Broccoli Soup Recipe

Broccoli Soup

[Broccoli Soup]

I am not a soup maker. For a very long time, I was most intimidated by it. Something about the large pot and the veggies cooked to death turned me off. I also didn’t grow up in a soup family — we hardly ever had it, though it was delicious when we did — so I don’t think of it as a particularly comforting dish. And finally, I’d rather eat a thing than drink it: I’d rather eat an orange than drink its juice, and I’d rather eat my vegetables than have them as soup.

My first attempt at soup, about three years ago, wasn’t altogether convincing : I tried to make a potato-leek soup, but I used too many potatoes and they killed the taste of the leeks. Plus, I burned the back of my hand with piping hot soup. Not quite what you’d call a success, but valuable lessons were to be learned. Lesson #1, do not underestimate the Power of the Potato. Lesson #2, do not assume your food processor is watertight, unless you would like your kitchen cabinets repainted in pale green accents. Understandably, this episode put an end to my soup making ambitions.

But I underwent dental surgery on Thursday, I am unable to chew much for a few days, and I thought, what better occasion to exorcise my fear of soup? So yesterday night found me and my swollen cheek tackling broccoli soup, loosely following Dean Allen’s sarcastic recipe for Something Soup.

I heated up butter (he calls for “a really rather unreasonably large quantity of unsalted butter” but I can’t do that, my hand just will not obey), and sweated two diced onions in it. I then added a head of broccoli, cut up in small florets. Meanwhile, having no homemade chicken stock on hand and refusing to feel terrible about it, I prepared chicken stock with bouillon cubes and flavored it with thyme and bay leaves. Unsure of how much I would need, I just filled a large saucepan.

When the broccoli was sizzling, I added stock “until it seem[ed] like there [was] enough”, which to me meant covering the veggies. I brought this almost to a boil and simmered for roughly the twenty one and a half minutes he prescribes. I then transfered the solid broccoli pieces (see Lesson #2 above) into my food processor, discarding the thyme sprigs and bay leaves, pureed the whole thing, and returned it to the pot.

It all seemed rather too thin — apparently I had added too much stock — so I added a spoonful of cornstarch dissolved in a half glass of water, and let the soup thicken over low heat. When it had just about the right texture, having no heavy cream, I added what whipping cream I had left, about 1/4 cup.

We had it with sesame grissini crackers (which I had to soak in soup to soften), and although I still thought it was a bit too thin (definitely less stock next time), this was pretty good. Not knocks-your-socks-off good, but hits-the-spot good : definite broccoli taste, enough salt, creamy texture, small chunks. Perhaps more butter and homemade stock would make a difference?

  • I liked the story of your broccoli soup. There’s a really good recipe I have which is from the Covent Garden Soup company, which is a broccoli, lime and horseradish soup…basically, you sweat an onion and a small potato, add broccoli,about 300 gms, lime juice and grated zest of the same lime, a teaspoon or two of creamed horseradish and stock, then season with salt and pepper and cook about half an hour or so. Then blend (carefully!) with hand held blender and serve with sour cream or creme fraiche…delicieux!

  • Adele – The combination of broccoli, lime juice and horseradish sounds heavenly, and unusual, too! I’ll have to give it a try, thanks for the suggestion!

    Is the Covent Garden Soup Company a restaurant, a store, a cookbook?

  • I’ve never made broccoli soup, and normally I am a bit too lazy to faff around with liquidising things (though sometimes I get in the mood to liquidise *everything*, and then — watch out). My stand-by, lovely soup is just a chopped onion cooked in a bit of olive oil, to which I add stock (never homemade, rarely fresh store-bought, and almost always from cubes; I actually like the results better) and then a bag of fresh spinach. Roughly chop the spinach or don’t, it doesn’t really matter; once it’s all wilted, it’s in small bits anyway. At the end, I add a splash of cream to my bowl. Start to finish, it only takes about ten minutes and is very easy (and cheap!). It helps if you like spinach as much as I do, too.

  • Jackie – I don’t like spinach (OK, I *hate* spinach), but I will try this with other green-leafy-iron-rich-good-for-you veggies, it sounds good and easy!

  • Yes, I read your Swiss chard pie post after that, about how much you hate spinach and thought, “Doh!” Perhaps it would work with Swiss chard (which I don’t think I’ve ever eaten) or curly kale.

  • Jackie – Curly Kale, Curly Kale, Curly Kale, such a pretty tongue twister! Apparently it’s “chou frisé” (curly cabbage) in French, but I don’t think I’ve ever had it. Will look for it at the produce store!

  • I’ve never had curly kale, either: in America, they seem to use it a lot as a garnish/divider in the produce section of the supermarket. I was surprised to learn it was actually edible.

  • I think fresh chicken stock does make a difference – provided the stock has been reduced enough to bring its flavour forward without the help of salt and butterfat; thus when you _do_ add salt and butter/cream, you’ll have a nice strong platform to support the (more delicate) flavour of the vegetable.

    Also you don’t have that unshakeable powdery taste from the stock cube.

    One other thing: I find that with broccoli and especially green beans, the soup really sings if you saute a mashed clove of garlic with the onions.

  • Dean – Thanks for the advice! I really should make my own stock (I have a chicken carcass waiting in the freezer as we speak!). I think my main problem will be freezer space to store the stock, but I guess if you reduce it enough, you can fit it in small containers…

  • Greatly reduced stock (glace de viande) keeps well in the fridge in a jam jar. A spoonful goes a long way.

    For long-term storage, you can make ‘stock cubes’ in an ice cube tray, then keep these in a ziplock bag in the freezer. Much more convenient to add a cube or two to a sauce / soup / whatever than to thaw out an entire container.

  • Meg Cutts

    You might want to try throwing some Stilton and Cheddar in the soup next time – it’s very tasty. I also add a little fresh tarragon.

    Nice site – keep up the good work!

  • Meg – I’m sure you’re right, a little cheese would certainly work wonders in this soup!

  • JP

    I’m sitting here in Washington DC reading your blog when the word “broccoli soup” catches my eye. I think to myself – what a great find. It’s freezing here tonight and will continue to so for the rest of the week. Fresh homemade soup is exactly what i need. So I continued reading your broccoli soup recipe and stop dead when I see “rule #2 – do not count on your food processor to be watertight.” I couldn’t stop laughing … it reminded me of the first time I tried to make potato/leek soup … all that prep work … cleaning the leeks, cutting the potato just so only to have everything slush out the bottom of my food processor all over the counter and myself burning my hands as well as steaming my face … that was the last time I attempted to make soup … and then I found your recipe and wondered to myself – am I up to the task one more time. I’ll let you know how it turns out.

  • Theresa

    I love soup. But I am not particularly good at cream soups and I have an inordinate amount of fresh broccoli because the growing season has been unbelievable, and my husband prides himself on his ability to provide sustenanc for his family. Soup seems then next thing to do with all this broccoli. My best soup is one that is best blended, but can be eaten cold or heated after blending. Pumpkin soup: Roasted pumpkin, cooled, pheasant stock (chicken will do). In saucepan, saute onion and garlic coated with curry seasoning in olive oil. When these are translucent add some (not necessary to add all) & bring to boil. In blender puree the onion stock mixture with the roasted pumpkin, adding stock or cream till desired consistency, salt and crushed pepper to taste.

  • Sheila Sivanand

    I do a pureed cauliflower soup, but prefer brocolli in floret form. So my way is to saute six sliced garlic cloves and two cups of broccoli florets in a bit of sesame oil for a minute, pour in three to four cups of salted chicken stock, two fresh sliced red chillies, bring to the boil and simmer just for two or three minutes. The broccoli should still be firm and bright green, because it continues to cook in the hot liquid. It’s so simple, delicious and good for you.

  • Alisa

    Couple of years ago I got a “Kitchen-Aid” blender with little book of recipes inclosed. To tell you the truth – not a big fan of soups myself, I found the words “Broccoli cream” somehow promising. So, without any hesitation I have decided to give a try.
    Since I was so eager to see my new blender in action I didn’t even think twice to check whether I have all ingredients or not… Well it turned out that I was missing even cream (I was lucky to have broccoli:)so, I just sauteed onions and added broccoli crowns, poured hot boiling water and let it cook about 10 min. Since I had neither chicken stock nor other ingredients only gallon of homogenized milk for my toddler, so I just poured cooked broccoli with milk into the blender and added mustard. To my delight it was winning combination! Try it, you will love it. Just don’t overcook broccoli. best regards from Silicon Valley!

  • Anne

    I make a cheese broccoli soup with milk, 1/2 and 1/2, flour, butter, crowns, shredded sharp cheddar cheese and chicken bouillion cubes.

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