If you’re looking for a hearty soup, that’s also easy and nutritious, look no further: this broccoli cheddar soup is for you. I created this recipe because I wanted a thick, creamy soup for winter nights, but could only find recipes that were really high in fat and cholesterol. By thickening it with a potato, and using a few other vegetables for flavor and a little sweetness, I ended up with a broccoli cheddar soup that is actually nutritious, yet very simple and easily adaptable to what you have on hand. It also requires very little prep work or supervision, which is always a plus.
Here’s what you need to make a delicious batch of broccoli cheddar soup:
Ingredients (makes about 6 bowls):
- 1 head of broccoli
- 1 large or 2-3 medium potatoes
- 2-3 carrots
- 1 onion
- 1 red or yellow bell pepper
- 4 cups homemade chicken stock (or 2 cups low-sodium store-bought stock + 2 cups water)
- 2-3 cups low fat milk
- 6 oz. sharp cheddar cheese
- 1 – 1 1/2 Tbsp. powdered mustard
- cayenne pepper to taste
- bacon bits, 1/2 – 1 slice of bacon per bowl (optional)
- Put the chicken stock or stock + water into a large, lidded pot and bring to a boil.
- While the stock is coming to a boil, wash and peel the vegetables as appropriate. Discard ends, peels, seeds, etc., but save the broccoli stalk.
- Peel the the broccoli stalk:
- Chop all of the vegetables and the broccoli stalk into pieces, but don’t worry about making them uniform.
- The smaller the pieces, the faster they will cook.
- The broccoli stalk should be chopped into pieces less than 1/2″ thick in case some of the fibers do not fully puree.
- Take about 1/2 cup of broccoli florets and chop them into tiny pieces, returning any stems to the main pile of vegetables. Set the mini-florets aside:
- Add all of the vegetables (except for the mini-florets) to the pot with the chicken stock.
- Cover the pot and let it cook at a low boil for about 30 minutes. If your vegetable pieces are very big or very small, this cooking time will need to be adjusted.
- Shred the cheddar cheese and set aside:
- Make the bacon bits, if you’re including them.
- Cut the bacon into 1/4 inch strips the short-way, then fry them on medium-low until quite crispy, but not burned. This will also allow much of the fat to cook off. Remove the cooked bacon bits from the pan and allow to drain further on paper towels.
- Test the vegetables to see if everything is very tender.
- If yes, proceed to the next step, if no, then cook for 10 minutes more and re-test.
- Tip: the carrots may not seem tender when pierced with a fork, so take one out and try mashing it with a fork instead.
- Once everything is tender, you can puree the soup. If you have an immersion blender, then you don’t need to let the soup cool first. If you have a regular blender, then let the soup cool first before pureeing and puree slowly, in small batches.
- Tip: an ice-water bath will help to cool the soup faster, if you’re in a hurry, otherwise, just put it in the refrigerator for a while:
- Next, return the pureed soup to the pot, set the heat to ‘low’, and slowly stir-in the milk.
- You will need between 2-3 cups of milk, depending upon how watery the vegetables are and how starchy the potato is. Keep adding milk until the texture, or thickness, seems about right to you.
- Stir the soup occasionally until it is once again hot, then slowly add the shredded cheddar, stirring until it is completely combined.
- Add 1 to 1 1/2 Tablespoons of ground mustard seed and a dash of cayenne pepper. Taste and adjust spices as needed.
- You can also add salt and/or black pepper here, as you like, but you may find that the cheese and bacon contribute enough salt.
- Granulate garlic is another tasty addition.
- Add the broccoli florets and cook for five minutes more (enough for them to turn a bright green).
- Ladle into bowls and garnish with the bacon bits (optional):
- While the bacon bits are delicious, they will tend to dominate the flavor of the soup.
Tips and Tricks:
- This broccoli cheddar soup is very forgiving and you can vary the quantities of the vegetables a bit according to what you have in the house. The important part is to keep the ratio of potato, cheese, and liquids about the same.
- In a hurry? Try shredding all of the washed and peeled vegetables in a food processor before adding them to the boiling chicken broth. This should shorten cooking time to about 10 minutes.
- If you don’t have time to do this all at once, you can cook the vegetables in the broth the day before, or in the morning, and then keep the mixture in the refrigerator until you’re ready to puree and reheat.
- Check out this chart from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration if you really want to feel good about the nutrients in this soup. All the Vitamin C makes it a great addition to a wintertime meal.
- Try using an Instant Pot or a crock pot if you want to leave the vegetables unsupervised while they cook. You really can’t overcook them, so just toss them in with the broth and let them cook.
- This broccoli cheddar soup re-heats just fine, but the texture gets a little strange after freezing, so keep any unused portion refrigerated and use it within three days.
I hope you enjoy your broccoli cheddar soup, and thanks for reading! Feel free to leave a comment or ask a question, and don’t forget to follow Creatorvox on Facebook and Twitter for more tips and tricks between posts.