Let’s pretend I haven’t been on a holiday hiatus. It’s really not fair to even call it that in the first place. It’s been more of a flu flop, if anything. Why does flu season have to come at the same time as Christmas? When doctor visits combine with dentist visits, nothing gets done! I needed every bit of energy to keep up with the holiday demands, but there was no energy to be found. Whether it was cooking, cleaning, entertaining, or crafting with the kids, I felt behind every step of the way. We had different groups of houseguests six out of eight weeks. On the bright side, I guess I got bronchitis after the last guest departed. I may have really run out of host juice, otherwise! Don’t get me wrong, I love entertaining and having houseguests. But the relentless nature of it lately sort of took away from the quality time I was able to spend with my kids. But Christmas came and went, and the kids had a great time nonetheless. I think every mom worries they’re not doing enough to make everything memorable and fun throughout the holiday season, as well as every other day. I know I’m not alone in this vicious cycle of exhaustion we call “motherhood.”
So here’s my newest recipe post to hopefully make up for my severe lack of posting since I created this blog. Broccoli cheese soup-need I say more? No, but I will. My daughter requests this soup for her birthday and several other days out of the year. It’s a family favorite. And it freezes well, too. It’s always nice to know which soups freeze well because everyone needs a dish they can pull out of the freezer on a night they don’t want to cook, but still want something homemade.
Broccoli cheese soup is a dish I never tire of. So comforting. So cheesy. But still somehow slightly healthy. I actually made it healthier by using evaporated milk which has less fat content than half and half (not by a lot, but it still counts). I also use pureed potatoes as a thickener instead of increasing the cheese, or even the butter/flour roux combination for that matter. I don’t even peel the potatoes because the skins have great nutrients, and my family doesn’t mind them (especially because they don’t notice them when they are pureed).
This soup is a hit during harvest season. However, a couple years ago, one of the guys developed pancreatitis. So I had to revamp a few recipes so that he could enjoy it with the others. I’d hate to torture him by sending out a salad on a cold long night in the field while the other guys get to enjoy something that practically warms your soul!
One word-moderation! It’s key to just about everything. Everyone should be allowed to splurge now and then and not feel bad about it. And this is a dish that won’t wreck your skinny jeans. It’s satisfying, but not overly heavy.
Enjoy this guilt-free comfort food!
BROCCOLI CHEESE SOUP
- 1 stick unsalted butter (1/2 cup)
- 1 onion, roughly chopped
- 5 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
- 2 teaspoons salt
- ½ teaspoons black pepper
- A couple dashes of nutmeg
- 1/3 cup all purpose flour
- 4 medium potatoes (golden, red, whatever you have on hand), chopped
- 4 cups chicken broth
- 3 (16 ounce) bags of frozen broccoli florets, steamed
- 3 (12 ounce) cans evaporated milk
- 2 large handfuls (about 2 ½ to 3 cups) of shredded Colby jack cheese (or cheddar, fontina-any good melting cheese you like)
In an 8-quart pot or larger, sauté the chopped onions, butter, salt, black pepper and nutmeg until onions are softened and translucent.
Meanwhile, steam the three 16-ounce bags of frozen broccoli (either by microwaving in the steamable bags they are often packaged in or by doing it the old fashioned way on the stove).
Add garlic and sauté on medium low heat so not to burn the garlic. Add flour and stir constantly for about five minutes to cook out the flour flavor. You’re making a roux or a thickener for your soup. Now add the chicken broth about ½ cup at a time to slowly incorporate it into your roux. If you add it too quickly, you’ll get clumps in your sauce.
Add chopped potatoes and bring to a boil and then simmer for about 20 minutes.
Once potatoes are fork tender, add about 1/3 of the steamed broccoli. Turn off heat and set the pot near an outlet. Then using an immersion blender, puree the potatoes and broccoli. Return the pot to the stove and simmer over low heat. Add remaining steamed broccoli, evaporated milk and cheese. Allow cheese to thoroughly melt and serve!
Note: If I’m making a double batch of this recipe, I use my 12-quart pot.