Wednesday, January 22, 2014

creamy broccoli soup

This soup was created to utilize a large “family sized” bag of frozen broccoli. You can, of course, make it with fresh broccoli, but it was designed to elevate inexpensive and convenient ingredients into something healthy and tasty. Most importantly, it is intended to be easy on the cook and having to clean two or three heads of broccoli before you begin cooking would just defeat that. 

I always have a small amount of distain for food writers who are snobbish about using frozen vegetables, where appropriate. I know the drill: the ecological foot print; the food miles; the unsustainable food machine. The problem is, I live in Michigan, and come January, if it weren’t for frozen vegetables and the industrial food chain, there wouldn’t be any vegetables at all. Yes, there are times when fresh is best. But, for a large volume of vegetables that are going to be boiled and then pureed, why would you invest more time and money on fresh when the difference in the final dish is minimal?  

It isn’t that I would never make this from fresh vegetables found at the market when they are abundant, but rather, that it isn’t always practical to do so. This recipe can go from frozen ingredients to table in under an hour. With some warm crusty bread, it is hearty enough for any weeknight dinner, and elegant enough to serve to guests. That is a big return for an investment of less than $2:00 per serving. 

This is not cream of broccoli soup, or any of its kin in which the flavor or the vegetable is buried in white sauce or cheese. This is a soup loaded with broccolis flavor, fiber, and vitamins, and just a touch of cream. I’m not idly bragging here: it’s delicious.

Click "read more" for recipe:
Creamy Broccoli Soup
Yield: 4L [4.25qt] 

Equipment Required:
7L [7.5qt] capacity Dutch oven or other heavy bottomed pot, 5.25L [5.5qt] capacity stock pot, wooden spoon, colander, electric blender, 250ml [8fl.oz] ladle, medium sized 20cm [8”] fine mesh strainer, 1L capacity measuring cup, 250ml capacity measuring cup, metric/imperial scale, large sized 5.20L [5.5qt] capacity bowl, small sized .5L [1pt.] capacity bowl, small 60ml [¼cup]capacity pinch bowl, flexible silicone spatula, manual pepper grinder 

15ml olive oil ~2 tbsp
400g onion, cut into 1cm [½”] dice ~4 cups
700g frozen broccoli ~ 8 cups
460g frozen broccoli ~ 4¼ cups
1L vegetable stock ~1 qt
500ml tap water ~2 cups
250ml heavy cream ~1 cup
36g coarse sea salt divided – 4g [½ tsp], 8g [1 tsp], 32g [2 tbsp], 4g [½ tsp]*
1.5g freshly grated pepper divided – 1g [½ tsp] + .5g [¼ tsp]*
4L tap water ~4.5 qt

*salt and pepper to adjust seasoning to taste 

Mise en place:
Dice and then weight onions into the small bowl and set aside. 

Weight 800g frozen broccoli into medium sized mixing bowl and set aside. Weigh the remaining quantity of broccoli as needed. 

Weigh 4g salt into pinch bowl and set aside. Weigh remaining quantities of salt as needed. 

Measure and pour tap water into the 5.25L stock pot and place over medium/high heat. 

Measure out vegetable stock and heavy cream into the 1L and 250ml measuring cups, and set aside.  

Heat 15ml olive oil in 7L Dutch oven over medium low heat. 

Sweat onions, along with 4g sea salt, over medium low heat, stirring occasionally, until golden and translucent. About 5 minutes. 

Add 800g broccoli to pan, along with vegetable stock, 500ml tap water, and 8g salt. Raise the heat to high and bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 15 – 20 minutes. 

When smaller 5.25L stock pot has come to a boil, add 32g sea salt and stir to dissolve. Blanch the remaining 460g broccoli for 4-5 minutes to set color, and cook to the tender crisp stage. Drain into colander and set aside to cool. 

Using a ladle, transfer the cooked broccoli and broth from the Dutch oven to the electric blender in batches, and puree until smooth. Pour the pureed soup temporarily into the mixing bowl used to weight out the broccoli. You will need to use the flexible spatula and strainer to get the remaining solids out of the Dutch oven and into the blender. 

Return puree to the Dutch oven, add the heavy cream, and stir with the ladle to combine.  

Over low heat, bring the pureed soup back to a gentle simmer. 

Chop the blanched broccoli into smallish bite sized pieces and add to the puree. 

Adjust seasoning to taste with the remaining salt and pepper. Serve. 

Make ahead:
Make this a day or even two ahead and store in refrigerator until need, or freeze for up to six months. Best if thawed gently in the refrigerator and then reheated on the stove top. I rarely recommend reheating soup in plastic containers using the microwave because of possible chemical transfer of the plasticizers, but you can safely defrost it enough to remove from the container, and then proceed to reheating on the stove top if you are in a hurry.

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