I've always loved broccoli—especially as a child. From ages 5 to the current day, my go-to snack has been tender and snappy microwaved florets with bright orange American cheese draped on top. I never understood how so many cartoons and shows claimed kids hated broccoli. I never needed to be tricked into enjoying it.
Broccoli belongs to the Brassicaceae family, including cauliflower, cabbage, mustards, kale, and Brussels sprouts. It is packed with fiber, vitamin C, vitamin K, iron, and potassium. It also has the added benefit of packing more protein than many other vegetables. When storing broccoli, be sure to keep it cold and dry. It's best not to keep it wrapped up or in a closed container with other delicate produce. Like bananas, broccoli releases a significant amount of ethylene gas, which kicks up the ripening and breakdown of nearby fruits and vegetables.
Creamy Broccoli Soup with Crunchy Cheese
This soup is a lifesaver on a lazy, cold day because all you really need for it is broccoli. I use the tender florets in the soup base, which makes sure that it blends into a velvety puree without the need for cream or additional fat. I then peel, dice, and saute the stalk to stir it into the blended soup, adding an extra bite to this surprisingly complex soup.
1 pound head of broccoli
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
1 ½ cups whole milk (or plant-based milk)
2 ounces sharp cheddar, coarsely grated
Using a sharp knife, shave off the dark green parts of the florets from the head of broccoli. Thinly slice the tender stems, leaving behind the tough, thick stalk. (This will be for the puree.)
Peel the stalk and cut into ¼ inch cubes. (Reserve for finishing the soup.)
Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat until it shimmers.
Add the shaved broccoli florets and cook, while stirring frequently, until the color darkens and florets soften, about 3 minutes. Season with a pinch of kosher salt. (Don't overcook, or you will lose the bright green color.)
Add the milk and bring to a simmer; taste a floret and make sure it is tender. Transfer the mixture to a blender and puree on high until completely smooth.
Rinse and dry the saucepan and heat the remaining olive oil over medium heat until it shimmers. Add the diced broccoli stems and cook, stirring frequently, until tender but still maintains a little bite, about 3 to 4 minutes.
Add the blended soup, bring to a simmer, and taste the soup for seasoning. Adjust with salt as needed.
Sprinkle the grated cheddar evenly across a 10-inch non-stick skillet and heat over medium heat until the cheese melts and starts to crisp into its own fat. Cook until the cheese is golden brown and smells nutty, about 5 minutes. Flip onto some paper towels and let cool to crisp. Break into large shards and garnish bowls of soup with it. Serve immediately.
Wanna make broccoli & cheese pasta!?!
By reducing the amount of liquid in the soup to 1/2 cup, you're left with a thick broccoli puree that is great as a side or the base for a mean, green mac and cheese:
Cook 2 cups dry pasta until al dente. Drain, save 1 cup pasta water, and return to the pot with the puree.
Add the pasta water, a splash at a time, stirring until the sauce is glossy and the pasta has cooked through.
Finish it up with 2 ounces grated parmesan cheese and stir to emulsify.
Are you on team broccoli? How do you like to cook it?
see ya next time!