Meatless Monday: Broccoli Cheddar Soup

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“You won’t eat broccoli cheddar soup, will you?”

It’s a question I posed to The Wife on Sunday (SIDE NOTE: For those of you new to Al Dente, those related to me by marriage, blood and otherwise are referred to as The Wife, The Kid, The Sister, et al . They have been dragged into this blog by me, so they receive the anonymity that they deserve.) as I prepared the grocery list. I have never seen her eat broccoli cheddar soup before while out to a restaurant, so I thought it was worth the question.

“Yeah. I’ll eat it, as long as it isn’t made with Velveeta.”

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I scoffed. Me? Use Velveeta. Tsk tsk. Then I was reminded of an incident where a roommate of The Wife — the same one who made the vile lasagna — was responsible for casting a pall on an otherwise enjoyable wintertime soup. See, what people like the former roommate didn’t realize is that you can’t make it in advance, refrigerate it, then reheat it because the Velveeta separates — the oil goes one way and the cheese food product goes elsewhere.

I used real cheddar cheese, as prescribed in the CHOW recipe. I know I use Serious Eats’ recipes a lot here, but CHOW is a highly underrated resource for home cooks looking for a bigger challenge than boiling water and cooking chicken completely. They have a pretty deep arsenal of recipes perfect for weeknight dinner prep, this being one of them.

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WHAT WORKED: The little things. Peeling the outer layer off the broccoli is something I would have never considered. The addition of sour cream for thickness and zest. Plus, this is the perfect soup to use that immersion blender that you got for Christmas but haven’t put to the test. Just one note there, and it’s the same one I always offer with immersion blenders. For the love of God, keep it submerged so you don’t splatter your soup, and make a mess of your stovetop or burn yourself.

WHAT DIDN’T: Like I said, this was pretty easy. The only thing that went wrong was that the bag of onions on the back porch froze, so they are a little soft and difficult to dice right now. Otherwise, this was fine.

WHAT DID THE WIFE SAY: “No Velveeta. I like it.” Smart ass.

WILL IT MAKE ANOTHER APPEARANCE: Very likely, though maybe with more cheese next time.

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Broccoli Cheddar Soup
Adapted slightly from Amy Wisniewski’s original at CHOW

  • 1 1/2 lbs. broccoli (about 1 large head)
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1/2 medium yellow onion, medium dice
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 medium russet potato (about 8 oz.)
  • 3 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth or water
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese (about 5 oz.)
  • 2 tbsp. sour cream

Remove the florets from the broccoli head and cut them into 1-inch pieces. Place half in a large bowl and half in a small bowl; set aside. Cut off the bottom of the stalk and use a vegetable peeler to trim away the woody outer layer. Cut the stalk into 1-inch pieces and place them in the large bowl with the florets; set aside.

Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat until shimmering. Add the onion, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes.

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Meanwhile, peel the potato and cut it into 1-inch pieces. Add the potato, chicken broth, water, and reserved pieces of stalk and florets from the large bowl to the saucepan, season with salt and pepper, and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low and simmer until the potato pieces and broccoli stalks can be easily pierced with a knife, about 20 minutes. Meanwhile, cut the remaining florets into 1/4-inch pieces; set aside.

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Using a blender or immersion blender, purée the soup in batches until smooth, removing the small cap from the blender lid (the pour lid) and covering the space with a kitchen towel (this allows steam to escape and prevents the blender lid from popping off). Place the blended soup in a clean saucepan and return it to low heat. Add the reserved broccoli florets and simmer until they are tender and can easily be pierced with a knife, about 10 minutes. Stir in the cheese and sour cream. Taste and season with additional salt and pepper as needed.

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