This twist on broccoli cheese soup is creamy, cheesy, and pretty darn nutritious. It has just a touch of butter and flour, only enough to allow the cheese to melt without separating, and it has milk instead of cream. The primary thickener is the cauliflower. Our gradually-becoming-less-picky kiddos like this soup, and it provides them lots of veggies and calcium ... winning!!!
For the cheddar in this recipe I highly recommend the Cabot extra sharp white cheddar available at Wal-Mart. I know, it's totally counterintuitive to think the best cheese comes from Wal-Mart, but this is our family favorite for taste, smooth melting, and reasonable price ... go figure.
One other recommendation, and it's about specialty ingredients. It's seldom necessary to invest in specialty ingredients. For instance, the cheapest black peppercorns will taste great as long as they're freshly ground and I love Lawry's seasoned salt more than any higher-priced version I've ever had. Once in a while, though, a specialty ingredient really makes the recipe, well, special. I think that's the case with this soup, where I used Penzeys toasted granulated onion (no, they don't pay me anything to tout their products; boy, don't I wish). You can of course substitute regular onion powder, but the results just won't be quite as toasty yummy good.
Broccoli Cauliflower Cheese Soup Recipe
3/4 pound broccoli crowns
1 head of cauliflower
cloves of half a head of garlic
2 cups stock (see note)
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
1 cup lowfat milk
1/2 pound grated extra sharp cheddar cheese
2 teaspoons toasted granulated onion
salt and freshly ground black pepper
splash of Sherry (optional)
Note: The best stock for this soup is a smoky one, such as a stock made from smoked chicken or ham bones. Use the best stock you have available.
Rinse and drain the broccoli and cauliflower. Trim away the very ends of the broccoli stems and any leaves. Cut the florets off the stems and roughly chop the florets. Set the chopped florets aside. Roughly chop the broccoli stems.
Cut the cauliflower head in quarters and cut away the stem/core and leaves. Rough chop the quartered cauliflower.
Peel the garlic cloves.
(Remember to throw all the veggie trimming "discards" in your freezer bag for making stock later.)
|Veggies prepped and ready to fulfill their soup destiny|
Fill a large heavy-bottomed stockpot with water, add a few big pinches of salt, and bring to a low boil. Add the broccoli stem chunks, the cauliflower chunks, and the garlic cloves. Boil gently until all veggies are very tender and can be easily pierced with a fork, about 20 minutes.
Once you have the broccoli stems, cauliflower, and garlic boiling in the salted water, bring the stock to a boil in a large saucepan, add broccoli florets, and gently boil while you complete the remaining steps.
When the broccoli stems, cauliflower, and garlic are tender, drain them through a strainer, reserving 1/2 cup of the cooking water. Put the heavy-bottomed stockpot back on the range; you're going to use it again. Process the broccoli stems, cauliflower, and garlic in a food processor or blender until smooth, working in batches if necessary, and adding a little of the cooking water if necessary.
In the heavy-bottomed stockpot, melt the butter over medium heat, add the flour, and whisk for a couple of minutes to cook the flour. Whisk in the milk and continue whisking until the mixture thickens like gravy. Add the cheese a handful at a time, stirring to incorporate.
When all the cheese has melted, pour in the stock with the broccoli florets, add the toasted granulated onion, salt and pepper to taste, and Sherry, if using. Simmer for a while before serving to allow all the flavors to blend.
Makes roughly (very roughly) 2 1/2 quarts of soup.