Saturday, September 13, 2014

Broccoli Cheese Soup


For the last few weeks, my husband has more or less forbidden me from making soup. Not that we have that kind of relationship, where he goes around forbidding me from doing things ("NO MO' SOUP, WOMAN!!") but not too long ago we had quite the culinary misadventure with soup. On a hot July day, I had gotten it into my head that roasted cauliflower soup sounded great for dinner. I love that particular soup--creamy, spicy, nutty, and a great source of vegetables. Unfortunately, with the temperature outside being approximately that of a thousand burning suns, a steaming hot bowl of soup really did not hit the spot that night. Any time your napkin functions as a sweat towel instead of a crumb catcher, you know you have a problem--we both sat using our napkins to wipe our glistening foreheads throughout the meal. Hence the whole "forbidding" thing. Actually, it was more of a polite-but-firm request. Regardless, the point was clear (and mostly mutual): no more piping hot foods until the weather settles down to something below sweat lodge conditions.

Well, being the soup lover I am, I held out as long as I could, but dang it, the weather in Phoenix just takes soooooo loooooong to cool off--if, indeed, you can call our 70 degree winters "cooled off." I can't tell you how much time I spend fantasizing about living somewhere where in the next month or so leaves will begin changing, sweaters will begin replacing tank tops, and soup will become a reasonable dinner option. And that's basically what making this soup was for me: fantasy. Pretending that the day's forecast didn't contain triple digits. La-la-la I can't feel you, oppressive heat! I can't see you, relentless sun! I will eat my delicious steaming bowl of broccoli cheese soup and not need a cold shower afterwards!

And you know what? It kind of worked. I enjoyed this soup, as I always do, and managed to not feel feverishly hot while doing so. Maybe the weather really is changing, ever so slightly? Or maybe my husband turned down the A/C in anticipation of dinner?

A final note: this recipe comes (adapted) from the book The Cleaner Plate Club, which I highly recommend. It's part cookbook, part manifesto about improving children's diets in America today. If you want to get educated on how to cook healthily for your child(ren), check this one out!

Broccoli Cheese Soup
(Adapted from The Cleaner Plate Club)

Ingredients:

2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 c. chopped celery
1 c. chopped carrot
3/4 c. chopped onion
4 c. chicken broth (homemade if possible; vegetable broth may be substituted)
1 bay leaf
2 tsp. dried thyme
4.5 c. broccoli florets
1 Parmesan cheese rind
1 Tbsp. butter
2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
1 c. whole milk (2% could work in a pinch)
8 oz. grated Parmesan cheese (about 2 cups)
salt and pepper

Directions:

1. Heat the olive oil in a large stockpot over medium heat. Add the celery, carrot, and onion and cook about 10 minutes.

2. Add the chicken broth, bay leaf, and thyme. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer. Add the broccoli and cheese rind and simmer until the broccoli is tender, about 20 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, in a separate small saucepan, prepare the roux: melt the butter over medium-low heat, then whisk in the flour. Cook, whisking constantly for about 2 minutes. Add the milk. Bring to a simmer, then add the Parmesan and whisk to melt evenly.

4. Remove the bay leaf and cheese rind from the soup. Carefully puree about half the vegetables with an immersion blender (or blend half the soup in a regular blender, covering the lid with a kitchen towel to prevent a hot mess), bringing it to a texture you like.

5. Stir in the cheese sauce. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Serves 4 as a main dish.

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