February 15, 2010
I have a confession: I’m not so into soup. I can hear the collective gasp now. Everyone loves soup. Every foodie especially. I’ve heard from several food lovers that a chef’s ability is best assessed from how well he or she can make a soup. So, I know. You all think soup is great. Important, even. But, for me, it’s just alright.
At least that’s what I go around thinking. Until I eat the right soup. Something hearty and flavorful, silky and rich. Then I get it. I’ve been trying to tap into my occasional enthusiasm for soup since there are so many healthy, low carb, vegetarian options (if you haven’t been following my non-resolutions, I’m trying to cook foods that fit that bill more often). And so this is part of an attempt to master soup. Or at least develop a livelier appreciation for the good stuff. Along with my recent Red Lentil Soup with Sausage, this recipe has me off to a good start.
Broccoli and cheddar are a perfect combination for a family meal. Kids love cheese with their broccoli, it’s healthful (so long as you use all natural cheese, please, and keep it to a reasonable amount) and, handled delicately, the combo makes for a simple and sophisticated flavor.
Using my delicate hand, I skip the cream typically found in broccoli and cheddar soup. Instead, I used potato to thicken it up. (Next time I’m going to use celery root. I’m convinced that it’ll be delicious.) I also keep the cheddar to a cup and a half to avoid over-cheesing and use extra sharp cheddar to get the most out of a modest amount.
Broccoli and Cheddar Soup
(can be served to kids 8+ mos)
1/4 c organic olive oil
1 tbsp organic butter
1 organic onion, chopped
2 c chopped & peeled organic potato, 1/4″ dice
3 cloves organic garlic, chopped
1/2 c organic milk (I used 2%)
1 quart organic chicken or vegetable broth
1 lb organic broccoli, cut into 1-1 1/2 ” pieces (fresh is ideal, frozen works well too)
1 1/2 c shredded organic cheddar cheese
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp organic dijon mustard
1/4 tsp organic nutmeg
1. Heat olive oil and butter in a large dutch over a medium high flame. Add onions and saute until they just begin to caramelize. Add potato and cook until it begins to soften, about 5 minutes or so. Add garlic and cook for another minute or two, until the garlic is fragrant, stirring once or twice.
2. Pour in milk. It should immediately begin to sizzle and thicken. Stir constantly to keep it from burning or cooking down too quickly. When the milk has cooked down to about 1/2 the amount, after just a couple of minutes, lower heat to medium. Add broth and broccoli. Bring to a boil, then cover and cook at a rolling simmer for about 20 minutes, testing to make sure that the potato and broccoli are tender all the way through. If not, return cover and cook for another 5-10 minutes.
3. Uncover, turn off heat and blend until smooth. I use an immersion blender right in the dutch oven. You can also use a blender, working in batches. Just remember to start on the lowest speed or you’ll have soup flying around your kitchen! If using a blender, return all of the soup to the dutch oven. Add cheese, salt, mustard and nutmeg. Turn heat back to medium low and cook for another 5-10 minutes, stirring, allowing the flavors to come together. Take off heat and serve.