Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Eat this post! Great cream of broccoli soup recipe

It's gotten a little cooler in my neck of the woods.

One of the things I like about living here in the southeast is that there are generally four distinct seasons. Sure, spring may be short-lived with a lurch right into hot weather. Or winter may seem like just a long extension of fall (especially last year, which was so unseasonably warm some people didn't even wear a coat all winter). But I can usually point to four separate seasons, each building excitement at the thought of the changes it brings.

Cooler weather calls for soup. There! I've taken a stand. My first adamant statement of the blog. Cool weather calls for soup, dammit!

That was not as impactful as I hoped.

But anyway, I love a good cream soup. (Note I said a good cream soup. My company's cafeteria serves several cream soups that are the consistency of kindergarten paste. That's a different animal. Run like the wind from those soups and from the obviously troubled people who make them.)

Many "cream of..." soup recipes call for flour or cornstarch as a thickener. Since we've been eating gluten free, wheat flours aren't an option. And though I like corn starch as a general thickener, it just seems out of place and overkill in a cream soup or bisque.

So I came up with this recipe. It honestly and truly came right off the top of my pointy little head, so any similarity to other recipes, living or dead, is purely coincidental. (Hey! My first disclaimer! This post is SO a post of firsts!) So far I've only tried the recipe with broccoli, but I have plans to try it with spinach, asparagus, carrots, mushrooms, etc.

Confabulous Cream of Broccoli Soup

olive or coconut oil (I'm partial to olive.)
1/2 onion, finely chopped
1 stalk celery, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed (optional) (I usually cheat and buy pre-minced garlic in a jar.)
2 large heads broccoli, chopped (Sometimes I cheat and use broccoli slaw. It's good, but you miss out on the florets.)
approx 2 cups chicken broth
approx 2 cups cream
salt, pepper, and butter (optional) to taste
cheese (optional) (I like good ole' cheddar.)

Saute the onion and celery in a little olive or coconut oil until the onion is soft and heading toward translucent.

Add the garlic, if you're using it, and saute for a minute or two longer. Don't let the garlic burn.

Add the chopped broccoli or broccoli slaw. Saute with the onion, celery, and garlic for a minute or two to let the flavors meld.

Add the chicken broth to the vegetables in the pot, enough chicken broth to cover the broccoli. Cover and bring to a boil. Simmer until the broccoli is fork-tender.

Slowly add the cream to the vegetables and broth, bring to a low simmer but do not allow to boil.

Puree to desired smoothness with an immersion (stick) blender. You can also puree by ladling the mixture into a blender or food processor and then returning to the pot on the stove. I use an immersion blender, but I do not blend the soup to a completely smooth and homogeneous state. I prefer a little texture. (This is where using the broccoli florets rather than the broccoli slaw makes a difference. The florets add a little textural variety and contribute to a "frothiness" in blending.) Some method of blending the soup is a must because the pureed vegetables thicken the soup and eliminate the need for flour or corn starch.

If you would like to make broccoli cheese soup, add grated cheese to the hot soup and stir until melted. Of course, the cheese will also thicken the soup. Add the cheese a little bit at a time so that the soup does not become too thick.

Taste the soup. It will be rich, but mild. Season to taste with salt, pepper, butter, and anything else you think might dress it up.

If the soup is too thick for your taste, add more cream or chicken broth. My goal is to have a nice thick creamy soup, but not one that congeals in the bowl before I can finish it. Trial and error may come into play here.

Cook ahead potential
I think this freezes well. Let me put it this way, I made it, I froze it, and I have high hopes for the tasty thaw.

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