soup? Or all cauliflower instead of broccoli? Absolutely! The cauliflower might need a few more minutes to cook, so you’ll want to be aware of that.

Cheese — A nice sharp cheddar cheese should be the core of the shredded cheese here. I also included Monterey Jack, which is a super melty, flavorful white cheese. You can definitely use all cheddar, though.

But please, please, buy a block of a quality brand and shred it yourself. Pre-shredded cheese is coated in anti-caking and anti-mold agents that (1) replace some of the weight of the cheese, so an 8-ounce package is not actually 8 ounces of cheese. And (2) those additives prevent a smooth and creamy melt, adding a graininess that you don’t notice on tacos, but would definitely notice here.

I’m not against convenience foods, but when a smooth and creamy cheese sauce is a critical part of the soup, it’s worth the effort. You can even shred the cheese ahead of time and stash it in the fridge.

Gnocchi — For me, gnocchi has two things going for it. Texture is super important in my food, and I just love the pillowy bites of potato gnocchi. Firm yet soft, it’s like eating clouds if such a thing were possible. And then there’s the carbs. I hope it’s not weird to admit that I love bland carbs. Rice, pasta, potatoes, gnocchi, these foods are pure comfort, and when seasoned just right … ooolala.

Gnocchi in a broccoli cheese soup is like the best cheesy loaded baked potato you’ve ever had, in soup form. Such a win!

Dairy — This soup is heavy on the dairy! From butter to milk to heavy cream to cheese, we’ve got all you dairy lovers covered. A quick word about the milks: I call for both whole milk and heavy cream, for two very different purposes.

Whole milk makes a nice, smooth roux, which forms the basis for this soup. Heavy cream would end up too thick and gloppy for my tastes. Even half-and-half is pushing it.

But then after the roux is exactly how we like it, heavy cream goes in to add the heft we want in a broccoli cheese soup. I know it’s sort of annoying to buy both, but hopefully your grocery store sells pints (or even half pints).

And about low-fat milk: it’s worth emphasizing that this recipe is in no way health soup. Not even close. I totally get watching the nutrition stats in a recipe, but cutting fat by using a thinner milk will probably produce a disappointing result.

I have not experimented with dairy substitutes for this particular recipe. If you’re looking for a lighter vegan soup, I definitely recommend my Broccoli Cauliflower Glow Soup. No milk, no cheese, just creamy broccoli goodness.

Aromatics — As part of the roux, we give Broccoli Cheddar Gnocchi Soup a strong flavor foundation by starting with onions and garlic. Without aromatics, I feel like we’d eating a big bowl of cheese sauce punctuated with a few vegetables. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but this is a soup, and my goal for every soup I post on this site is a well-rounded flavor profile.

An overhead view of Broccoli Cheddar Gnocchi Soup in a white bowl with a side of baguette slices on a wooden board.

Cook’s Notes

  • Can you make this soup ahead of time? Or keep the leftovers? — Yes, absolutely. In fact, it tastes even better the next day, I think. But do note that the soup will probably solidify in the fridge. It’s not a problem. Just be sure to keep some extra broth handy. Reheat the soup slowly over medium heat, and loosen it with small additions of broth. The broccoli will lose some of its vivid coloring overnight, but that’s okay. It still tastes great!
  • Can you freeze this soup? — I am not a fan of freezing dairy-heavy dishes. I think the cream and cheese would miserably break apart upon reheating, and you’d have a very weird soup. But, if you plan on making this soup often, you could try freezing a little bit of it to see what happens to it.
  • Can you use homemade gnocchi? — Yaas! Homemade gnocchi is absolutely lovely and would work a treat here. Even flavored variations, like my Pumpkin Gnocchi.
  • Seasonings — Keep in mind that dairy, while adding amazing texture, usually dulls the flavor in a dish, and it’s no exception here. That’s why I include umami-packed Worcestershire sauce and mustard in the mix as a flavor boost. During cooking, you’ll want to taste the soup often and make sure it’s sufficiently salted to your liking. Cheese is salty, you might be thinking, but it’s not salty enough to counteract the effect of the heavy cream.
  • Carrots — I love carrots in this Broccoli Cheddar Gnocchi Soup. They add a little sweetness and nice pops of color. Be sure to grate or shred the carrots. Carrots take a much longer time to cook than broccoli, and I think even diced carrots would end up too crunchy with just a 10-minute cook.
  • Cheese — Did you catch the part where I asked you super nicely to buy a block of cheese and shred it at home? No? I implore you, please buy the block of cheese. The shreds don’t need to be perfect — a simple box grater will work, or you can shred it in your food processor.

How to Make Broccoli Cheddar Gnocchi Soup with Step-by-Step Photos

Ready to make the recipe? Skip to the recipe card now to get the full ingredient list, quantities, cooking times, and detailed instructions. Or, keep scrolling for a visual walk-through of making this soup.

Step 1: Saute the aromatics

Photo duo of step one of making the soup: sauteing the butter and aromatics.

Saute the onions in butter over medium heat until soft. Then stir in the garlic and seasonings and cook until fragrant. This is the start of something beautiful!

Step 2: Make the roux (add the flour)

Making the roux with butter, flour, milk, and the aromatics.

Sprinkle the flour over the aromatics and stir well, creating a loose paste while the rawness of the flour cooks off. This is the famous roux!

Next, we notch it up by stirring in the milk a little at a time to create a rich and creamy bechamel. Make sure there are no clumps of dried flour. Note that there will be lumps of onions!

Step 3: Add the liquids

The creamy-smooth soup broth, ready to take on the veggies.

Stir in the broth, heavy cream, Worcestershire sauce and mustard until smooth — just look at that smooth broth ^^^. Increase the heat to bring the soup to a gentle, bubbling boil.

Step 4: Add the broccoli and carrots

A photo duo of the broccoli and carrots cooking in the creamy soup.

Carefully add the broccoli florets and carrots to the pot, stirring well to ensure the vegetables are submerged. Cook for 10 minutes or until the broccoli is very tender.

Stir frequently — remember that there is dairy in the pot, and you want to prevent it from scorching the bottom of your pan. Also keep the heat only hot enough to maintain that gentle boil, not full blast.

Step 5: Cook the gnocchi

Potato gnocchi gently cooking in boiling water.

While the vegetables cook, prepare the gnocchi in a separate pot of boiling water. Potato gnocchi usually takes 3-4 minutes to cook, but do follow the package directions. Drain and set aside.

Step 6: Mix in the cheese

Stirring the grated cheese into the soup - the best part.

When the broccoli is tender, reduce the heat to low and let the soup rest for a few minutes. This is important to cool things down a bit so that the cheese doesn’t break apart into an oily mess.

When the soup has stopped bubbling and is still across the surface, begin stirring in the cheese a handful at a time. Take it slow and make sure each addition is completely mixed in before the next. The soup will become increasingly thick and creamy.

Step 7: Finally, add the gnocchi

Overhead shot adding the cooked gnocchi to the soup.

When the soup is smooth and creamy, gently stir in the gnocchi. Give it one final taste, and add more salt and black pepper if needed. Serve immediately.

The soup, all finished.

I don’t really need toppings with this soup, but you could add more shredded cheese, some croutons, chopped chives, or crumbled bacon.

This is a soup that really benefits from a side of bread for dipping in the cheesy broth. A fresh baguette with a crispy crust, sliced thickly, is just the ticket.

A piece of bread being dipped into the Broccoli Cheddar Gnocchi Soup.

I always create my soup recipes for four servings, but … this soup is very filling. As with all of my soups, the test batches become my lunches for the week, while the finalized version gets more taste testers looped in after it’s photographed. I made the questionable decision to fill my lunch soup mug to the top, and I was stuffed. In the best way, of course, with cheesy broccoli goodness.

Karen xo
Overhead view of Broccoli Cheddar Gnocchi Soup in a white bowl with a side of sliced bread.
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Broccoli Cheddar Gnocchi Soup Recipe

Broccoli Cheddar Gnocchi Soup combines the classic flavors of broccoli cheese soup with tender gnocchi, creating a creamy, comforting, and satisfying meal perfect for any time of the year.
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Prep Time20 minutes
Cook Time30 minutes
Total Time50 minutes
Course: Soup
Cuisine: American
Keyword: broccoli cheddar gnocchi soup, broccoli cheese soup
Servings: 4
Author: Karen Gibson

Ingredients

  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1 small white or sweet onion, chopped (or 1/2 of a medium)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 2 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2 teaspoons prepared Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 large carrot, scrubbed and shredded
  • 3 cups raw broccoli florets, stems trimmed and florets cut to bite size*
  • 16 ounces potato gnocchi
  • 8 ounces shredded sharp cheddar cheese (or a mix of sharp cheddar and melty cheese like Monterey jack)**

Instructions

  • Melt the butter in a 4 quarter soup pot or Dutch oven set over medium heat. Add the onions and saute until soft (about 5 minutes). Stir in the garlic, along with a big pinch of salt and black pepper.
  • Sprinkle the flour over the aromatics and stir to create a paste, letting the raw flour cook off for a minute or two.
  • Whisk in the milk 1/3 cup at a time, incorporating completely before adding the next pour. You’re making the basis for the cheese sauce here. The bechamel will be very thick and should not have any lumps of flour.
  • Next, add the remaining liquids and the mustard, mixing thoroughly (a whisk is helpful here), and raise the heat to medium-high to bring the soup to a gentle boil. Note that the broth will be very thin now. No worries, it will thicken as we go!
  • Keep in mind that with dairy in the pot, you’ll want to stir frequently throughout the rest of the recipe to prevent the dairy from scorching the bottom of the pan.
  • Add the shredded carrots and broccoli. Adjust the heat so that the soup maintains an active simmer (not an aggressive boil) and cook for 10 minutes. Don’t forget to stir!
  • While the broccoli cooks, bring a separate medium pot of water to boil and cook the gnocchi per package directions (potato gnocchi usually cooks in about 3 minutes; they’re ready when they’ve risen to the surface and are floating). Drain and set aside.
  • Fish out one piece of broccoli with a spoon and some broth and taste, to make sure the broccoli is tender and the broth is flavorful. Adjust with more salt and pepper as needed.
  • Reduce heat to low and let the soup rest for several minutes, until the bubbling stops.
  • Begin adding the cheese, one handful at a time, stirring constantly. The soup will become rich and creamy.
  • Finish by adding the cooked gnocchi to the soup and gently stirring. Give the soup one more taste, and adjust with salt and pepper as needed.

Notes

* Prep note for the broccoli: I usually buy a 12 ounce bag of fresh florets, trim the stems away, and then cut the florets into bite-sized/spoon-sized pieces.
** It’s not the funnest job in the world, but it’s absolutely worth shredding a block of real cheese. Bags of shredded cheese have ingredients like cellulose (wood chips) and other anti-caking agents that keep the cheese from sticking together and to resist mold. None of these things add up to delicious, melty cheese. Buy the block, shred it fresh.
Nutritional information, if shown, is provided as a courtesy only, and is not to be taken as medical information or advice. The nutritional values of your preparation of this recipe are impacted by several factors, including, but not limited to, the ingredient brands you use, any substitutions or measurement changes you make, and measuring accuracy.
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