We recently had to replace our furnace – heading into the holidays, no less – OUCH! And since the professor was on campus, I was in charge of wrangling 4 Maine Coons (have you ever tried wrangling cats, let alone big cats who weigh more than 15 lbs each??) as well as supervising a crew of guys removing the old furnace and installing a new one. What’s a girl to do but head to the kitchen? I had wanted to make this broccoli soup recipe for some time and this seemed like the perfect opportunity. As a side note, the day began with a crew of 2 and we ended the day with a crew of 5 – who, one by one, stuck their head in the kitchen to declare, ‘boy, something smells good in here!’ And they were right!
I love broccoli-cheddar soup but find that most are heavy on the cheese and cream, light on the broccoli and what’s there is a bit sad and overcooked. Which is why I’ve rarely ordered it off a menu let alone bothered to make it at home . . . until I stumbled upon this recipe from Heidi Swanson of 101 Cookbooks. And all I can say is, where have you been all my life??? Oh my.
What sets this recipe apart is a dose of whole-grain mustard and the sprinkling of smoked paprika right before serving. In fact, the mustard is used both in the croutons as well as in the soup itself. The creme fraiche is optional but the smoked paprika puts this soup over the top so if you don’t have some in your pantry, it is totally worth purchasing. Not only is the soup easy-peasy, it comes together in about 30 minutes and is absolutely DEE-LISH!
Broccoli Cheddar Soup
Heidi Swanson – 101 Cookbooks
If you like a slightly creamier soup, stir in a generous dollop of creme fraiche after pureeing. You can easily make this soup vegan by using olive oil and omitting the cheese/creme fraiche, and you can make it gluten-free by doing something in place of the croutons.
5-6 ounce chunk of artisan whole wheat bread, torn into little pieces (less than 1-inch), roughly 3 cups total
1/4 cup butter or olive oil (I like 1/2 and 1/2)
1 1/2 tablespoons whole grain mustard
1/4 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
2 tablespoons unsalted butter or olive oil
1 shallot, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
1 large potato, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch cubes (1 1/2 cups)
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
3 1/2 cups light, good-tasting vegetable broth
1 large head of broccoli (12 ounces or 3/4 lb.), cut into small florets (I’ve used organic packaged florets in a pinch – the plus here is that it’s pre-measured at 12 ounces)
2/3 cup freshly grated aged Cheddar, plus more for topping – make sure to use a really good sharp cheddar (Feta is great too!)
1 – 3 teaspoons whole grain mustard, to taste
smoked paprika, more olive oil, creme fraiche (optional)
Preheat your oven to 350F degrees and place the torn bread in a large bowl. In a small saucepan heat the butter until it has melted. Whisk the mustard and salt into the butter and pour the mixture over the bread. Toss well, then turn the bread onto a baking sheet and bake for 10 – 15 minutes, or until the croutons are golden and crunchy. Toss them once or twice with a metal spatula along the way.
While the croutons are toasting, melt the butter (or olive oil) in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir in the shallots, onion, and a big pinch of salt. Saute for a couple minutes. Stir in the potatoes, cover, and cook for about four minutes, just long enough for them to soften up a bit. Uncover, stir in the garlic, then the broth. Bring to a boil, taste to make sure the potatoes are tender, and if they are stir in the broccoli. Simmer just long enough for the broccoli to get tender throughout, 2 – 4 minutes.
Immediately remove the soup from heat and puree with an immersion blender. Add half the cheddar cheese and the mustard (a little bit a a time). If you are going to add any creme fraiche, this would be the time to do it. Now add more water or broth if you feel the need to thin out the soup at all. Taste and add more salt if needed.
Serve sprinkled with croutons, the remaining cheese, a drizzle of olive oil, and a tiny pinch of smoked paprika.
Serves 4 – 6.