I grew up in a family with a matriarchal structure, where those with two X chromosomes definitely outnumbered those who claimed a Y in the mix. So trust me, I’m quite familiar with every truism about how holiday foods and traditional Christmas treats go straight to the hips, grafting directly onto the thighs, etc. Even though we ate extremely healthfully most of the time, at Christmas there are definitely some treats that get made and gifted that aren’t particularly friendly to the health-conscious. So, to help even out every time you pop a coconut meltaway in your mouth, I’ve come up with a solution that’s filled with nutrients, simple to make, and not only that, but this recipe is extremely filling and deceptively rich without later coming after you with that heavy sort of, “oooof” feeling that one generally gets slammed with after eating genuinely rich foods.
Broccoli soup is one of my favorite ways to get this wonderful vegetable into my rotation and, despite popular thinking and cooking to the contrary, it doesn’t have to be doctored up with loads of cheese and heavy cream to achieve the creaminess that we’ve learned to expect and crave from broccoli soup. This is one recipe where an immersion blender is a Godsend to have, but if you don’t have one, just use your blender. When I buy broccoli florets by the giant bagful at, cough cough, a certain warehouse store, it seems like an impossibly huge amount of broccoli to go through. This soup is a fantastic way to use up a large amount of broccoli painlessly. Really. You’ll be slurping it up and sopping up that last remaining drops with a piece of bread in no time! This is the working definition of “quick” and “easy.”
Creamy Broccoli Soup
1 quart chicken broth*
4 cups broccoli florets (choose organic ones if you’re able to)
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2-3/4 cup whole milk (feel free to substitute the non-dairy milk of your choice or half ‘n’ half, for that matter)**
Salt and pepper to taste
Add the broccoli and the broth to a large, heavy-bottomed sauce pan or stock pot and bring to a simmer. Allow it to simmer for about ten minutes, or until the broccoli florets are tender. Remove from the heat and allow the mixture to cool for a few minutes. Using an immersion blender, puree the broccoli and the broth until the mixture is as smooth or as chunky as you like it. If you don’t have an immersion blender, pour the cooked broccoli and the broth into a blender and puree, taking extra care with the hot mixture (blending hot liquids can backfire quickly when the mixture kind of explodes on you when you take the top off, due to mounting pressure inside the thing, I think. So if you’re not much of a pyro, do as I do and divide these steps: steaming the broccoli in the broth one day, storing it in the fridge until cool — or overnight — and then quickly resuming the process from this point on the next day.) Return the puree to the pan and return to a low heat. Next, make a slurry with the cornstarch and milk, taking special care to mash the milk slowly into the cornstarch so it first forms a paste with no lumps. Once you’ve made a thick paste, slowly add the rest of the milk and continue to stir. You might have to add additional cornstarch in supplemental slurries, but here’s the trick: start small and don’t rush it. You can add more if the soup is too thin for your taste, but if you try to hurry this step and don’t make sure the slurry is completely smooth, it’s very likely you’ll end up with gummy, gelatinous lumps in your soup. And no one wants that. Pour the slurry into the broccoli puree, stirring constantly. Continue to stir as the mixture comes back up to temperature. It will thicken as it heats. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Creamy Broccoli Soup
*This is about four cups worth. Use a high quality broth here, like homemade stock or Trader Joe’s Free Range Chicken Broth. For vegetarians, a high quality vegetable broth will work beautifully.
** Again, you can add more if you like it creamier. Feel free to just go for it and use heavy cream if you’re planning to run a triathlon later in the day to work it off, but you can use any kind of milk you prefer here.