Broccoli & Cheddar Soup
Not too long ago, if someone asked me what foods I disliked, broccoli would have been pretty high on the list, close behind cilantro. When I decided I wanted to start cutting carbohydrates from my big meals, I needed to figure out ways to bulk up my meals to feel full and satisfied.
A lot of recipes for broccoli call for steaming or boiling, and in my opinion, that ruins a perfectly delicious and herbaceous flavoured vegetable. Soggy trees of broccoli smothered in a fake cheese sauce just doesn't cut it for me.
One day, it was on sale for .99 cents for a nice bushy bunch and I just bought it. I trained myself to love cauliflower, why not broccoli? I chopped it up small and roasted it...that recipe will come soon but it totally changed the way I thought about broccoli.
The other day I was at a restaurant with someone and they ordered the broccoli cheddar soup. Since cheese and broccoli go together in almost any capacity the soup seems to be super popular. When my dining partner received their soup I was a little thrown by the super thick texture. It was pretty obvious that it had been thickened with corn starch-possibly too much. But they enjoyed the soup, and offered me a spoonful. When I tasted it, I could tell that with the right tweaking this was something I could get behind.
So I explored. Here's what I came up with after reading several articles about broccoli and how to incorporate cheese into liquids without clumping.
- 1 large carrot, diced
- 1 large onion, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, diced
- 2 bunches broccoli (approx. 4 cups of tops, 2 cups of stems chopped & separated)
- 3 cups sharp cheddar, grated
- 3 cups veggie broth
- 3 cups milk
- 2 tbs olive oil
- 2 tbs flour
- 1 pinch thyme
- 1 tsp yellow mustard
- 3 dash tobasco
- 1 tsp fish sauce
- Salt & pepper to Taste
*You will need a stick/hand blender for this as the technique is pretty important for good consistency. If you don't have one, use a regular blender and slowly add the cheese, then transfer the smooth soup to the pot.
- Preheat oven to 410F. Spread florets of broccoli out (save stems for later) on baking sheet covered with parchment. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, and roast for approx. 15 mins- or until you notice some browning on the ends. Removed from oven and put aside.
- In a large soup pot, sauté onion, carrot and chopped broccoli stems until soft (5-7 mins).
- Once veggies are softened add garlic and thyme, and sauté for another 2 minutes.
- Mix olive oil, mustard, and flour together with 1 tbs of broth in a bowl and toss the veggies to coat. Stir for 1 min to get even coating on veggies.
- Add broth and bring to a low simmer for approx. 5 mins until veggies are soft.
- Use hand blender to smooth out the mixture to a nice creamy texture, turn down to low.
- Add milk and blend again.
- Using only a handful at a time, and keeping the hand blender on, add cheese. Wait until fully blended and incorporated before adding the next handful.
- Once all blended add fish sauce and tabasco.
- Add roasted florets, season with salt and pepper.
Why does this method work? Well, cheese is made up with a lot of water and fat. As you know, when you separate the cheese emulsion of water and fat, they separate (ie: grease slick on top of pizza or lumpy gloopy cheese soup.) By bringing a bit of flour (or other starch), mustard and olive oil to the party, you are re-emulsifying the cheese to a nice creamy texture. It will help stabilize the milk fat in the milk too so you won't curdle as easy. The blender is an important tool to help the emulsification take place.