With the winter wonderland upon us it is the season for eating warming foods, and nothing is better than hot, freshly scratched soup. For us, we really like to go with those heartier soups, the kind that stick to your ribs and make you feel all warm inside. Fortunately, soups like this are really easy to put together, and if you serve them with some rustic, crusty bread for sopping up those last little bits of soup, well, it’s a complete meal.
This recipe is based, loosely, on Julia Child’s recipe in The Way to Cook, just as tasty, but easier to put together.
Serves 4 as a starter course, or 2 as a main.
- 1 large head of broccoli, about 1/2 pound
- 1 cup vegetable broth
- 1/4 cup finely chopped onions
- 2 cups milk
- 2 Tbs butter
- 2 Tbs flour
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese (optional)
If you are going to be adding cheese, we suggest a sharp Cheddar, with this amount, it’ll add a subtle flavor — it won’t be “cheese soup” — and richness, more like an accent flavor. Mild Cheddars might get washed out completely.
Wash and chop broccoli. Trim off the bottom of the stems,and if needed, peel off the tough skin on the stems. Then chop into 1/2- to 3/4-inch pieces.
Steam. In a 3-quart saucepan, steam the broccoli until tender in 1/2-inch of lightly salted water, about 5-6 minutes. We use roughly 1/4 tsp of salt.
Drain. Arrange your colander so that when you drain the broccoli, the excess liquid will end up in the bowl of your food processor. You don’t want the water to go to waste.
Shock the broc. Here’s the secret for bright green broccoli. Shock it. By that we mean, place it under cold running water to arrest the cooking. It’ll take about 15-30 seconds. Now just set it aside, while we make some roux.
Saute onion. Melt the butter in the same 3 quart saucepan, add onions, and sauté until tender, but not brown, about 3-5 minutes.
Add flour. We’re making a roux, so we can have a thicker cream soup, and a roux is really nothing other than flour and some fat cooked together. Stir the roux and cook for about 5 minutes. Since it’s a cream soup, you don’t want it to brown.
Add milk. Do this in three stages to prevent lumping, first add about 1/2 cup of the milk, and mix it in. As it heats, it will thicken until it looks like a small amount of mashed potatoes. Then add half of the remaining milk, and mix that in. Then add the rest of the milk stirring until smooth.
Add broth. We save and freeze the cooking water from when we steam vegetables just so we can have it on hand for things like this. In our case, it was frozen, but we just dropped it right in.
Bring to a simmer. Heat the soup to a simmer, stirring often to prevent scorching. Cook it for at least 10 minutes to eliminate the raw flour taste. Otherwise your soup will taste like wallpaper paste.
Add cheese. If you’re using cheese add it now and stir until melted.
Purée broccoli. Add the broccoli into the now cooled cooking broth that is in the bowl of the food processor and process for a minute or two, until finely chopped.
Add broccoli to soup. Now scrape the broccoli purée into the soup and bring back up to serving temperature.
Adjust seasoning. If you find it necessary, now is the time to add salt and pepper.
Serve. Nothing like freshly scratched soup.
We use this basic recipe for most our cream soups, regardless of the vegetable. The cream part is light enough that it doesn’t overwhelm the flavors of the other ingredients, think mushrooms in cream of mushroom soup, and yet it is hearty enough to make a meal. Five stars.