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Classic Cream of Broccoli and Cheese Soup

Classic Cream of Broccoli and Cheese Soup

Nothing beats homemade soup!  True comfort food – a bowl of hot soup, especially on a cool fall or cold winter day, warms the tummy and the soul. This Cream of Broccoli and Cheese Soup fits that bill nicely.

I make lots of soups and, for my purposes, they have to be freezer-friendly.  I have a large collection of single-serving plastic containers that I use to freeze my soups. Each is labelled and dated. Most days, I take a soup to work – I have the different varieties of soup I make all stacked on shelves in my large upright freezer.  Each stack contains a selection of the different soups so I am not eating the same kind of soup two days in a row.  My alarm clock rings at 4:50am and I am on the highway early and at work by 7:00am so I need healthy, nourishing lunches I can pull together quickly on my way out the door.  Frozen soups are my lifesaver!  I can pull together my lunch bag contents in under a minute – usually a frozen soup, a frozen pre-wrapped muffin, yogurt, and a couple of pieces of fruit. By noon, the soup has thawed and heats quickly, in my Corningware soup mug, in the microwave for a tasty, filling, and nutritious lunch.

Cream of Broccoli Soup
Classic Cream of Broccoli and Cheese Soup

This Cream of Broccoli and Cheese Soup is a favorite.  With its velvety texture and soft green color, this soup is also packed full of flavourful and aromatic ingredients – leek, onion, garlic, celery, carrots, parsnip, potato, chicken broth, milk, cheese, and a carefully curated blend of spices for subtle seasoning.

This soup, like all good homemade soups, takes some time to make.  The leeks, onions, celery, garlic, carrots, parsnips, and sliced broccoli stems get sautéed in butter and olive oil until the ingredients are fragrant and the onions transparent.  Chicken broth is added along with the potatoes, broccoli florets, and seasonings. The veggies are cooked in the broth until they are soft.  This method ensures that no nutrients are lost and nothing is poured down the drain.  The recipe calls for 3 oz of leek. If leeks, which always seem to be sold in bundles of three, are not something you presently have other uses for (but my Potato Leek Soup, for example, would make good use of them….just sayin’) then, rather than buying a bundle of them for this recipe alone, substitute an additional half cup of chopped onion.  The leeks do add a lovely layer of flavour to the Cream of Broccoli and Cheese Soup but, because of their expense, a substitution amount of onion is provided here.  This half cup of onion would be in addition to the half cup called for in the recipe.

Broccoli is the primary ingredient in this soup and both florets and stems are used except for the big base stalk.  The florets cook quickly but their stems can take longer and they can be difficult to get puréed. The more cooked the veggies are, the easier it will be to purée them and get a lovely smooth-textured soup.  I have found that, if I use my small handheld mandolin to slice the broccoli stems all the way up to the florets, they cook better and faster.  I slice them very thin – 1/16” thick.

Prepping Broccoli for Soup
Prepping Broccoli for Soup

The cooked vegetables need to be cooled before being puréed. I don’t like pouring hot mixtures into my blender jug.  The mixture does not have to be completely cooled, but certainly cool enough to work with.  I often set the stock pot in a sink of ice-cold water to flash cool the cooked vegetables so that the soup can be completed faster.  Work in batches to purée the vegetables. Fill the jug of a blender with about a cup of the soup mixture to start then, when it is puréed, add another 1 – 1½ cups, never filling the jug more than half full. Purée the mixture until perfectly smooth.  Transfer the puréed mixture to a clean stock pot.  Continue with this process until all vegetables have been puréed.

This is a cream soup so, obviously, its texture is meant to be creamy.  For this reason, I do not recommend fat-reduced milk be used in this recipe for Cream of Broccoli and Cheese Soup.  Not only will it not have a velvety texture but, for freezing purposes, soups made with fat-reduced milk do not, in my opinion, have an appealing consistency nor appearance.  I recommend using whole milk or even a combination of whole milk and cream.  Cream soups are one food item in which I recommend “the really good stuff” be used.  There are several steps and some time involved in making cream soup so the time and effort is worth using high quality ingredients. I like this soup fairly thick; however, if someone likes their Cream of Broccoli and Cheese Soup thinner consistency, additional milk may be added to achieve the desired consistency.  The additional milk should be added by small amounts at a time as this soup is not meant to be watery and thin.

Cream of Broccoli Soup
Classic Cream of Broccoli and Cheese Soup

For this Cream of Broccoli and Cheese Soup, I thicken the milk separately and add it to the puréed vegetables at the end of the cooking process.  To do this, use a small saucepan to melt some butter. Add the flour for thickening along with the milk, cooking this mixture until it is thickened before adding it to the puréed vegetable mixture.  Once the soup mixture is heated (never boiling), add the grated cheese and heat the soup just until the cheese is melted. A medium-to-old cheddar cheese, coarsely shredded can be used for this soup.  However, the soup will be more flavorful if a blend of melting cheeses, such as cheddar, mozzarella, and provolone  is used.  Today, there are a number of pre-shredded cheeses packaged in blends and my favorite for this soup is a mix of cheeses.

Garnish the soup with sour cream, shredded cheese, and fresh herbs, if desired.

Cream of Broccoli Soup
Classic Cream of Broccoli and Cheese Soup

[Printable recipe follows at end of posting]

 Classic Cream of Broccoli and Cheese Soup

Ingredients:

1 medium-large head of broccoli (apx. 1½ lb)
3 tbsp butter
2 tbsp olive oil
3 oz leek (white and light green parts only), sliced thin (about 1/8“ thick) [Note: ½ cup chopped onion may be substituted if leeks are not available]
½ cup onion, chopped
¼ cup celery, chopped
6 – 7 garlic cloves, minced
½ cup carrots, sliced thin
1/3 cup parsnip, sliced thin, about 1/16“ thick
1 lb potatoes, peeled and diced into ¼“cubes
¾ tsp dry mustard
½ tsp dried summer savory
¼ tsp paprika
¼ tsp dried dill
1/8 tsp nutmeg
Pinch cayenne
4 cups chicken stock
2-3 bay leaves

3 tbsp butter
½ cup minus 1 tbsp all-purpose flour
2 cups whole milk
1 cup cheddar cheese (or a blend of melting cheeses of choice, coarsely shredded
¼ cup Parmesan cheese, finely grated
2-3 tbsp fresh parsley, minced
Freshly ground pepper and fine sea salt, to taste

Method:

Remove broccoli stems from large thick base stalk. Discard stalk and break the broccoli head apart, leaving the long floret stems intact.  Wash and drain broccoli well.  Using a handheld mandolin, slice the broccoli stems thin, about 1/16” thick, all the way up to the florets.  Break apart florets into smaller pieces so they will cook faster.

Melt butter in large stockpot over medium heat.  Add olive oil.  Reduce heat slightly and add the leek, onion, celery, minced garlic cloves, carrots, parsnip, and sliced broccoli stems. Sauté for 4-5 minutes, stirring briskly, until vegetables are fragrant and onion is transparent.

Add the potato, spices, chicken stock, and bay leaves. Cover and bring to a boil.  Cook over medium-low heat for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add the broccoli florets and cook for 15-20 minutes or until all vegetables are quite soft.  Cool. Remove and discard bay leaves. Purée vegetables in blender until mixture is very smooth. Work in batches, starting with one cup of the mixture, puréeing it until smooth, then adding another 1 to 1½ cups, never filling the blender jug more than half full at a time.  Transfer puréed mixture to clean stockpot.

In small saucepan, over medium heat, melt 3 tbsp butter.  Sprinkle with the flour and stir vigorously for several seconds.  Slowly whisk the milk into the butter-flour mixture, ensuring there are no lumps.  Stir mixture until it thickens then pour it into the pureed vegetables.  Heat soup over medium heat but do not boil.  Add the cheeses and stir until cheeses are melted.  If soup is thicker than desired, add additional milk, small amounts at a time, to thin it to desired consistency. Lastly, add the parsley. Soup freezes well. Garnish as desired.

Yield:  Apx. 10-12 servings (apx 1 cup per serving).

Notes:
To make this soup lactose-free, use lactose-free butter, milk, and cheese. To make the soup gluten-free, use same amount of gluten-free 1-to-1 flour to thicken the soup and ensure all other ingredients called for in the recipe are gluten free.

Classic Cream of Broccoli and Cheese Soup

Cozy up with a bowl of this delicious homemade Cream of Broccoli and Cheese Soup that is sure to satisfy the tastebuds.
Course Soup
Cuisine American
Servings 10
Author My Island Bistro Kitchen

Ingredients

  • 1 medium-large head of broccoli, apx. 1½ lb
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 oz leek, white and light green parts only, sliced thin (about 1/8“ thick) [Note: ½ cup chopped onion may be substituted if leeks are not available]
  • ½ cup onion, chopped
  • ¼ cup celery, chopped
  • 6 - 7 garlic cloves, minced
  • ½ cup carrots, sliced thin
  • 1/3 cup parsnip, sliced thin, about 1/16“ thick
  • 1 lb potatoes, peeled and diced into ¼“cubes
  • ¾ tsp dry mustard
  • ½ tsp dried summer savory
  • ¼ tsp paprika
  • ¼ tsp dried dill
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg
  • Pinch cayenne
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 2-3 bay leaves
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • ½ cup minus 1 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1 cup cheddar cheese (or a blend of melting cheeses of choice), coarsely shredded
  • ¼ cup Parmesan cheese, finely grated
  • 2-3 tbsp fresh parsley, minced
  • Freshly ground pepper and fine sea salt, to taste

Instructions

  1. Remove broccoli stems from large thick base stalk. Discard stalk and break the broccoli head apart, leaving the long floret stems intact. Wash and drain broccoli well. Using a handheld mandolin, slice the broccoli stems thin, about 1/16” thick, all the way up to the florets. Break apart florets into smaller pieces so they will cook faster.
  2. Melt butter in large stockpot over medium heat. Add olive oil. Reduce heat slightly and add the leek, onion, celery, minced garlic cloves, carrots, parsnip, and sliced broccoli stems. Sauté for 4-5 minutes, stirring briskly, until vegetables are fragrant and onion is transparent.
  3. Add the potato, spices, chicken stock, and bay leaves. Cover and bring to a boil. Cook over medium-low heat for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the broccoli florets and cook for 15-20 minutes or until all vegetables are quite soft. Cool. Remove and discard bay leaves. Purée vegetables in blender until mixture is very smooth. Work in batches, starting with one cup of the mixture, puréeing it until smooth, then adding another 1 to 1½ cups, never filling the blender jug more than half full at a time. Transfer puréed mixture to clean stockpot.
  4. In small saucepan, over medium heat, melt 3 tbsp butter. Sprinkle with the flour and stir vigorously for several seconds. Slowly whisk the milk into the butter-flour mixture, ensuring there are no lumps. Stir mixture until it thickens then pour it into the pureed vegetables. Heat soup over medium heat but do not boil. Add the cheeses and stir until cheeses are melted. If soup is thicker than desired, add additional milk, small amounts at a time, to thin it to desired consistency. Lastly, add the parsley. Soup freezes well. Garnish as desired.

Recipe Notes

To make this soup lactose-free, use lactose-free butter, milk, and cheese. To make the soup gluten-free, use same amount of gluten-free 1-to-1 flour to thicken the soup and ensure all other ingredients called for in the recipe are gluten free.

For other great soup, chowder, chili, and stock/broth recipes from My Island Bistro Kitchen, click on the links below:

SOUPS

Cream of Roasted Tomato Soup
Cream of Celery Soup
Ham Lentil Soup
Roasted Cream of Cauliflower Soup
Rich and Hearty Goulash Soup
PEI Potato Leek Soup
Cream of Winter Root Vegetable Soup
Cock-A-Leekie Soup
Roasted Cream of Asparagus Soup
Hamburger Soup
The Bistro’s Beefy Minestrone
Classic Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

CHOWDERS

PEI Mussel Chowder
Turkey Chowder

STOCKS/BROTH

Homemade Turkey Stock
Homemade Beef Stock

CHILI

My Island Bistro Kitchen’s Chili

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Broccoli Soup
Classic Cream of Broccoli and Cheese Soup

Cream of Winter Root Vegetable Soup Recipe

Cream of Winter Root Vegetable Soup
Cream of Winter Root Vegetable Soup

I make a lot of soups and freeze many of them in single servings so that they are quick and easy to place in the lunch bag on weekday mornings. They’re healthy and nutritious, not to mention tasty.  I like to have a variety of different soups on hand that includes those that are broth-based and hearty vegetable along with those that are cream-based or puréed.

The recipe I am sharing today is a new recipe creation that is a cream-based vegetable soup.  It’s the perfect soup for winter because it uses what we often refer to as winter, or root, vegetables. These are ones that are traditionally harvested late in the fall and they store and keep well over several months – think of potatoes, rutabaga, carrots, and parsnip, for example.

This is an easy soup to make and it blends a number of wonderful flavours that include both celery and leek. It’s very lightly spiced and is a silky smooth soup that I would put in the comfort food category. The great thing about this soup is that none of the nutrients from any of the vegetables is lost.  The vegetables are all cooked in the chicken broth and then the whole mixture is puréed so all of the goodness of the vegetables is maintained.

I find recipes that simply call for ingredients in quantities like a small parsnip or 2 medium-sized potatoes or 1 large carrot are not very helpful, particularly for less experienced cooks.  I have, therefore, tested out this recipe and carefully measured the weights of vegetables to be used for best success.  One of the most used (and most useful) tools in my kitchen is my digital scale and I use it all the time. I highly recommend that every cook invest in a good quality digital scale.

I miss my herb garden in winter. However, dried herbs work really well in this winter soup. Because, for presentation purposes, I don’t want any specks of herbs to appear in this soup, I make a small herb packet out of cheesecloth to contain the herbs while the soup cooks. The cheesecloth has a sufficiently open weave that the soup mixture is infused with the flavour of the herbs as it cooks. It’s very easy to remove and discard the herb packet before the soup is puréed.

Different vegetables take different cooking times so this soup starts with those that take the longest – rutabaga, carrots, parsnip, and celery.  Give them about 15 minutes headstart before adding the leek and let it cook for 10 minutes then add the potatoes which take the least amount of time to cook.

I make good use of my immersion blender for cream and purée soup making. However, you can certainly use either a blender or a food processor to purée the vegetables.  I generally allow the soup to cool for 30-40 minutes before using my immersion blender and, sometimes, if I am in a hurry, I put the soup pot in a sink full of cold water for a few minutes to speed up the cooling process.  I know some people do use their immersion blenders in really hot soup. I recommend you check your instruction manual for your immersion blender to see what it says about using the blender in hot liquids.

I recommend that whole milk be used in this recipe (or, alternatively, you could use a milk-cream blend for a richer soup). I have tested freezing this soup and find it freezes well for me; however, it is very important that at least whole (not skim, or partly skimmed) milk  be used if you intend to freeze any of the soup. Using a fat free or low fat milk will result in the soup breaking down when frozen and it just does not hold its structure when it is reheated. I know that some people frown on freezing puréed and cream soups but I have been freezing them with great success for many, many years.

When making the roux (the butter and flour) for the cream base, make sure you stir the roux while it is blending to prevent it from scorching. Add the milk slowly to the roux, whisking it constantly to prevent lumps from forming. It’s quite unappealing to have lumps in what is supposed to be a silky smooth cream soup.

Adding some shredded cheese to this soup makes a richer soup and certainly enhances the flavour. While a basic cheddar cheese could certainly be used, my preference is to use a shredded cheese blend such as mozzarella, provolone, and parmesan.

Cream of Winter Root Vegetable Soup
Cream of Winter Root Vegetable Soup
Cream of Winter Root Vegetable Soup

Ingredients:
3 cups chicken stock
1 bay leaf
½ tsp dried basil
¼ tsp. dried fennel
1/8 tsp dried marjoram
½ tsp dried parsley
1 clove garlic, minced
5 oz rutabaga, diced
5 oz carrots, sliced
2 oz parsnip, thinly sliced
2 oz celery, sliced
7½ oz leek, white and light green parts only, sliced into ¼“ slices
7 oz potato, diced
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp flour
1½ cups whole milk
Salt and pepper to taste
¾ cup shredded cheese blend (e.g., mozzarella, provolone, and parmesan)

Method:
Bring chicken stock to a boil in medium-sized soup pot.

Cut small 4”-5” square of finely woven cheese cloth. Make the herb packet by placing the bay leaf, basil, fennel, marjoram, and parsley in the center of the cheese cloth. Gather up ends of cheesecloth, tie tightly with kitchen string, and add the herb packet to the chicken stock along with the garlic, rutabaga, carrots, parsnip, and celery. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to medium low and cook vegetables for 15 minutes.

Add leek and cook 10 minutes then add potatoes and cook vegetables 15 minutes or until vegetables are soft.

Remove from heat and discard the herb packet. Purée mixture until smooth using an immersion blender or food processor.

Melt the butter in separate medium-sized soup pot over medium-low heat. Stir in the flour to make a roux, stirring constantly to blend the two ingredients and to prevent scorching. Gradually whisk in the milk until mixture is smooth. Increase heat to medium and continue to whisk milk mixture until it is thickened to desired consistency then add the puréed vegetable mixture. Stir mixture until heated then add the cheese, stirring until cheese is melted and blended into soup. Add salt and pepper, to taste.
Ladle into soup bowls and garnish with croutons, a sprinkle of parsley, and a drizzle of a good quality finishing olive oil, if desired. Enjoy!

Yield: Apx. 5-6 servings

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Cream of Winter Root Vegetable Soup

Yield: apx. 5-6

Ingredients

  • 3 cups chicken stock
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ½ tsp dried basil
  • ¼ tsp. dried fennel
  • 1/8 tsp dried marjoram
  • ½ tsp dried parsley
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 5 oz rutabaga, diced
  • 5 oz carrots, sliced
  • 2 oz parsnip, thinly sliced
  • 2 oz celery, sliced
  • 7½ oz leek, white and light green parts only, sliced into ¼“ slices
  • 7 oz potato, diced
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 1½ cups whole milk
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • ¾ cup shredded cheese blend (e.g., mozzarella, provolone, and parmesan)

Instructions

  1. Bring chicken stock to a boil in medium-sized soup pot.
  2. Cut small 4”-5” square of finely woven cheese cloth. Make the herb packet by placing the bay leaf, basil, fennel, marjoram, and parsley in the center of the cheese cloth. Gather up ends of cheesecloth, tie tightly with kitchen string, and add to the chicken stock along with the garlic, rutabaga, carrots, parsnip, and celery. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to medium low and cook vegetables for 15 minutes.
  3. Add leek and cook 10 minutes then add potatoes and cook vegetables 15 minutes or until vegetables are soft.Remove from heat and discard the herb packet.
  4. Purée mixture until smooth using an immersion blender or food processor.
  5. Melt the butter in separate medium-sized soup pot over medium-low heat. Stir in the flour to make a roux, stirring constantly to blend the two ingredients and to prevent scorching. Gradually whisk in the milk until mixture is smooth. Increase heat to medium and continue to whisk milk mixture until it is thickened to desired consistency then add the puréed vegetable mixture. Stir mixture until heated then add the cheese, stirring until cheese is melted and blended into soup.
  6. Add salt and pepper, to taste.
  7. Ladle into soup bowls and garnish with croutons, a sprinkle of parsley, and a drizzle of a good quality finishing olive oil, if desired. Enjoy!
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Cream of Winter Root Vegetable Soup
Cream of Winter Root Vegetable Soup

 

Cream of Winter Root Vegetable Soup

> Cream of Winter Root Vegetable Soup

 

Cream of Winter Root Vegetable Soup