Monday, February 18, 2013

broccoli cheese soup

Forgive the lovie dovie backdrop for the next few days- I did cook and photograph this recipie last week but didn't post them until now... but who cares, right? Valentine's Day comes but once a year (thank god) but man satisfying meals are eternal. I love broccoli cheese soup- cheese, vegetables, cheese, crackers and bread to dunk in it, and the cheese... seriously, it's all about the cheese.
Remember that Moroccan chicken I made a bit ago? I used the carcass, onions and carrots to make a stock. I usually do that, and I make a bunch so that I can freeze it and use it whenever I need. I don't add any salt or pepper other than what was on the bones and leftover meat itself, so I know that it's low sodium. This is a chicken stock based soup, not cream. You can make it all cream, but it'd be super rich. You can also substitute vegetable stock and make it vegetarian.
When your stock is finished, around 4 hours after you've started simmering, strain and cool. You'll only need about 2 cups of stock for this soup, so I'd pour out that amount and put it to the side and freeze the rest for later.
One of the reasons I love this recipe is because of it's economy value. Especially since I use frozen broccoli which was on sale for $1.00 for the bag. I don't know why people are so against using frozen vegetables- especially the steamer bags (which is what this broccoli is). I used 2 bags of steamer broccoli and sliced up about 1/2 cup of carrots along with a small onion and 2 cloves of garlic.
 Simmer these for about 15 minutes. While simmering, you can grate your cheese!
Cheese! Glorious cheese! I used no less than 3 cups of cheese- this go around I used 1 cup of sharp cheddar, 1 cup of mild cheddar, 1/2 cup of monterey and 1/2 cup of un-smoked gouda. Fresh grated is always better, it melts easier than the bagged variety.
This is the point where you'll add the half and half. Like earlier in the week when I described the need for using full fat dairy, the same rules apply here. You need to use full fat dairy and reduce the heat to low or the cheese will be on the verge of curdling when you add it to the soup. Before adding the cheese, you'll want to create a rue with flour and butter and add that to the soup to thicken it up. Reduce heat to low and add the cheese a handful at a time until completely melted. Add salt and pepper as well as garlic powder to taste- that's all the more seasonings I added, but it's up to you. Nutmeg would be yummy, as well as red pepper flake. This reheats amazingly well, and you'll have enough for leftovers!

Broccoli Cheese Soup
2 bags frozen broccoli steamer bags
1/2 cup carrots, slivered
2 cups chicken stock
3 cups grated cheese (1 variety or several)
1 small onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup half and half
4 Tbsp flour
4 Tbsp butter
Salt and Pepper
Garlic powder

In a large stock pot, bring chicken stock to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and add the broccoli and carrots, garlic and onion. Simmer for 15 minutes or until the vegetables are tender. While simmering, grate the cheese fresh and set aside. Melt the butter in a saucepan and add flour to make a rue. Add rue and room temperature half and half to the stock pot and simmer again for 5 minutes to thicken. Turn heat to low and slowly add handfuls of cheese, one at a time until completely melted. Season to taste. Serve immediately and enjoy!