Friday, February 24, 2012

Broccoli and Cheese Soup: Pioneer Woman


I was needing some comfort last night ... and I had just recently watched an episode of the Pioneer Woman's cooking show on Food Network - and she made Broc Cheese Soup. YUM. One of my fav's. Conrad says his mom uses Velveeta and to be fair, I've never had it. Her soup, that is ... but it just seemed too much like queso to me and you know, processed food = bad. I wanted to use as fresh as I could. Plus there are hundreds of recipes for this- this is just one and it's the one I had and the ingredients were on hand. So I went with PW's recipe and YUM. I did add some Tabasco once I had my bowl poured, but that is just a preference for me. I am so partial to hot stuff!

In a large stock pot drop a 1/2 stick of butter and a half of a diced onion in --- and just make sure you go until the onions are translucent- about 3 minutes. When that is done, you need to slowly start adding flour to the mixture, until it's all balled up and combined. It's sort of like making the first part of a beshemel sauce - just cook out that flour taste - about a minute. Don't really BROWN the flour mixture, just get it to where it looks sort of like cookie dough.

At this point, add in 4 cups of WHOLE milk and 2 cups of half and half. Stir to combine. I used a whisk so I could really get my floury stuff all combined. At this point, just add in a tap of nutmeg. Seriously ... not even a 1/4 teaspoon. Just enough to where you can see it floating on the milky mixture. I have it on medium heat at this point- don't scald the milk! Add salt and pepper to taste. Remembering the cheese is salty!

Then I cut the heads of big bunches of broccoli and threw them in there whole - and then cut up small pieces of the stalk. Not a lot - but I don't like to waste, so I added in some of them. Put a lid on the pot, and turn down to low. Go 25-30 minutes.

While that was going on I grated up a block and a half of cheese. I used a full block of Sharp Cheddar and then some Medium Cheddar. When 30 minutes has passed, you pull the lid off, add your cheese and stir it in. It melts RIGHT away and you can see you have broccoli cheese soup! I really would NOT use the cheese in bags, all pre-shredded. It just doesn't melt the same.

You can leave a small handful of cheese out to just garnish if you want and add hot sauce if you want.

I left my broccoli heads whole. The Pioneer Woman uses an emersion blender to make it all smooth. I think that's fine too, but I wanted my soup to be really chunky and bulky last night. It's really just an illusion to trick Conrad. If he saw all that silky smooth soup he would be like WHAT? Is that supposed to fill me up??? But the big heads of broc floating around totally fooled him - and he ate it with no problem. Veggie haters CAN be fooled!