Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Ana's Weeknight Broccoli Soup


I only recently decided that I actually like broccoli.  

For years, I despised it, avoiding it on veggie trays, picking it out of soups, and steering clear of casseroles and pastas with those pesky green crowns.  My boyfriend even used to make jokes about it - when we would go out to eat and I would order something that might have broccoli, he would smile and say, "I'll be sure to tell them you want extra broccoli."  I would usually roll my eyes, smile back, and reply with, "Ha, ha.  I know you think you're very funny."  (Incidentally, he is usually quite hilarious.)  

My aversion to broccoli was pretty strange, considering I am really not a picky eater, and I do enjoy most vegetables.  Plus, I am a big girl.  I know vegetables are good for me so I don't need to be coerced into eating them.  But still... Broccoli was always a sticking point for me.

Broccoli cut up and prepped the day before to make this soup even easier.

But now I would say I like broccoli.

I honestly don't know if my tastebuds suddenly took a liking to this veggie, or if it was just the fickle winds of change, but there was a definite turning point.  One day I hated broccoli, the next day I liked it.   

I can't say I love it yet, but I like it.  Sort of like with any new relationship, I am still trying to decide exactly how I feel about it, but broccoli is growing on me day by day.  We haven't had our first fight yet, so we are still in the honeymoon phase, but so far things are looking good.  


So in the spirit of celebrating my new found feelings for broccoli, I thought I would share an easy, satisfying way to enjoy this lovely veggie.  This recipe is from my good friend and super-mom, Ana.  She makes this recipe on busy weeknights, and believe it or not, her 2 1/2-year old daughter actually requests this soup all the time!  She looooooves her broccoli soup.  

I got to try Ana's Weeknight Broccoli Soup right after her second child was born - I was over at her place one evening, and she was chatting, entertaining her daughter, making this soup, and cleaning up the kitchen while balancing her newborn on her hip.  Yes, I did say she was super-mom.  But basically, the fact that Ana can multi-task and make this soup at the same time is just a testament to how easy it is - and that is something that any busy guy or gal can appreciate.       



Basically this soup is so easy because you just simmer all the ingredients with some quality broth, blend it until smooth, and serve topped with some cheese or crusty bread.  I like to make it even easier by chopping up some of the ingredients the night before (see my broccoli cut and separated into crowns and stems in the photo above) and keeping them in the fridge so they are ready to go.  In addition to the broccoli, this soup gets some sweet depth of flavor from spring leeks and garlic, and it is thickened with potatoes rather than cream, which makes this soup really healthy too.

Leeks can be chopped the day before and kept in the fridge overnight.

I can get fresh bay leaves from my farmer's market and I love using them in soups and other dishes.

The dark buds from the broccoli crowns look beautiful in the smooth, jade-colored soup. 

I think I was smitten by Ana's soup not only because of the simple, satisfying taste, but also because I found it to be really beautiful - when you blend the soup until smooth, most of the buds from the broccoli crowns don't get completely pureed and so the soup itself is a lovely jade color that is studded with dark green flecks.  I was entranced.  

A small square of authentic Parmigiano Reggiano from Venissimo is the perfect topping.


I know I have said it a few times already, but at the heart of it, I really like this soup because it is simple, healthy, and perfect for families.  Even if I am only a family of one right now, it is good to know I have this recipe in my arsenal for the future, and that it will feed me leftovers in the present.  And if you are like me and only in 'like' with broccoli and not in 'love' with it, I can assure you this soup is not a broccoli assault - there is the same amount of potatoes as broccoli in this soup, so it has a medley of flavors to please even the pickiest of palates.  And an added bonus?  It is extremely inexpensive to make.  Basically this recipe is a win-win on all fronts, but is that really any surprise since it comes from a super savvy mom?        


One year ago: Gratin Dauphinois (wow, my photography skills have really come a long way...)
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Ana's Weeknight Broccoli Soup
The measurements for the ingredients below are exactly what I used, but don't sweat it if your head of broccoli or your diced potato amounts aren't precise.  Just throw it all in the pot and go about your busy day. 


4 cups broccoli florets and diced stems, (about 12-14 ounces, or 1 large head)
2 cups washed, peeled diced potatoes (about 12 ounces)
2 cups washed, roughly sliced leeks (about 1 leek, white part only)
1 celery rib, sliced
2 cloves garlic, smashed
1 bay leaf
4 cups chicken broth (OR 2 cans chicken broth, 14 ounces each + 1 cup water)
1-2 tsp kosher salt (or to taste)
pepper to taste


For serving (optional):
Grated parmesan cheese
Heavy cream
Crusty french bread


In a large stockpot, combine diced broccoli stems (reserve florets), and all remaining ingredients.  Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat to low, cover pot, and simmer for 15 minutes.  Add broccoli florets and stir in so they are covered, then continue to simmer for an additional 5-7 minutes or until florets are tender.  


Remove bay leaf, then use a regular or immersion blender to puree the soup.  (If you use a regular blender, you will need to puree it in batches.)  Serve immediately, and if you prefer, top it with grated parmesan cheese or a dash of heavy cream, or serve with crusty bread.  Refrigerated, will keep for several days. 

33 comments:

  1. Glad to see you are giving broccoli a chance :) I had steamed broccoli for dinner, topped with sunflower seeds and walnuts. I love how this soup uses potatoes instead of cream, this makes it extra healthy and nutritious!
    Just checked your Gratin Dauphinois photos, they still are better than mine! I am really excited because I ordered my first dSLR and signed up for photography classes. I hope a year from now I can look back and say the same as you :)

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  2. Wow this is soooo gorgeous. I love broccoli soup but have never made one myself. I think I definitely need to make this asap.

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  3. My husband doesn't like broccoli, but he will eat it roasted (try it!) and in broccoli cheese soup. And recently (my next post once I write it), as broccoli walnut pesto.

    I've never seen fresh bay leaves! I'll look for them now, I use bay leaves to cook all my beans.

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  4. Stacy: I think I got the bay leaves from Schaner Farms at the Little Italy farmers market? Not completely sure, but I think it was them. Also, thanks for the tip on roasting the broccoli, I will definitely try it!

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  5. I'm in the love camp when it comes to broccoli. I'll happily eat it any day. I love how super simple this soup is to make.

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  6. Whoa, this sounds incredible! Funny, I used to eat broccoli more often, and now I've kinda of forgotten it.

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  7. That soup is fabulous! A beautiful combination of flavors. The kind of dish I could eat on an daily basis.

    Cheers,

    Rosa

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  8. i like brocoli just with soup .. it looks great , i liked the way u type.. sweet:)

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  9. Broccoli soup, I love it. We make it often too, almost the same way you do and it's such a wonderful soft taste.

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  10. I heart this soup already and I haven't even tried it! :) I LOVE broccoli, and I love a simple home-cooked meal when life gets too busy. Delicious!

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  11. I love this recipe and I love that it's not loaded with cream and cheese, that they're optional. My daughter loves broccoli soup - I just might give it a try!

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  12. Big broccoli fan here and I am always on the lookout for new ways to enjoy it. I do a broccoli soup but without the celery. Looking forward to trying it with that addition.

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  13. This sounds great! I am a broccoli lover and I do love broccoli soups, this sounds great! I love that you don't have to add any cream.

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  14. Broccoli is a staple veggie in my kitchen, and this soup looks great. Question: I don't have a blender, but I do have a food processor. Would that work for this soup?

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  15. My attitude towards broccoli changed for the better when I tasted some homegrown versus store bought. Are they the same vegetable? They don't taste, or look, anything alike.

    I love the look of this soup for dinner -- and lunch the next day too! Now that is easy eatin'...Theresa

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  16. Elizabeth: Ok I asked around on Twitter because I honestly have never used my food processor for pureeing soup, and here is the consensus - it is not ideal but can work. The soup will not puree as smoothly (still big chunks of veggies left) and it can be quite messy. Many mentioned food processors easily leak and the soup can splatter out as well - both of which makes me nervous when dealing with hot soup and possibility of burns. So be careful! One person recommended that if you are going to do it, then cover the top with a doubled dishtowel, this should help with splatter through the top.

    The short? Try it, be careful, but immersion or regular blender is still best.

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  17. Thanks for checking on this for me. The rougher texture wouldn't be a problem for me, but the potential for a giant mess is not encouraging! My birthday is coming up, so maybe I'll ask for a blender. :-)

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  18. This is funny, because broccoli was always one of the few vegetables that I did like, even when I was a super picky eater of a child. This recipe looks unbelievably good, and glad to see that you use the stems too and not just the florets.

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  19. As a kid I only ever liked the trunk part of the broccoli trees, and only cooked. Maybe the whole thing is an aquired taste! The soup looks delicious!

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  20. i LOVE leeks and love broccoli too. I will try this. Although, I've found the magic cooking time for broccoli to be 8-10 mins before it enters the bitter zone...but i will try this as is!

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  21. My partner and I both love broccoli and this soup sounds just right! I love the addition of leeks too, this sounds so delicious!

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  22. My favorite part are those pieces of broccoli on top with the cheese. It looks so wonderfully comforting!

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  23. Oh gosh, this look scrumptious! I really should make more soup and broccoli so happens to be my favourite vegetable!

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  24. I love how simple and healthy this is, thank you!

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  25. Broccoli is the one vegetable I can get the BF to eat without complaint - and I do love it too, so its a staple in our house. We both love a broccoli soup too, so a weeknight version is welcome in our house. Thank you!

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  26. What a beautiful soup! The ingredients are perfect - I will absolutely be trying this one! (Glad to hear you're a broccoli convert!)

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  27. Delicious. I love broccoli soup. This recipe rocks!

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  28. My parents always made stir fried broccoli back in the day since it was such a cute vegetable..so I had to grow to like it as a child. I wasn't actually introduced to broccoli soup until 2 years ago in my work cafeteria, and WOW, what a great addition to my diet. :) While not an everyday indulgence, cheddar broccoli soup is soo good. I will have to try this recipe!

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  29. My daughter's name is Ana - I LOVE this already! :)
    But there's also leeks and garlic in there! Amazing!

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  30. this looks wonderful!!

    hey random question, are you by any chance going to F & L in Boulder with White on Rice in Aug? Lmk b/c I'm going! :)

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  31. I wanted to let you know that I made this for dinner couple of nights ago and, in one sitting, we finished it up to the last drop. It was delicious!! Thank you for sharing.

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  32. Kate: AWESOME! So glad to hear you enjoyed it! :D Coincidentally, I actually just thawed a batch that I had frozen and ate it for lunch yesterday, equally as good as it was when I first made it.

    Averie: Awe, I don't think I will be at F&L, as much as I would like to go, I dont think I can swing it. You will love it though, Todd and Diane are amazing!!!

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