Thursday, November 20, 2014

Broccoli & Cheddar Soup

Sometimes, I like to share little tidbits about myself in these introductions. I think that maybe it makes me a little more relatable, hopefully more likable, and gives some personality to the "voice" that I type in on this bloggy thing. Today, I thought I would share with you my issues with anxiety. To be clear, I am not one of those people whose worlds come to a tire-squealing stop with humongous panic attacks. However, I do struggle with bouts of weird anxious oh-my-gosh-why-God-why-can't-I-just-be-human? moments.

For example, if, as I am cooking, a pot boils over and spills all over the stove, it is extremely difficult for me to just lower the heat and allow the pot to keep cooking away. I get super anxious because I, so badly, want to clean up the spill. I know that the stove is hot so I shouldn't, and sometimes I successfully convince myself that the spill can be cleaned later. Sometimes though, I can't fight it and I'll just move the pot over to a different burner, don some oven mitts, and scrub away at the spill. It's so strange to fight my natural compulsions. And horrifyingly enough, it seems to be getting worse with age. Many of you will not understand, but some of you will.

Why, oh, why am I talking about anxiety this morning? Well, when I was making this soup, I had to fight this (v. real) struggle. Chopping broccoli means that the little green balls (the leaves of the tree, if you will) go rolling all. over. the. place. It was an intense day of food blogging for me, as I wrestled with myself whilst photographing and chopping and simmering. Luckily, I managed to survive and ended up with a bowl of cheesy goodness. Cheese is the best medication.
Ingredients [serves 6 to 8]:
1 head broccoli, chopped
1 onion, diced
6 cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour
2 cups chicken stock (or vegetable stock for a vegetarian option)
4 cups whole milk
2 cups grated cheddar
salt & pepper, to taste

*You can certainly substitute almond milk and vegan cheese if you want a vegan version.
Start by getting all of your mise-en-place ready. Dice up some onions, mince up some garlic, and roughly chop some broccoli.
This. This is where I started to get all anxious.
Grab your grater and really go for it with the cheese. Now, I say "two cups" but that's really just a rough recommendation. If you start grating your cheese and find out that you've got quite a generous two cups, so generous that it's more like three cups, there's no need to fret. Chucking in a little extra cheese will not hurt. It will not hurt at all. I mean, it could hurt your waistline, but only if you scarf down the entire pot of soup in one sitting, which I am sure you won't.
Now it's time to get cooking for real! Grab a big soup pot or dutch oven and add in a big knob of butter. Turn the heat on medium and watch the butter melt. Add in the onions and garlic and saute until softened.
Now it's time to make a roux, which will help thicken the soup just a tad. Sprinkle in a little flour and stir it into the buttery onions and garlic. Once the flour is fully incorporated, cook it for three to five minutes, just to cook out the raw flour taste. Then, pour in about one cup of chicken stock and stir vigorously to get rid of any roux lumps. Once the sauce is smooth (minus the bits of onion and garlic), add in the rest of the stock and milk and lower the heat to a simmer.
Add in the broccoli (making sure the little green balls don't go rolling all over the place) and cook until the broccoli is just barely tender. It should take about ten minutes.
Stir in the cheese and let it melt and add salt and pepper to taste. I didn't add any salt (the cheese was plenty salty) but I did add a good dash of fresh cracked pepper.
Take about half of the soup and blend it up. I like a few good chunks of broccoli to be floating around my soup, but I don't like an overly chunky soup. If you like a smoother soup, blend more; if you like a chunkier soup, blend less. And of course, if you have an immersion blender, use that!
Pour the blended soup back into the pot, give it a stir, and then serve.
Give everyone a generous ladleful.
Oh, and if you're feeling adventurous, might I suggest sprinkling on a little extra cheese? You will not regret it.
This soup is glorious. It's rich and creamy without feeling overly heavy. It's cheesy and full of broccoli, which somehow makes me feel like it's healthy. And the best part is that it's so warm and cozy. It makes me feel I can survive the winter.
Okay, so you thought the post would end there. But it can't because I haven't shown you the best part! The bread bowls! Earlier this week (re: yesterday), I posted a recipe for bread bowl rolls. Yes, this soup is cheesy and creamy and really doesn't need any extra indulgences. I don't care! This is my blog and I'll shove these carbs into your face if I want to.
Grab your delicious bread bowl roll and slice off the top. Save it!
Scoop out the insides, set it on a sheet pan, and fill it up with soup.
And because I'm an evil witch, I decided to sprinkle a little bit of cheese on top of the soup and on top of the lid before chucking the whole thing in a 400F oven to warm through.
Is that not a gorgeous sight?
Yeah, it's a gorgeous sight.
Ooh, that's an even more gorgeous sight. Stretchy cheese? Yeah, that's my love language.
Here's the recipe page:

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