Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Brawny Broccoli Soup

I will never stop singing the praises of broccoli. When I was a little girl it was one of the vegetables we always kept in our family garden. Alaskan weather can be a little unforgiving at times, but broccoli always thrived and I had the luxury of fresh green broccoli florets every summer without knowing how lucky I was.

Can you tell that I miss having a veggie garden? I rent an apartment with several other tenants and I'm fairly certain if I did plant anything, it would be trampled, mowed down, dug up, urinated on, fed cheap beer, and anything else that seemed convenient to them. Trash cans are safe in my front yard. Anything else doesn't seem to do very well. 

Broccoli seems to do well in transport, though. I love cabbage family vegetables because they seem so eager to please. They'll take abuse, cold weather, long periods of alone time, and still come out tasting fantastic. Broccoli in particular has high levels of vitamin C and fiber. It has anti-carcinogenic compounds, but boiling will take those out of it. Steaming or stir frying won't hurt any of the nutrients, just in case you don't like your broccoli raw. Lutein and carotenoids abound in this little green marvel, as well as chemicals that boost cell repair and have been found to block cancer growth.

Unfortunately, some people don't like the color green on their plate at all. This recipe has become a staple for me, as I find it incredibly filling, very satisfying... and absurdedly cheap.

It's because this recipe has three ingredients- four if you want to be fancy, five if you want to be extravagant.  

Goat's cheese and cream if you like, fancypants.

The magic of this dish is in the texture. I can't take the credit for this. I learned this recipe from a Gordon Ramsay video. He does a fantastic job of explaining it and it's been a staple for us since the day I watched the video.

I hope it becomes a staple for you, too! The result is silky and simple and satisfying. 

Broccoli Soup

1 head of broccoli
Water (enough to cover the broccoli in the pan)
salt to taste (don't be afraid to be generous)
goat cheese (optional)
cream (optional)
walnuts (optional)

Cut the florets from the crown. The thick stalks won't be much use to you in this recipe. 

Ready to be a soup!
Chop the pieces small enough so they will cook quickly. I mentioned above that boiling will take nutrients from the broccoli. The trick to this soup is to not cook the broccoli for very long. If you cook the broccoli only a few minutes, you'll lose less than 10% of the anti carcinogens. So, while you're cutting your broccoli, get your pot of water to a strong boil. 

When your water is in a high boil, go ahead and dump in the broccoli. Salt the water and watch the clock.You do not want to lose those vitamins. Ramsay's video explains well how to tell when the florets are cooked- draw a knife through the broccoli and it should go through with only a little resistance. 

Once your knife slices through the broccoli, remove from the heat immediately. You need to drain the broccoli, but do not discard the water that you boiled it in. This is your broccoli stock, and it will make your soup taste better than adding a vegetable stock.

Placing a bowl under the strainer will do the job nicely.

While your broccoli is still hot, it is time to blend it! If you wait until it cools off, your texture will be off. 

In we go!
Now you put your broccoli broth to use! Add in your broccoli water until it's about halfway up the level of broccoli. 

In the above picture, I actually added too much water. The amount of stock will determine your texture. You can always add more stock if the result is too thick for you. But you can't take it away once you've blended it.

You'll have to blend for a couple minutes on fairly high speed to get a creamy texture. Taste and add more salt if needed. If it tastes bland, add some salt. It will enhance the flavor.

As a friend said, "the color of a shamrock shake"

Don't let your soup get cold! If you like at this point, put some goat cheese in the bottom of the bowl. 

The broccoli soup will melt the goat cheese and add some creaminess to the soup. If you'd rather, just drizzle some heavy cream or some full fat coconut milk over the top. You can add walnuts to the bottom, like in the Ramsay video for added fat. 

Simple soups like this are great for cold winter days, especially during a season when most of us are feeling a little pinched from the costs of the holidays. Enjoy! 

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