Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Light Broccoli Cheddar Soup

Never mind that it's almost 70 degrees today--last week it got a bit chilly and I was in the mood for soup.  I saw a delectable recipe for broccoli cheese soup on Pioneer Woman which really brought matters to a must-make-soup-crisis, but the amount of fat in the recipe pushed that past crisis mode, over the edge, down a cliff with an arrow sticking through your side and then you get attacked by zombies.  Sorry, too much Walking Dead there.

So I thought I would try looking for a lighter version.  Lo and behold I found a recipe adapted from, you guessed it, America's Test Kitchen.  I swear I use recipes from other sources, just not right now.  

This soup benefits from tons of broccoli--I weeded out recipes using only 6 or 8 oz of broccoli, which is not enough. I mean what am I supposed to do with the rest of the broccoli head? It also uses leeks instead of onions.  While I'm sure you could substitute onions, I think the leeks gave this soup a leaner bite that kept it from being too cloying.

However, I could totally be making that up.

The soup derives its "thickness" from evaporate fat free milk (genius) and of course some blending at the end.

Keep in mind that this isn't a thick, creamy soup.  It is definitely more of a soup as opposed to a hearty chowder-type consistency. Nevertheless, the flavor was spot-on and for the sake of continuing to excuse my lack of exercise, I would make this soup again.

Adapted from America's Test Kitchen
  • 1 bunch broccoli (about 1 ½ pounds), florets cut into 1-inch pieces, stems trimmed and sliced 1/4 inch thick
  • 1 pound leeks, white and light green parts only, halved lengthwise, sliced thin, and rinsed thoroughly (see leek-cleaning method here)
  • 2 teaspoons canola or other neutral oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 cup water
  • ¾ cup fat-free evaporated milk (in these parts, this product comes in 5 oz. cans, which is a bit less than 3/4 cup. Nobody threw the soup back in my face so I think the 5 oz. is okay.)
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 4 ounces extra-sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (about 1 cup) (okay I might have been a little more generous with the cheddar cheese--that or my 4 oz. were super 4 oz. because I ended up with about 2 cups)
  • Salt and pepper
Serves 4 to 6

Hack your broccoli to pieces.  Keep the florets and stems separate.

Prep your leeks (see link above to how to clean leeks).  

In a large pot, combine the broccoli STEMS (not the florets, not yet, oh just you wait), leeks, oil and 1/8 tsp salt and turn heat to medium or medium low.  Cover (I forgot to do this) and cook, stirring once or twice, until vegetables are starting to soften, about 6 to 8 minutes.  Uncover and stir in garlic.

Stir in broth and water, and raise heat to medium high to bring mixture to a simmer. 

Cover, reduce heat to medium-low to keep things at a simmer, until broccoli stems are softened, about 8 minutes.  Add the broccoli florets, cover, and cook until everything is tender, about 5 minutes.

Now for the blending.  You can either use an immersion blender or a regular blender.  If using an immersion blender, you'll kinda have to "trap" broccoli pieces with the immersion blender "cup", blend it, then pick it up and move it around to get all the pieces.  Don't lift the immersion blender too much or else you'll spatter.  It's like playing whack a mole.  

If you use a traditional blender, do it in two batches. I can't give you any more tips because the last time I blended a hot liquid it exploded all over the place, even after taking the precaution of taking out the center thingamajig from the lid.  If you use a blender, transfer the mixture back to the pot after you're done.

Whisk in the evaporated milk and mustard, and warm over low heat.  

Turn off the heat and whisk in the cheese.  

Season to taste with salt and pepper, and sprinkle a little extra cheese over the top for serving.  Why not.

Makes a nice, light meal with a couple of toasted bread slices.  Ta-da!


  1. It was quite refreshing! Good leek flavor.

  2. Why would a recipe for broccoli soup only call for less than a head of broccoli?? I'm glad you remedied that and found one that used plenty. It sounds amazing and once Santa brings me an immersion blender, I'll be making this for all my friends.

    Unless you come over and cook for me? Save me the trouble? ;)

    I'll take that as a yes.

  3. I love the Walking Dead reference, and now feel the need for an immersion blender.

  4. Geez, the Pioneer Woman's soup left my arteries choking just from reading it! The recipe you used looks like it's actual broccoli soup, instead of "butter cheese & cream with some floating green bits". Broccoli is Dave's favorite vegetable - I'll have to give this a try!

  5. mm looks yummy. Immersion blenders are so cool. I need one.

  6. I saw that recipe on Pioneer Woman and thought wow that sounds so delicious and so terrible for me all at the same time! But the one you made looks awesome. And still cheesy. Yum.

  7. Yummy and an excellent way to hide veggies from veggie haters. Though the name broccoli cheddae soup would probably give it away.

  8. that evaporated milk trick is ingenious. and whack-a-mole was my favorite game.

  9. Looks delicious! Id definitely burn myself blending hot soup, im sure!

  10. jessica: i'll come over any time!

    lauren: i was hoping you'd know the walking dead scene i referenced!

    megan & kelsey: i know, the PW version looked so delicious but seemed a wee bit over the top. hope you try this!

    san jose love: the immersion blender was pretty cool and i liked not having to transfer stuff to a blender

    lobster: you could call it green soup. or would that be too vegetable-y of a name.

    sashacleo: i know, i was very impressed with the evaporated milk idea.

    penga: the exploding hot liquid incident was not fun.

    ourwiredlives: hope you get to try this!

  11. just went back to look at the pioneer woman recipe. holy one-entire-stick-of-butter, batman!

  12. mmm... this looks really good. I need to go pick up some broccoli stat