Homemade vs Bought: Cheesy Broccoli Cheddar Soup

November 28, 2022 | Jody Gatewood

cheesy broccoli soup in bowl

As colder weather arrives, I find myself drawn to a warm bowl of soup. My boyfriend’s favorite soup is broccoli cheddar, and we find ourselves craving it this time of year. The question becomes, do we go to the nearest restaurant and try theirs, grab a can from the store, or make from scratch? I recently tried all three and am here to share my thoughts!

First, I tried a common brand from the store. The drive from my apartment to the grocery store was about 7 minutes, and it did not take long to locate the desired soup. Once home all that was required was to reheat the soup on the stove and enjoy! Upon first taste I noticed how small the broccoli pieces were in the soup and how everything had a mushy texture. It tasted bland and did not carry a strong flavor overall.

Next was the restaurant broccoli cheddar soup. The drive to the restaurant took about 10 minutes, then an extra 20 minutes to order and receive my food. At the restaurant you also get your choice of a side, either bread, chips, or an apple. I chose the bread which was a nice addition to the soup. By the time I had received the soup and drove home it was lukewarm. However, this soup tasted delicious and had chopped carrots added into it which was a unique touch. This one had much more flavor than the canned soup and included many seasonings you could taste.

Finally, it was down to the Spend Smart. Eat Smart. Cheesy Broccoli Soup recipe. This recipe is fairly simple, requiring frozen broccoli, flour, onion powder, black pepper, butter, milk, and cheese. I had all the ingredients but the broccoli and cheese at my apartment, so once again it was about a 7-minute drive to the store. The prep time was about 15 minutes from start to finish with clear, concise instructions. I used shredded cheddar cheese that was suggested in the tips instead of the American cheese listed in the recipe. I think the shredded cheese gave it an even cheesier flavor. The broccoli was bright green, and the soup was smooth and warm. The flavor was more subtle than the restaurant kind, but it let the cheese and broccoli shine as the stars of the dish.

Below is a comparison between all three different types of broccoli cheddar soup. The cost per serving was highest at the restaurant, considering you do get a side along with the soup, it was still quite high compared to the other two. Calories, fat and protein were highest in the homemade, which made it a much more filling meal in my opinion. However, sodium was the lowest, as no extra salt was added in the homemade version.

Serving size Cost/serving Calories Fat (g) Protein (g) Sodium (mg)
Homemade 1 cup $0.81 306 16 13 585
Canned (common brand) 1 cup $1.09 160 12 5 800
Restaurant (Nationwide Chain) 1 cup $6.49 230 15 8 930


In conclusion, the homemade Spend Smart. Eat Smart. recipe is a winner in my book. The quick simple recipe with easy to find ingredients makes for a filling, warm, comforting meal. I might try adding some carrots or other spices to give more flavor that I enjoyed from the restaurant meal. Next time you are craving broccoli cheddar soup like me and my boyfriend, try out the Spend Smart. Eat Smart. Cheesy Broccoli Soup!


Anna is a senior student at Iowa State University majoring in Dietetics and minoring in Human Development and Family Studies. Along with her nutrition assistant role for ISU Extension, she also works as manager for the Retail Store at the ISU Creamery. She loves all things baking and cooking, as well as spending time outside!

Jody Gatewood

Jody Gatewood is a Registered Dietitian who enjoys spending time in the kitchen baking and preparing meals for her family. She does lots of meal planning to stay organized and feed her family nutritious meals.

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