Broccoli Cheddar Soup
MUSIC PAIRING: MGMT, Oracular Spectacular
Did anyone else grow up eating those Green Giant frozen veggies in “butter sauce”? I think nowadays, Green Giant has gotten fancier with their steam bags and whatnot but when I was little, it was boxes of frozen veggies in mysterious cheese or butter sauce. Mom worked part time so on the nights she wasn’t home, she’d leave delicious stuff like mac and cheese with hot dogs for us. Unfortunately, she’d also make packets of things like lima beans or broccoli in a strange looking sauce that was actually kinda grey in color. I always used to wonder why she would torture us.
On the nights she wasn’t working, she cooked so we grew up in a house that was half homemade and half processed. I would get so excited for the nights she would cook because it was delicious and because I loved to help. I’m sure Mom just loved having me underfoot asking “why?!” and “what’s that?!” to basically everything she was doing. She was certainly patient with me though and tasked me with important jobs like stirring the pasta sauce and tossing the salad into bowls for everyone.
Veggies weren’t as much of a staple for us as salad. We definitely had salad with every meal and Mom’s dressing was to die for. To this day, I still think she makes the best vinaigrette ever. When we did have veggies though, I far preferred them on the nights Mom cooked because they didn’t come from the aforementioned box. They were fresh and still had crunch to them which even as a child, I could appreciate.
Unlike most kids, Mom didn’t even have to bribe me by covering my broccoli in cheese or anything like that. Nope, I loved it with a simple dusting of lemon pepper and a pat of butter so obviously, I was the world’s greatest daughter. Even if I didn’t “need” my broccoli swimming in cheese sauce, I do happen to think that any combination of broccoli and cheddar cheese is wonderful. Particularly in quiche or soup.
There are tons of recipes out there for broccoli cheddar soup but I wanted something where the veggies and cheese really stood out. Of course I could’ve made up my own recipe but I was having one of those nights where I really didn’t want to think. I found this soup to be exactly what I was looking for. It felt more indulgent than it is and the broccoli and cheddar flavors really shine. I basically cancelled out any health value with the giant baguette I took down but hey, at least I still ate something green. Not from a box.
Why MGMT? I’ve never listened to them outside of radio hits so I figured I’d give a random album a shot. Not my cup of tea. However, I’m sure hipsters all across the land are nodding their heads along to it as they sip on a lukewarm PBR. Hey, there’s something for everyone.
Recipe by: Smitten Kitchen
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 small onion, chopped small
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 cup half-and-half
- 4 cups low-sodium vegetable or chicken broth
- 1 bay leaf
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- 1 1/4 pounds broccoli or 4 cups broccoli florets and stems, chopped small
- 1 large carrot or 2 slim ones, chopped tiny (1 cup)
- 8 ounces coarsely grated sharp cheddar cheese, plus a pinch extra for garnish
- Melt the butter in a large, heavy pot over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook until tender, about 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in the flour and cook until golden, 3 to 4 minutes, then gradually whisk in the half-and-half until smooth. Add the chicken broth, bay leaf, salt and pepper and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened, about 10 minutes.
- Add the broccoli and carrot to the broth mixture and simmer until tender, about 15 to 20 minutes. Discard the bay leaf and adjust seasoning if needed, but err on the cautious side with the salt because the cheese will add a bit. Puree the soup to your desired texture with an immersion blender or in an upright one. Back on the stove, add cheese and whisk until melted, about 1 minute.
- Serve in bowls, garnished with a pinch of cheese. I ate my weight in baguette along with the soup and it was tremendous.