broccoli-cheese soup

 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

broccoli-cheese soup recipe
Recipe type: soups
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
  • 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
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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).
  4. Serve with crunchy croutons and a sprinkle of cheese.
* Why baking soda? It helps hasten the softening of the broccoli, more amenable to soup pureeing. if you prefer not to use it, cook the broccoli for about an hour.


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