Monday, October 25, 2010

Creamy Dreamy Fall Soup

Last week I took the kids over to Maple Acres Farm, one of the few errands that does not provoke a string of complaints from my little girl. We had fun looking at the pumpkins, their amazing water garden with koi, and scoping out deals of second day produce. Ok, that last one was just me having fun.

After 20 minutes or so, I gathered up our stuff and stepped up to the register and was stunned by the huge stalks of broccoli. They were gorgeous and the price, $1.50 for 2 bunches, was unbelievable. Then, my neighborhood farm stand was offering cauliflower for $.50 a head, so I couldn't resist buying a few. Now my kitchen was filled with these fabulous fall vegetables, but after serving us steamed and/or roasted broc/cauliflower three nights in a row, I needed a change.

I remembered that I love broccoli cheddar soup. Even the industrially produced stuff you get in a cafeteria or a Fridays. Love it. So I scoured the internet for some recipe ideas and found quite a few to go on. Given that I had a plethora of seasonal veggies lying around, I adapted the basic principles for making a creamy soup. The result was stupendous. It was really easy, and, as usual, it made a ton of soup. (I am incapable of making a small amount of soup, I have learned.)

Here's the basic idea:
-Cut up and steam 1 large head of broccoli and 1 large head of cauliflower. If you have leftovers, perfect.
-In a large pot or dutch oven, fry up
  • one large chopped onion
  • 3-4 celery stalks finely chopped
  • 3-4 carrots finely chopped
-When the veggies are getting well cooked, add one large potato peeled and chopped in to smallish chunks. You could use a large russet, 5 small red potatoes or 2-3 Yukon golds. You could definitely add more potato, too, I just had so much other stuff, I didn't want my pot to overflow.
-Fry up for a few minutes. When the potatoes start to brown up, dump all of the contents of the pan out into a bowl.
-Now use the same pot to make a cream sauce. Turn the heat to medium/low. You could start by deglazing the pot with stock or white wine. But if you want to skip this step, just put 1/2 stick of butter in the pot and let it melt. Don't burn it. That is tragic. When the butter is bubbly, add a 1/4 cup of flour and whisk for a couple of minutes as the flour gets nice and golden.
-Slowly pour in 2 cups of whole milk. You could use some half and half, too, if you are feeling decadent. Whisk constantly as the mixture thickens.
-Add 3 cups of stock (chicken or veggie) and keep stirring.
-Put the all of the cooked veggies in the creamy liquid. If you need to, add more milk/stock to cover the veggies.
-Cook the soup for about 30 minutes or so. You want all of the vegetables to be soft.
-Use an immersion blender to puree the soup. If you don't have an immersion blender, I urge you to get one. They are inexpensive and invaluable for making soup, tomato sauce, smoothies, etc... Seriously, transferring soup to a blender is a pain. Just say no. And just say yes to immersion blenders.
-Add 2-4 cups of grated cheddar cheese, depending on how cheesy you like your soup. You could also add some swiss or Gruyere. I will admit that I added about 1/2 cup of Velveeta.
-Stir it up until the cheese melts. Add salt, pepper to taste and more milk/stock if your soup gets too thick.

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