Recipe for cream of broccoli and cheese soup
Last winter I hosted my first Soup Swap. Twelve friends each brought six quarts of one soup, and left with a quart of six different soups. (The math seems a bit complicated, but it works, no matter how many people come to the party.) My friend Kate contributed a delicious cream of broccoli soup from Winning at the Table, a collection of favorite recipes from the Junior League of Las Vegas. I've tweaked that recipe and added cheese, which always wants to jump into the soup pot with broccoli. This recipe includes stovetop and crockpot directions.
Cream of broccoli and cheese soup
3 Tbsp butter
1 medium onion, diced
1 stalk celery, diced
1 garlic clove, minced
1-1/2 to 2 lbs broccoli, stems peeled, florets trimmed and set aside
2 cups homemade or store-bought chicken stock
1/8 tsp dried oregano
1/8 tsp dried thyme
1 bay leaf
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup grated Cheddar cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
Fresh black pepper
Stovetop: In a 3- or 4-quart Dutch oven or heavy stockpot, melt the butter over low heat. Add the onions, celery and garlic, and cook until the onions are translucent, 3-4 minutes. Roughly chop the broccoli stems and add to the pot with the chicken stock, oregano, thyme and bay leaf. Cover and simmer over low heat for 1 hour. Using an immersion blender (or in a standing blender, in batches) puree the soup. Stir in the cream, salt and pepper, and cheeses; partially cover the pot, and cook over low heat for 30 minutes. Add the broccoli florets and cook until just tender, 4-5 minutes. Taste, and adjust seasonings with salt and pepper, if needed.
Slow cooker (crockpot): In a 4-quart slow cooker, add the butter, celery, garlic, broccoli stems, broth, oregano and thyme. Cook on HIGH for 2 hours. Using an immersion blender or standing blender, puree the soup and return it to the slow cooker. Add the cream and cheeses, and salt and pepper, and cook on HIGH for 45 minutes. Add the broccoli florets, and cook for 30 minutes. Taste, and adjust seasonings with salt and pepper, if needed.