Sunday, May 25, 2014

Creamy Cheesy Broccoli soup

I have blogged about Broccoli soup a couple of times now, and I guess all I can say is that I have never made it the same way twice. Today was a foggy, foggy May day on the coast, perfect weather for soup. Creamy soup, with a fresh loaf of soft French bread slathered with softened butter, and a beer. Perfect!

Our vegetable tote included several heads of deep green, super-fresh broccoli from the local farmers and SLO Veg. Usually I steam the broccoli and eat it as a side to whatever we are having for dinner, but today called for soup and the broccoli was calling me. I also pulled out an onion and the last of a bunch of celery, and then I spotted the fennel that had been hanging out in the refrigerator for at least two weeks, a hold-over from our previous box. That stuff will keep forever, I guess. Hmmmm....fennel might spice up the broccoli soup just a bit. Everything gets pureed, anyway. I had some half and half creamer, so that would do for the milk component. I also had some Mexican shredded cheese, a blend of cheddar and Monterey jack. Nice!

I started by sweating the onions in a quarter cube of melted butter, then I added the chopped onion (about 1 cup) and some chopped fennel (1/4 cup). For good measure, I tossed in a handful of shredded carrots. I let it all saute for about 10 minutes. Martha Stewart says sweating the vegetables for a good long time is key to a good mirepoix, so I am taking her at her word, since I don't really speak French.

Meanwhile, I browsed Pinterest for some recipes...kind of bass-ackwards, but that's just how I roll. I might forget something, you know. Onions, butter, broccoli, broth, salt and pepper, cream...check. I think I can do this. This is gonna be good! 

After 10 minutes or so, I added the two heads of chopped broccoli, saving out a cup or so of florets to add in later. I stirred the vegetables around, then added 6 cups of water and 2 tablespoons of granulated chicken boullion. I let that all simmer while I ran down to the market to get some fresh French bread and a 12 pack of 805. 

So after I returned from the store, it was time to puree the soup. I ladled a few scoops of veggies into the blender carafe, then add a ladle-full of broth and pulsed It, carefully. Hot liquids in a blender can be a disaster. (Actually, I noticed the disaster the next morning, when I saw that soup had splashed onto my coffee and sugar canisters.) It took three batches to do the whole pot. 

Meanwhile I made a roux of butter and flour, adding garlic salt and black pepper, and then some half and half cream. I also added about a half cup of milk because I didn't have that much cream. That probably makes it 1/4 to 3/4 you follow? Sigh! When I was satisfied that the flour had cooked down a bit, I added the pureed soup into the roux ladle by ladle. Then I stirred in about a cup and a half of shredded cheese and let it melt in and get all gooey. I tasted it, then added some coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper. The steamed florets went in last, and the soup was on!

Here is a link for some soup that gave me this inspiration:
Now that's a feast for a cold foggy night! Slices of French bread smeared with yummy butter was served alongside the soup, with an assortment of olives and some peppered salami slices for a nice appetizer.


2 heads of broccoli
1/2 white or yellow onion, chopped
1/4 c butter
1/4 c celery, diced
1/4 c fennel, diced
1/2 c carrots, shredded
6 c chicken broth
1/4 c butter
1/4 c flour
1 c Half and Half creamer or milk
1-1/2 c shredded cheddar/jack cheese 
salt and pepper to taste

Sweat the onions, celery and fennel in 1/4 c butter for 10-15 minutes in a stockpot. Add in chopped broccoli, reserving about 1 c of florets. Steam the florets for 1 minute in a microwave. Add the broth and continue to cook the vegetables for about 15 more minutes. Scoop the vegetables into a blender and add about 1 cup of broth. Pulse carefully with the lid on until pureed. Put pureed vegetables into a large bowl or saucepan. Repeat until all the broccoli mixture is pureed.

In the soup stockpot, melt 1/4 c butter and stir in 1/4 c flour. Add cream a little bit at a time and cook down until the flour mixture is smooth. Slowly ladle the pureed broccoli mixture into the roux. Stir in the shredded cheese until it is all melted. Season with salt and pepper. Add the broccoli florets and stir, Serve in soup bowls with buttered French bread.

Makes about 6-8 servings.

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