more overcooked broccoli, less cheese is the secret ::::
In the hopes that I could persuade my sometimes picky Peach to eat broccoli at home, I though this soup would be the perfect vehicle to do so. Broccoli at school, she explains, always tastes good. A similar presentation, steamed with some butter and salt, has missed the mark. And I ruefully remember my college cafeteria steamed broccoli, a green-gray watery mush, that turned me off of broccoli for years.
I felt fortunate, then, that Peach even wanted to dabble into the world of broccoli, expecting her school to serve similar mush. I was pleasantly surprised that the cook’s rendition was more favorable than my cafeteria experience. Creamy soups are normally a hit with her, so I thought, why not combine the creaminess with the broccoli, for a new spin?
Epic fail. I couldn’t save myself on this one. Peach wanted nothing to do with the soup, even after a taste. Grub, however, had a fair amount.
In typical family fashion when a meal involves unwanted vegetables, I ate most of the soup, having no guilt to squirrel away the last bowl in the freezer for a future lunch. The beauty of this soup is that it is packed with flavor without the over gooey cheesiness that so often broccoli-cheese soups have (artificial cheese, at that, in many cases! Ugh!). This is truly a broccoli-centric soup, its flavor gained from the sweet flavor of the overcooked broccoli. Next time you note the sad, droopy broccoli in the cafeteria or spend a little too long checking Facebook when you’re steaming your broccoli, think of some soup the next day. While a fail with Peach, I still think of it a win. And the croutons? Double win. My recipe for extra crunchy croutons is paired with my no-knead bread recipe.
One year ago: crisp flatbread with za’atar
Two years ago: oat and apple cider yeast bread
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 pounds broccoli, florets roughly chopped into 1-inch pieces, stems trimmed, peeled, and cut into ¼-inch-thick slices
- 1 medium onion, roughly chopped (about 1 cup)
- 2 medium garlic cloves, minced
- 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
- a pinch of cayenne pepper
- kosher salt
- 3–4 cups water
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda*
- 2 cups vegetable broth
- 2 ounces frozen spinach
- 4 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (1 cup)
- 1½ ounces Parmesan cheese, grated fine (about ¾ cup), plus extra for serving
- black pepper
- Heat butter in large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. When foaming subsides, add broccoli, onion, garlic, mustard, cayenne, and 1 teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant, about 6 minutes. Add 1 cup water and baking soda.* Bring to simmer, cover, and cook until broccoli is very soft, about 20 minutes, stirring once during cooking.
- Add broth and 2 cups water and increase heat to medium-high. When mixture begins to simmer, stir in spinach and cook about 1 minute. Transfer half of soup to blender, add cheddar and Parmesan, and process until smooth, about 1 minute. Transfer soup to medium bowl and repeat with remaining soup. Return soup to Dutch oven, place over medium heat and bring to simmer.
- Adjust consistency of soup with up to 1 cup water (I didn't need to do this). Season to taste with salt and pepper (I added a little more of both).
- Serve with crunchy croutons and a sprinkle of cheese.