Happy almost New Year and hope everyone had a merry winter holiday, for those of you that celebrate it. I spent Christmas with M’s family in Oregon, which was a little weird given the lack of snow, but nice to spend the time with his family. We did not celebrate with the cinnamon rolls I posted two weeks ago, but I did make pie for Christmas Eve dinner with the grandparents. Maybe I’ll get the blueberry recipe up sometime next year.
This week I’m posting a nice cozy soup, great for the week between Christmas and New Year’s where all you want to do is hang out inside and relish those last few days off work or school. This is a simple recipe, and pretty quick to make, but it’s hearty and creamy and with all that broccoli in there it masquerades as vaguely healthy.
I like to use sharp cheddar in soups, but some pepperjack or gouda or any combination that strikes your fancy is sure to be delightful. A creamy base with generous amounts of cheese is intertwined with a hefty amount of broccoli, sure to please your cozy palate without feeling too much guilt about it.
I added a little celery as filler, but it’s just fine without it if you don’t have it on hand. Likewise you could throw a little zucchini in there. Since it’s puréed anyway, it’s a great soup for sneaking a couple extra neutral veggies into a meal.
When I was making it, M frowned at the idea of a meatless soup, so I added some diced turkey at the end to satiate him. It certainly is not necessary and the soup is great in its original vegetarian state, but if, like me, you have some carnivores to appease, some chicken or turkey is a great addition.
It goes great with a side of whole grain bread for either lunch or dinner, and reheats nicely if you have leftovers. If you’re looking for a simple and classic meal that’s maybe a little less extravagant than typical holiday fair, make a batch of this soup.
Broccoli Cheese Soup
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen
Makes about 2 quarts (a little more if you add meat)
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 small onion, finely diced
2 small stalks celery, finely diced (optional)
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup half-and-half
4 cups low-sodium vegetable or chicken broth
1/2 tsp garlic powder
freshly ground pepper, to taste
1.5 pounds broccoli, chopped small (about 8 cups)
1 large carrot, grated (about 1 cup)
1-2 cups cooked, diced chicken or turkey breast (optional)
8 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, grated
- In a heavy pot over medium heat, melt the butter.
- Add onion and celery and sauté until softened and onions are translucent.
- Stir in flour until no lumps remain, then stir in half and half until smooth.
- Add broth, garlic powder, and pepper, and bring to a simmer.
- Simmer over medium-low about 10 minutes, until mixture thickens slightly.
- Add broccoli and carrot, and simmer until softened, about 20 minutes.
- Use an immersion blender (or any blender) to puree the soup to your preferred texture. I like it mostly smooth with a few chunks of broccoli, but you can blend as little or as much as you like.
- If using poultry, add it now and simmer an additional 5 minutes or until meat is warmed through.
- Remove soup from the heat and stir in the cheese until completely incorporated.
- Serve hot with an extra pinch of cheese, a sprinkle of freshly ground pepper, and a side of savory bread.