Last week John was in Boston for work. I, as usual, used this occasion as an excuse to make any food I wanted.
So I wanted broccoli soup. What's wrong with that?
Oh man, was this ever good. Broccoli soup is premium comfort food: steaming hot, creamy, & stuffed full of green vegetables. The leftovers were even better for lunch the next day. Clearly, I win.
broccoli (stems & crowns)
broth (veg, bean, or chicken)
salt, pepper, paprika, bay leaf, thyme
optional dairy of your choice
apple cider vinegar or lemon juice
fresh herbs to garnish
a stick blender or other puréeing device
I was making soup for just me, so I used half my normal quantities.
Chop up half an onion and three cloves of garlic and sauté in olive oil in the bottom of a soup pot. The vegetable size doesn't matter too much, since you'll be pureéeing the soup later anyway. When the onion has turned translucent, dice and add half a rib of celery, a small carrot, and half a jalapeño pepper. Season with a little salt, pepper, paprika, a bay leaf, and thyme. I had fresh thyme, so I threw in a few sprigs. Stir everything up and let cook over medium while you tackle the broccoli.
To best use a broccoli stem, you need to remove its thick skin. You can chop it off with a knife, use a vegetable peeler, or follow my method of choice and peel it off with your fingers (& fingernails). An initial cut with a knife will help you get started here. It's a pain in the neck, but it also means you're left with the maximum amount of tender broccoli afterward.
So. Chop the stems off the stalks of half a bunch of broccoli. Peel the stems. Chop both the stems and the crowns into small pieces. Put all the broccoli into the soup pot, stir, and let sweat for about three minutes, or until bright green. Then add broth to cover the vegetables by a little less than an inch. Bring the pan to the boil, lower the heat, cover, and simmer for 5 to 10 minutes, or until the broccoli is completely tender.
Now it's time to purée. Take the pan off the heat, remove the bay leaf and thyme, and let the entire business cool slightly before you go at it with the stick blender. You may find that your soup is a little difficult to purée due to all the little flower buds in the broccoli florets, but don't worry too much about it--a slightly rough purée tastes just as good as a perfect bisque.
Now check out your soup's consistency. Is it too thick? Add some more broth. Is it too thin? Put it back on the heat and let it simmer down a bit. Keep in mind that any dairy you add will change the texture as well; you don't want to have to boil the soup down again afterward.
Taste, correcting seasonings as needed. If you want to make your soup into cream of broccoli, add a dairy device of your choice to the pan. Cream, milk, sour cream, yogurt, or cream cheese will all work, as will various vegan versions. I stirred a spoonful of cream cheese into my soup over low heat until it melted adequately. Finally, stir in a tiny bit of apple cider vinegar--maybe a teaspoon--or a squeeze of lemon juice.
You're done! Serve your soup with a garnish of parsley, cilantro, green onion, or anything else that floats your boat. A spoonful of plain yogurt is a great idea. I also like to add sriracha sauce or sambal oelek for a spicier soup.
Obviously, a soup like this is crying out for not only toast but a full grilled cheese sandwich on the side. I suggest gruyere with dijon mustard.