I spent the longest time on a quest for a perfect broccoli soup. Years, I think. Ya gotta kiss a lot of frogs as they say; I tried probably a dozen recipes until I found one that I absolutely loved, and this is it.
This recipe is a winner for several reasons: first, it makes great use of both the florets and the stems, with very little waste; and second, because the recipe doesn’t call for pulverizing the soup to oblivion, you can actually tell that there is broccoli in the soup!The florets and the stems are added separately so that the stems will cook until tender, and the florets will maintain their bright, beautiful shade of green. Along with this pretty soup, the DamFam will dine this evening on a big green salad and crispy popovers.
What’s that? You don’t know how to make popovers? You don’t have the fancy schmancy pan? Never fear, Frugal friends. You don’t need to make a trip to the mall for the special popover pan, you can make them in a muffin tin with similar results. Come along! It’s fun to learn something new! Your gang will be so impressed, you’ll be whipping out popovers all winter long.
First things first, though. Start with the soup. One thing about popovers is that they don’t like to be kept waiting. They’re best straight from the oven.
However, if you do have a few left over, they’re lovely for breakfast with a little bit of butter and jam (I still have raspberry freezer jam leftover from the summer!). Just re-crisp them in a 350 degree oven for 5-7 minutes. Your kids will think you’re a total goddess!
BROCCOLI SOUP WITH CHEDDAR
- 6 T. butter, room temperature; divided
- 2 pounds of fresh broccoli, stems and florets separated and chopped into bite-sized pieces
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 dried tarragon
- 6 c. chicken broth (Emeril’s stocks are on sale this week, 1/20/10 – 1/26/10)
- 1 c. half and half
- 3 T. flour
- 2 c. grated cheddar – about a half pound block; (Sendik’s Brand Mild Cheddar is on sale)
Melt 3 T. butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add broccoli stems and onions, saute for about 6 minutes. Add the garlic and the tarragon, saute 1 minute. Add the chicken broth, bring to a boil. Simmer uncovered until broccoli stems are tender, about 15 minutes. Let cool slightly.
Transfer contents of the soup to a blender, being careful not to fill it all the way (unless you enjoy scraping green soup off your ceiling). Place the lid on the blender, removing the center plastic piece so that the steam can vent. Using a clean kitchen towel, gently hold the lid in place and start the blender on LOW. Wait a few seconds and then up the speed to medium, and blend until smooth.
Transfer soup back to pot. In a small bowl, mix the remaining 3 T. butter and the flour with a fork to make a paste **. Whisk the paste into the soup. Add the broccoli florets. Simmer until the soup thickens and the florets are tender, about 5 minutes.
Preheat the broiler. Place 6 ovenproof bowls on a baking sheet. Divide soup among the bowls. Sprinkle a bit of shredded cheese over each. Broil until cheese melts and bubbles around the edges, about 4 minutes.
** Cooking 201: The fancy French term for this butter / flour mixture is ‘beurre manie’ (pronounced ‘burr mon yay’), which translates into “kneaded butter”. This is a simple technique that can be used to thicken soups, sauces, and gravies.
Makes 6, but is easily doubled
- 1 c. sifted all-purpose flour
- ½ t. salt
- 2 large eggs
- 1 c. milk
- 1 – 2 T. butter for the pan
Preheat the oven to 450.
Sift together the flour and the salt in a large bowl. Whisk together the eggs and the milk in a small bowl. Add the milk mixture to the flour mixture, stirring, and stir until the batter is smooth. (I like to transfer the batter to a big glass measuring cup at this point; it makes filling the pan much easier. I also like to allow the batter to rest for 15 minutes or so before proceeding).
Place the popover pan (or muffin tin) in the hot oven for five minutes. Remove pan from the oven and place a bit of butter (call it ¼ teaspoon, maybe a little more) in the bottom of each of six muffin cups. Place the pan back in the oven for two minutes, or until the butter is melted.
Working very quickly, pour the batter into the six buttered muffin cups, so that they’re ½ – 2/3 of the way full. Immediately place the pan back in the oven. Bake the popovers in the middle of the 450 degree oven for 20 minutes (** see note). Reduce the heat to 375, and continue to bake the popvers for 20 minutes longer, or until they are golden brown and crisp. Remove from the pan immediately and serve.
** COOKING 201: Absolutely no peeking while the popovers are doing their thing in the oven! Popovers are leavened by steam. When you open the oven door, heat escapes, and the popovers will collapse. I would hate for that to happen to you! So, behave yourself – no peeking. Thank you.
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