Gluten-Free Broccoli Cheese Soup

Ah…broccoli cheese soup. Before making the change to a real food diet, and going gluten-free, I used to frequent Panera Bread and loved their broccoli cheese soup. But, I always got a headache and felt sick afterwards. And, upon inspection of their website and nutrition/ingredient facts, it’s absolutely no surprise! Here are the ingredients: (at least they post them!)

Broccoli cheddar (Water, milk, broccoli, pasteurized process cheddar cheese [cheddar cheese {pasteurized milk, cheese culture, salt, enzymes}, water, sodium phosphate, milkfat, salt, apocarotenal {color}], cream [cream, milk] carrots, modified corn starch, onions, chicken base [chicken meat in chicken broth {chicken meat, chicken broth, chicken fat, modified corn starch and/or rice flour, salt}, salt, hydrolyzed corn and soy protein, sugar, natural flavorings, potato flour, autolyzed yeast extract, carrot powder, turmeric], flour [bleached wheat flour, malted barley flour, niacin, reduced iron, thiamine, mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid], butter [cream, salt], seasoning [salt, spices, extractives of paprika], soybean oil, mustard [water, vinegar, mustard seed, salt, white wine, fruit pectin, citric acid, tartaric acid, sugar, spice], pepper sauce [vinegar, red pepper, salt]).

Ok, folks, this is a SOUP. One part of a meal that I used to eat there. So when we think we are eating out and making an “okay” choice, this is what really shows up in the bowl. Let’s go through this a bit at a time, shall we?

First on the list is broccoli cheddar” (like is that a flavor of cheese now?) and that is made of (my notes in unbolded italics)Water (probably unfiltered tap water), (pasteurized) milk, (non-organic)broccoli, pasteurized process (yuck!)cheddar cheese [cheddar cheese {pasteurized milk, cheese culture, salt, enzymes}-   Then, water (again, unfiltered tap probably), sodium phosphate (a preservative), milkfat (from grain-fed, feedlot cows, probably), salt (industrial, refined), apocarotenal {color} (an industrial food color)]

It continues: cream [cream, milk] (pasteurized, from feedlot cows, most likely) carrots (non-organic), modified corn starch (eww! it’s chemically modified to change the structure and GMO, I’m sure!) onions, chicken base (never a good sign)[chicken meat (feedlot) in chicken broth {chicken meat, chicken broth (MSG, who knows what), chicken fat (from sick feedlot chickens, toxins accumulate in fat, no good!), modified corn starch and/or rice flour- (um, which one? and there we go with that modified junk again, and if it’s corn starch it’s probably GMO), salt}, salt (refined), hydrolyzed corn and soy protein ( Both genetically modified, I’m sure, and hydrolyzed is code for MSG), sugar (if it’s not cane, it’s probably GMO and why is it in soup?), natural flavorings (code for MSG, could mean ANYTHING), potato flour (just how much starch does a soup need?), autolyzed yeast extract (autolyzed is code for MSG), carrot powder- (why?), turmeric], flour [bleached wheat flour, malted barley flour, niacin, reduced iron, thiamine, mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid] (refined flour-ugh, full of synthetic vitamins/minerals to make up for the refining process- it doesn’t!), butter [cream, salt] (at least it’s not margarine), seasoning [salt, spices,(could mean anything- MSG anyone?) extractives of paprika], soybean oil (horrible for you and full of GMOs), mustard [water, vinegar, mustard seed, salt, white wine, fruit pectin, citric acid, tartaric acid, sugar (in mustard?), spice (too many ingredients here, and not from quality sources)], pepper sauce [vinegar, red pepper, salt]) (this is a weird ingredient, but probably not the worst thing in the soup!).

Needless to say, it’s no mystery why I felt like crap after eating this toxic swill. And is this unique to this one restaurant, and this one soup? NO! Anytime you are eating out, if it’s not a farm-to-table place that makes everything from scratch and you can ask what every ingredient is, it’s probably very similar to this junk- processed, industrial stuff that is made to be sold cheaply and microwaved just for you by some company that couldn’t give a flip about your health.

Was broccoli cheese soup born in a lab or a commercial food industry kitchen? No! It was born in a home kitchen, I’m sure, and made with ingredients you can pronounce, recognize and use in your own kitchen without a chemist’s license. Perhaps your grandmother used to make it for you. That’s real food. So, let’s go back to REAL broccoli cheese soup.

Broccoli Cheese Soup
by Amy Love, Real Food Whole Health

8 TBL butter (from grassfed cows)
1 organic onion, diced
2 organic carrots, diced
2 ribs organic celery, diced
3-4 cloves garlic, smashed, diced
8 cups of organic broccoli, florets and stalks chopped into small pieces(4-5 stalks)
Unrefined sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
¼ tsp white pepper
2 1/2 cups homemade chicken stock/broth
1 cup dry white wine (or additional cup stock)
1 cup of raw cream or crème fraiche (from grass-fed cows)
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
3 cups extra sharp grass fed cheddar


Add the butter to a large stock pot over medium high heat until melted.  Add onions, carrots and celery and sauté until onions are translucent, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 2 minutes.

Add broccoli and stir to coat well with butter. Cook about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Season with salt, pepper and white pepper. Add broth and optional wine. Turn up the heat, bring to a low boil. Turn down to a simmer and cook covered (with lid on) until broccoli pieces are soft, about 15 minutes.

Remove from heat. With an immersion/stick blender, puree soup to desired consistency, or process in a regular blender, in batches, taking care not to burn yourself. Return to pot, off heat, stir in cream, dijon, nutmeg and cheese. Stir to combine and melt cheese. Taste and adjust seasonings. If soup needs to be reheated, reheat slowly and do not allow it to come to a boil. Serve immediately.

On GAPS? If you use creme fraiche and cheddar cheese, this soup is GAPS friendly, as long as you tolerate dairy. Double check the ingredients on your dijon mustard to make sure it’s GAPS legal, or simply omit.

Vegetarian? Just sub veggie broth for the chicken broth.