I write here often about my journey from a picky eater to a passionate cook and adventurous eater. I talk all about my newfound love of all kinds of produce I formerly wouldn’t touch with a ten foot pole. However, two prominent produce ingredients still elude the good favor of my taste buds: cauliflower and broccoli.
I always hated them as a child and young adult, and to some extent, I still don’t care for them. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve tried them in the last few years. I really have. But I’m still not their biggest fan. One time I tried those “low-carb mashed potatoes” that were all the rage a few years ago; you know, a polite way of saying pureed cauliflower masquerading as everyone’s favorite side dish. Oh my gosh, it was horrible! It nearly made me gag. And one time I made a broccoli frittata, figuring I could handle the broccoli if it was buried in eggs. Well, I accidentally overcooked the frittata, giving me an excuse to throw it out without eating much of it. Come to think of it, maybe my subconscious overcooked the dish on purpose. Hmm…
Yet both veggies are so nutritious; my dentist even told me that broccoli is, hands down, the best food out there for your teeth. It seems like almost every nutrition article I come across extolls the health virtues of broccoli or cauliflower, and all of this leaves me with the nagging feeling that I am somehow selling myself short by not including broccoli and cauliflower in my diet.
Thus, I have resolved to get on good terms with the vegetables. And what better way to introduce yourself to a new vegetable than to hide it in cheese? Can I get an “Amen” from the chorus?? So I begin this little journey to the great state of Liking Broccoli and Cauliflower with the iconic broccoli cheese soup, something I refused to eat while growing up. So it really is new to me, believe it or not! In this particular recipe, the broccoli is completely pureed and of course there is plenty of cheddar. We both really enjoyed the soup and I would definitely make it again. I consider it a promising and successful first step on my new road of resolve.
Source: adapted from 20-40-60: Fresh Food Fast by Emeril Lagasse
Half a regular French baguette, or one small baguette, preferably day-old, cut into 1/2-inch dice
1/4 cup plus 2 tbs olive oil, divided
1 1/2 cups thinly sliced onions
1 tbs sliced garlic
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
5 cups chicken stock
4 cups broccoli florets, from 1 large head of broccoli
1/2 cup half-and-half
8 oz. shredded cheddar cheese
Make the croutons first. Preheat the oven to 325 F. Combine the bread cubes, 1/4 cup olive oil, salt and black pepper to taste in a large bowl. Toss to mix thoroughly. Transfer the croutons to a baking sheet. Bake until they are crispy, about 20 to 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool while the soup is cooking. If you have leftovers that you didn’t snack on, store in an airtight container at room temperature.
Heat 2 tbs olive oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. Once it’s hot, add the onions, garlic, 1 tsp salt, and cayenne. Saute until the onions are soft and translucent, 5 minutes.
Add the chicken stock and bring to a boil. Once the stock is boiling, add the broccoli and cook until fork-tender, about 5 minutes.
Shut off the heat and let the soup cool slightly. Using an immersion blender, puree the soup completely. Put the pot back over medium-low heat and add the half-and-half and the cheese. Stir until the cheese has melted. Taste for seasoning and adjust as needed.
Ladle the soup into bowls and garnish with croutons.