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What cheese is best for soup?

Cheese can be a delicious addition to many soups, adding flavor, texture, and richness. However, not all cheeses work well in soup. The best cheeses for soup are those that melt nicely and incorporate into the soup instead of separating or clumping.

Melting Quality

The most important factor in choosing a cheese for soup is its melting ability. Soft, fresh cheeses like mozzarella, feta, ricotta, and goat cheese melt beautifully into soups. They create a creamy base and evenly distribute their flavor. Harder aged cheeses like parmesan and pecorino romano can also melt nicely when grated and added to hot soup.

Cheeses that don’t melt well, like cheddar, Swiss, provolone, and many aged goudas, tend to become stringy or clumpy when heated in liquid. They don’t incorporate smoothly. While delicious on their own, these cheeses are not the best choice for soup.


Beyond meltability, the flavor of the cheese you choose will impact the overall taste of the soup. Strong, pungent cheeses like aged cheddar and gorgonzola give a potent punch of flavor. Fresh, mild cheeses like mozzarella and ricotta add a delicate creaminess. And nutty, salty cheeses like gruyere, parmesan, and pecorino romano lend a savory umami dimension.

The cheese should complement the other ingredients in the soup. For example, a sharp cheddar would overpower a light vegetable soup, while it could stand up to a hearty potato soup. Smoked gouda would enhance a soup with bacon or ham. And goat cheese would provide nice contrast in a soup with robust flavors from beans or other vegetables.


The texture of the cheese after melting will also determine how it impacts the mouthfeel of the soup overall. Very soft fresh cheeses like ricotta completely dissolve into soup, creating a velvety smooth puree. Semi-soft cheeses like havarti and fontina melt into thick, creamy strands. And firm cheeses like cheddar maintain some chewy bits throughout the soup.

Consider whether you want your soup to be perfectly smooth, have viscous richness, or feature delightful little bites of cheese in each spoonful. Pairing the cheese texture with the soup ingredients is key.

Top Melting Cheeses for Soup

Taking all of these factors into account, here are some of the best cheeses to use in soup:

  • Mozzarella – Fresh and mild, it melts smoothly.
  • Havarti – Creamy texture with buttery flavor.
  • Gruyere – Rich, nutty, melts easily.
  • Fontina – Intense, nutty, becomes velvety when melted.
  • Gouda – Ranges from mild to aged for versatile flavor.
  • Cheddar – Sharp flavor, better for heartier soups.
  • Parmesan – Salty and nutty, enhances umami.
  • Feta – Briny, tangy flavor works well in Mediterranean soups.
  • Goat Cheese – Tart and tangy, pairs nicely with veggies.
  • Ricotta – Extremely creamy melt, neutral flavor.

Worst Cheeses for Soup

On the flip side, here are some cheeses that do not melt well and are less ideal for soup:

  • Swiss – Roes stringy and tough when melted.
  • Provolone – Can become chewy and clump together.
  • Blue Cheese – Overpowers other flavors and doesn’t fully melt.
  • Queso Fresco – Behaves erratically when heated and melted.
  • Mozzarella (low moisture) – Tough, rubbery texture when melted.
  • Halloumi – Gets friable but doesn’t smoothly melt.
  • Paneer – Crumbles and separates, doesn’t fully melt.

Cheese Amount

When adding cheese to soup, moderation is key for best results. Too little and the flavor won’t come through. Too much and the cheese can make the soup greasy or gloppy. As a general rule of thumb:

  • For smooth, creamy soups, use 1 to 2 ounces of cheese per cup of soup.
  • For chunky soups, use 1 to 2 ounces of cheese per 2-3 cups of soup.
  • Grate hard cheeses finely so they melt quickly.
  • Cut semi-soft cheeses into small cubes for even melting.

Melting Technique

Proper melting technique helps keep the cheese integrated in the soup for best texture and flavor. Avoid simply layering cheese on top of soup, as it will become tough and rubbery. Here are some melting tips:

  • Stir shredded cheeses into room temperature soup just before serving.
  • Add cubed cheese to simmering soup and stir well until fully melted.
  • Make a cheese roux by melting butter, whisking in flour, then adding cheese.
  • Create cheese croutons by toasting bread cubes with grated cheese.
  • Fold cheese into hot soup to melt gently without prolonged cooking.

Serving Ideas

There are endless possibilities when it comes to pairing cheese with different soup flavors.

Vegetable Soups

Fresh, soft cheeses complement lighter vegetable soups nicely. Try:

  • Goat cheese in creamy tomato soup
  • Mozzarella in minestrone or basil soup
  • Ricotta in spring pea soup
  • Feta in avgolemono soup

Cream Soups

The richness of cream soups calls for equally decadent melted cheese. Good options include:

  • Gruyere in potato leek soup
  • Fontina in butternut squash soup
  • Havarti in cauliflower or broccoli soup
  • Gouda in loaded baked potato soup

Hearty Soups

For chunky bean, meat, or vegetable soups, go for stronger cheeses that hold their own. Such as:

  • Smoked gouda in ham and bean soup
  • Cheddar in cheeseburger soup
  • Parmesan in minestrone
  • Pecorino romano in Italian wedding soup

International Flavors

Think globally and match the cheese to the origin of the soup.

  • Queso fresco or cotija in pozole
  • Halloumi in Mediterranean chickpea soup
  • Raclette in French onion soup
  • Paneer in Indian dal soup

The possibilities are endless! Match cheese type, flavor, and texture to the style of soup for best results.


At the end of the day, the best cheese for soup comes down to personal preference. But by focusing on cheeses that melt smoothly, complement the other ingredients, and provide the right textural contrast, you can be assured delicious results. Some foolproof options include mozzarella, cheddar, gouda, gruyere, and parmesan. Avoid crumbly or non-melting cheeses. Add cheese moderately and melt it thoroughly for creamy, cheesy goodness in every spoonful.