Broccoli & cheddar, the ultimate merger of vegetable and coagulated milk solids. Just like everyone else in the Midwest (and everyone else in the U.S.), I’ve probably had a variation of this soup in every single chain restaurant (i.e. TGIFridays, Max & Erma’s, Chilis, Big Boy, etc).
And the kicker is that I can’t think of a bad broccoli cheddar experience. There have been watery French onions, bland Chicken Noodles, funky Split Peas, and the horseshit they call Manhattan Clam Chowder, but Broccoli Cheddar is a rare failure. Sure, it has a cruciferous green vegetable at it’s core, but when you add in the calorie bomb of butter, heavy cream, cheese, salt, it becomes really hard to mess up.
Broccoli Cheddar is a feel good soup, and with the heinous election cycle we’ve had in the U.S. we could all use some comfort. I’m not here to talk politics, I’m here to talk about what goes in the soup pot.
Now, this isn’t healthy by any stretch of the imagination. A cursory web search of “broccoli cheddar soup” will yield a significant amount of results, but in general every recipe will start out with the sautéing of an onion and the creation of a roux. I tend to use the same method when making cream of [whatever vegetable] soup. Feel free to sub in cauliflower, or potato, or corn. Regardless of how you switch it up, I’d say serve these creamy soups in a small bowl with a salad to balance out the richness. Or if you’re in need of a particularly comforting meal, screw the leaves and get a big ass bread bowl with a chewy, crispy crust and go to town. A hefty glass of wine wouldn’t be amiss either.
Broccoli Cheddar Soup, yields…soup, like, 8 cups maybe?
1/2 onion, finely chopped
2 Tbs. butter
2 Tbs. All-Purpose Flour
2 cups Half-n-Half or Heavy Cream
4 cups chicken or vegetable stock**
1 medium to large head of broccoli, cut into florets
2 cups sharp cheddar cheese
salt and pepper, to taste
hot sauce, to serve (optional)
wine, to serve (not optional)
- Steam the broccoli florets until they turn bright green. Cool off in an ice/cold water bath to stop the cooking process. Drain and cut up in to smaller pieces. Set aside. (**Note: You could also reserve the broccoli steaming water and use it in place of the stock if you don’t have it on hand.)
- Add butter and onion to a large pot. Sauté until onions are translucent. Add a bit of salt to release some of the water in the onions. Add the flour and cook into a roux for about 3-5 minutes. Add the stock and cream. Stir to incorporate roux. Add chopped broccoli and heat through. Add the cheese. Taste and adjust salt and pepper to taste. (All these additions should take about 25-30 minutes).
- Serve either hot or warm with wine. Add a dash of your favorite hot sauce if you like it spicy.