Of all puréed vegetable soups, I think cream of broccoli is my favorite. Even if it makes my house smell funny.
It’s especially irresistible when it topped with copious amounts of cheddar cheese… mmm.
When developing the recipe, I wanted the soup to be creamy, but not overly fat-laden and calorie-dense. I wanted the recipe to be delicious, but not to undo all the “good” from eating lots of broccoli. One thing you’ll notice is that I included 1 white potato in the recipe, which once cooked down, helps thicken the soup with all its starchiness. This helped me minimize the amount of half and half to only 1/2 a cup! But the texture is still rich and creamy (Ok, I’m sure the cheese helps too, but I couldn’t eliminate that!). If you’re not worried about calories, feel free to add more cream or cheese or butter or maybe even some bacon :-D
There are a few things I’ll point out about the recipe in advance, since I’m feeling wordy today.
- When I added the broccoli, I also added 1 cup water because I thought it needed a little more liquid to steam and so that it would be thin enough to puree, but you could also start with 4 cups of stock in the beginning and skip the water (4 cups is usually the size of those store-bought containers anyway).
- Just roughly chop the vegetables since they will end up puréed anyway (though you do want them to be roughly the same size so they cook at the same rate). The smaller you cut the potato, the faster it will cook, so if you want to hurry this recipe up, keep things diced small.
- The list below looks like a long list of ingredients, but you probably already have most of them on hand (and the others are inexpensive). Don’t go out and buy a whole head of celery for the recipe (unless you want to) if it seems like too much – just make do with what you’ve got! You could even substitute milk for the half and half if you don’t want to buy that, though you may want to thicken it slightly with a roux (melt butter and mix with an equal part flour, cook for a minute, then add the milk and warm until thickened).
- You can either purée the soup in a blender or drastically improve your quality of living by investing in an immersion blender :), like this, for only around $30 (seeing all those cute colors makes me want another one haha). If using a normal blender (or food processor), make sure to not to fill it more than half full and definitely allow the steam to escape (take the extra piece out of the center of the lid and top with a dish towel).
- The reason I puréed the soup twice was because I wanted some chunks of broccoli left, but not any chunks of potato or onion or celery, etc. If it seems like too much of a hassle (with an immersion blender it’s not at all, but with a normal blender it could be labor intensive), or if you prefer it very smooth and creamy, you could add the broccoli at the same time you add the potato and simmer it all together, then puree.
I calculated the nutrition facts for this soup, in each large serving (that is, if you assume you get 6 big servings out of this pot of soup), there are ~218 calories, 13 grams of fat, 5 grams of fiber and 11 grams of protein (not counting additional cheese for topping). Not too shabby (especially compared to other broccoli cheddar soups I’ve seen that have over 500 calories in a serving!). Plus each bowl had almost 100% of your daily value of Vitamin A and 200% of your Vitamin C! Woot woot.
Cream of Broccoli Soup with Cheddar
Yield: 6 large servings Time: 50 minutes total (including at least 30 inactive)
- 1 stalk celery, chopped
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 1 large or 2 small carrots, chopped
- 1 clove garlic, chopped
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 3 cups stock or broth (chicken or vegetable)
- 2 bay leaves
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon cayenne (depending how much of a kick you want)
- 1 white potato, peeled and diced
- 8 cups broccoli, roughly chopped (this was about 6 crowns for me)
- 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese (plus more for serving)
- 1/2 cup half and half
- Salt and pepper
- Real bacon bits (for topping, if desired)
Melt butter over medium heat in a large soup pot, and sauté celery, onion and carrot until tender, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and sauté for 1 minute.
Add broth, bay leaves, nutmeg, cayenne, salt and pepper and diced potato. Simmer, lightly covered, until potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes.
Discard the bay leaves and puree until smooth (either in a blender or with an immersion blender – see above).
Add in broccoli and 1 cup of water, and simmer (covered) 20 minutes, or until broccoli is tender. Puree again, but not too much, leaving some chunks of broccoli (if desired).
Stir in cheese and half and half, until melted and combined.
Serve with more cheese on top … and possibly with bacon bits if you’re feeling indulgent ;-)