Creamy Broccoli-Cheddar Soup
By Catherine Newman
By Catherine Newman
Makes: 6 servings
Total carbohydrates: 15 grams per serving
Hands-on time: 30 minutes
Total time: 55 minutes
This is my daughter’s favorite soup by a landslide, maybe because the combination of broccoli and cheese makes it less like soup and more like a decadent casserole that’s been. . . liquefied. Don’t be alarmed that there’s no potato or flour to thicken it; it’s plenty thick thanks to the great abundance of broccoli and cheese. But do puree it pretty well, because otherwise it will have a slight tendency to separate into its liquid and solid components (although this is nothing that a little bit of stirring won’t remedy). If you forget to hold back a bit of broccoli and cheese to make it pretty when you serve it, you can garnish the soup with the fact that it is perfectly delicious just the way it is.
4 tablespoons butter
1 onion, chopped
2 celery stalks, sliced
2 cloves garlic, chopped
½ teaspoon kosher salt (or ¼ teaspoon table salt)
1 quart chicken or vegetable broth
A large pinch of dried thyme (or fresh, if you’ve got it!)
1 large bunch broccoli (around 2 pounds)
2 cups half and half
1 teaspoon Dijon or grainy mustard
8 ounces sharp white cheddar, grated
Lemon juice to taste (optional)
Heat the butter in a soup pot over medium-low heat. Add the onion, celery, and garlic and sauté until the onion is translucent, around 10 minutes.
Add the salt, broth, and thyme, bring to a boil over high heat, then turn the heat to low, cover, and simmer while you deal with the broccoli (around 10 minutes).
Deal with the broccoli! If there are any really gnarly stems, trim and peel them a bit, then chop the stems and florets into smallish pieces. You’ll be pureeing the soup, so this doesn’t need to be very pretty or exact.
Add the broccoli to the soup with the half and half and the mustard, then bring back to a simmer, cover, and simmer over low heat until the broccoli is tender, around 15 minutes. (If you want to be fancy, grab out a bit of broccoli after about 5 minutes, while it’s still bright green. You can use this for garnish.)
Stir in the cheese (keep a bit out for garnish, if you like), then puree the soup, either with a stick blender or in a blender in batches, until it is quite smooth. If using a blender, fill the blender jar only half full, remove the center of the lid (also known as the fill cap), and use a dish towel to cover the hole (this prevents steam from building up and blowing the lid off). Now taste the soup. It should be outrageously delicious. If not, add more salt and/or pepper and taste again. If it still needs a little something, you can add the tiniest squeeze of fresh lemon.
Serve, garnished with reserved broccoli and cheese, or not—it really doesn’t need anything.
Catherine loves to write about food and feeding people. In addition to her recipe and parenting blog Ben & Birdy (which has about 15,000 weekly readers), she edits the ChopChop series of mission-driven cooking magazines. This kids’ cooking magazine won the James Beard Publication of the Year award in 2013 – the first non-profit ever to win it – and a Parents’ Choice Gold Award. She also helped develop Sprout, a WIC version of the magazine for families enrolled in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), as well as Seasoned, their senior version. They distribute over a million magazines annually, through paid subscriptions, doctor’s offices, schools, and hospitals. Their mission started with obesity as its explicit focus – and has shifted, over the years, to a more holistic one, with health, happiness, and real food at its core. That’s the same vibe Catherine brings to the diaTribe column.
[Photo Credit: Catherine Newman]