May 17, 2014

Broccoli cheddar soup




For this creamy version of Souper Saturday (I know it's cheese-y, omg! I can't help myself!) I bring you a lighter, less processed, version of broccoli cheddar soup. I resisted looking up versions of this recipe online. I wanted to think through the steps, and I'm glad I did. This soup is really an altered base for a white cheese sauce.  I use sharp cheddar, 2% reduced-fat milk, broccoli, and spices. I don't use cornstarch, processed cheese, or half and half.  The addition of fresh scallions is really good. This soup is so much better the next day.

Broccoli Cheddar Soup
Yield: 4 servings, 1 and 1/2 cups each

4 cups water for boiling
1 large stalk or 2 crowns broccoli, chopped fine (totals about 2 cups) *see note
3 tbsp flour
3 cups reduced fat 2% milk
1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, diced
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt
generous cracked black pepper
1 cup vegetable broth or no-chicken broth
2 cups sharp cheddar, grated
2 medium scallions chopped, reserve a few tbsp for the garnish

Special tools: a large and medium soup stockpot, a colander, a cutting board, box grater, knives, a whisk, and a 4-cup Pyrex glass measuring cup

Step 1: In a large soup stockpot, heat up the water until boiling.

Step 2: Add 3 tbsp of flour to the 4-cup Pyrex measuring cup. Pour in 1/3 cup of milk and whisk until combined thoroughly. Once the flour is dissolved, pour in the remainder of milk until you have 3 cups. Set aside.

Step 3: When the water begins to boil, add in the prepped broccoli, and cook until the broccoli turns bright green, about 5 minutes. Immediately, drain the broccoli in a colander and rinse under cold water to stop the broccoli from cooking further. An alternative method would be to blanch the broccoli by draining the broccoli and then adding it to a large bowl with ice water. Set aside the broccoli.

Step 4: Wipe out the soup stockpot (or use another large soup stockpot) and heat it over medium heat. Add in the olive oil, and the onions, and saute until translucent about 4 minutes. Add the nutmeg, black pepper, and salt. Stir to combine. Pour in the milk and stir to combine. Be careful to not boil the milk. It should be heating up gradually. Turn down the heat to medium low if the flame is too hot. Once the milk is hot and steamy, stir in the cheese and broth. Continue to stir until the cheese begins to melt. Keep stirring, so the cheese does not settle at the bottom and cook.

Step 5: Continue to heat the soup over medium-low heat until the soup thickens, about 20 minutes. Give the soup a stir every 4-5 minutes or so. Once the soup is thickened, add the cooked broccoli and the scallions, and heat up until hot. Serve the soup by passing chives and slices of sourdough at the table.

*Note: What to do with the broccoli stalk? To use the stalk, cut off the crown, and then trim off the bottom woody end of the stalk. You want to cut off the stem until it gives easily and does not feel tough. Trim the stem by cutting lengthwise revealing a green interior. Dice the stalk and cook it along with the crowns.

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