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...)
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
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.