Sunday, March 31, 2013

Sunday Recipe!- Broccoli & Cheese Soup

Ok, so if you are anything like me, you love anything with cheese and veggies right?? Growing up, a staple in my house to get us to eat our veggies was to put a slice of that orange Kraft American cheese on top of whatever my brother and I wouldn't eat.  One of my favorite food memories as a child was when my mom would steam broccoli in the microwave and then put a couple Kraft cheese slices on top and then my brother would get half and I would get the other.  Even now, I love broccoli and cheese on almost everything (baked potatoes, bread, sandwiches, SOUP).
Over the years, I've had a lot of trial and errors with broccoli and cheese soup at a number of restaurants but they so many have chicken stock in it so it's always a no-go. Fair warning, these places have broccoli and cheese soup that IS NOT VEGETARIAN: Panera, Au Bon Pain, Jason's Deli, Applebees, Subway, Quiznos.  Some places have vegetarian options of this amazing soup, one of them being Cafe Carolina here in Greensboro, NC.  I always make sure to ask/make a worker if they would check their ingredient list before I even think about ordering the soup.  I figure, it's more likely than not that the soup in restaurants will have chicken stock so why not just make it at home??

I came to this conclusion last April and started doing some research for the best vegetarian recipe for a Broccoli & Cheese Soup.  I ultimately ended up finding this recipe on tastykitchen.com and later found out it was Ree Drummond's recipe!!  I wasn't a big fan of Ree Drummond when I first caught her show on Food Network a couple years ago but I've grown to appreciate her recipes and simple methods! Needless to say, I am a big fan now (but I still won't dvr her show).  Check out her website for great cooking ideas! You can find her recipe here: Pioneer Woman's Broccoli-Cheese Soup.
Here is my printed recipe with my notes
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INGREDIENTS
  • 1 whole Onion, Diced
  • I stick, ½ C butter
  • ⅓ cup Flour
  • 4 Cups Whole Milk (I used 1%milk- who uses whole milk anymore??!! It's practically cream haha)
  • 2 cups Half-and-Half
  • 4 Heads Broccoli Cut into Florets (I used more just because I love broccoli!!!!!!)
  • 1 pinch Nutmeg (play with this amount, based on how much you enjoy the flavor- I used more than just a 'pinch')
  • 3 Cups Grated Cheese (mild Cheddar, Sharp Cheddar, Jack, Etc.) (I used sharp cheddar, can't go wrong with a classic)
  • Small Dash of Salt (more if needed)
  • Freshly Ground Black Pepper
  • Chicken Broth (Nope, just more milk) If Needed for Thinning 
METHOD
  • Melt butter in a pot over medium heat, then add the onions.
  • Cook the onions for 3 to 4 minutes, then sprinkle the flour over the top.
    DSC05768 
  • Stir to combine and cook for 1 minute or so, then pour in milk and half-and-half. 
  • Add nutmeg, then add broccoli, a small dash of salt, and plenty of black pepper.
     DSC05769
  • Cover and reduce heat to low. Simmer for 20 to 30 minutes, or until the broccoli is tender. 
  • Stir in cheese and allow to melt.
  • Taste seasonings and adjust if needed. 
  • Then either serve as is, or mash it with a potato masher to break up the broccoli a bit, or transfer to a blender in two batches and puree completely. (If you puree it in a blender, return it to the heat and allow to heat up. Splash in chicken broth if needed for thinning.) I like it as is, and not a liquid pureed soup so I didn't mash/blend the final product!
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 So, this soup was absolutely delicious but here are a few tips that I learned making the soup that I would take into consideration:
  1. If you like a thinner soup, add less flour (it's used as a thickening agent for the soup) in the beginning stages.
  2. I added more cheese than the recipe called for because I like how the cheese gets stringy.  I used the extra cheese when serving and put on top of the bubbling/hot soup in individual bowls.
  3. This is definitely a heavier, more filling soup so try have some crusty bread to eat with it or even take Ree's recommendation for making your own bread bowl at home!
  4. I love this soup re-heated as well but it had a tendency to become a thick mess after taking it out of the fridge but a simple fix= add some more milk when re-heating on the stovetop (no silly microwave re-heating!!).  It tastes so fresh and delicious!
  5. If you love baked potatoes like I do, try topping off your next baked potato with a bit of this soup for a very filling and semi-naughty meal! (I say semi-naughty because of all the cheese but hello, you are totally eating your veggies too!!)
Hope you enjoyed today's recipe!

Do you have any favorite soup recipes? What are your thoughts on Broccoli&Cheese on practically everything? Which restaurant serves your favorite Broccoli&Cheese Soup??


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