Monday, August 18, 2014

Lightened Broccoli Cheddar Soup

The last few days in Chicago have been beautiful and would be absolutely perfect weather for say... October. I don't know what happened to summer but I'm getting the impression we're entering sweater weather sooner than I'd like. Don't get me wrong, I love the fall! Nothing is better than pumpkin spice lattes, layered clothing, sunny warm days with brisk evenings, and cozy bowls of soup. But I was hoping to enjoy a few more weekends spent poolside! Nonetheless, I felt the urge to kick off these lower than normal temperatures with a batch of broccoli cheese soup. Of course, it's a rich soup and much of what makes it delicious can't be replaced but I did attempt to make it a tad bit healthier by using chicken broth instead of milk as the base and using full flavor cheeses to make sure it's cheesy as it should be!
Naturally, I had to pair something equally cheesy and decadent for dipping, so I made some turkey and cheese paninis but feel free to serve it in a bread bowl or top it with toasty croutons. Here's how I did it.
In a large pot melt 2 Tbl butter with 1 Tbl olive oil. Add in 1 diced medium onion ( about a cup and a half) and half a cup of diced carrots. Sauté over medium heat for a few minutes, stirring occasionally. Once the carrots and onions are looking tender add in 3 cloves of minced garlic. I like to add garlic at the last second so it doesn't burn or caramelize. 
Add in 1/3 cup flour and stir to combine. 
Cook that raw flour flavor out for about a minute until the flour coats the veggies well. Season with salt and pepper. 
Deglaze the pan with about 1/4 cup (but who's measuring?) of white wine. You could certainly omit this and just go straight to chicken broth... But it's so much better with it!
Now pour in your chicken broth, about 6 cups. I used 1 1/2 of these cartons. 
Now add in 1 Tbl lemon zest, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, and about 4 cups of chopped broccoli, stems and all.
Put a lid on it and simmer over medium heat for 15 minutes or until the broccoli is tender and the soup thickens. 
Meanwhile, get to work on preparing what makes this soup so good, the cheese! I used Cheddar, Gruyere, and Parmesan for a nice combo of cheesiness.
You could buy shredded cheese but I like to grate it myself. The pre-shredded stuff is normally tossed in a starch to keep it from sticking and I don't think it melts as well into the soup.
Once the broccoli is tender it's time to purée.
I happen to love this kitchen tool. Blenders work as well but can be messy and a bit more time consuming having to work in batches. These immersion or stick blenders are amazing and very affordable. Worth the investment! Anyway, purée the soup until pretty smooth. 
Like so. I have an additional 2 cups broccoli being steamed. Once tender, shock in ice cold water and drain. Add it into the soup reserving a few florettes for garnishing, if you so choose.
Since typically this soup is made with milk or cream, I added in a few splashes of heavy cream. This just rounds everything out and makes it extra creamy!
Add in your shredded cheeses, I used about 2 1/2 cups of cheddar, 1 cup of gruyere, and 1/4 cup Parmesan. 
Give the soup another few pulses with the stick blender leaving it as puréed or chunky as you like. The additional steamed broccoli adds a deep green color and bright broccoli flavor. Taste and adjust seasonings as you need. I needed a little more salt and a generous amount of freshly grated black pepper. 
Ladle it into your bowl and garnish with a little more cheese and some of the steamed broccoli (optional). 
It's rich, creamy, warming, and a little healthier than the classic. Best of all? You can freeze leftovers and save it for a rainy day ;) Enjoy!!

*After a few family members made this soup I received some feedback that the texture is not what was expected. Their expectations was that of Panera's broccoli cheddar soup and I want to clarify that this will not compare. Since typically broccoli cheddar soup is made of thickened milk and heavy cream it produces a richer, thicker soup. If you desire a thicker consistency add a few extra tablespoons of flour or add a small diced potato with your veggies in the first step. The potato will absorb the broth and naturally thicken the soup when pulsed. 

If you finish the soup and the consistency is just not thick enough you can add a few tbl of soup with equal parts of cornstarch in a small bowl, combine until smooth, and stir this into the soup. Once simmered you should find a thicker consistency. 

Hope this helps!


  1. I will definitely be making this, looks delicious! :)

  2. Thanks Andrea! I'm glad you've been trying some of my recipes :) Send me your pictures and I'll share them!