My journey from plain old broccoli to Cream of Broccoli Soup was decades in the making. From my mid-20s until my mid-30s I ate a lot of steamed broccoli. I wasn’t necessarily a huge fan of broccoli, but it fit in well with my diet of the time, and it’s a relatively quick and easy way to add a vegetable to a meal. After about a decade of the same old same old, I was in a huge broccoli rut—such a rut that I let broccoli drop off my diet for awhile. But eventually I rather missed that old broccoli. I tried a couple of different things, like topping it with a sauce or putting it in a casserole, but I kept coming back to steamed. Then while out to lunch with a friend one day, I ordered cream of broccoli soup and wondered, “Why have I not made this?”Jump to Recipe
A War, Winging It, and What?
The first thing this recipe did is solve my problem with broccoli stems. The tender florets are magnificent; I don’t really care so much for those tree trunks beneath them. How wonderful that stems get puréed away in a soup. I keep the flavor and nutritional value, don’t waste food, and savor the natural beauty and texture of the florets in my soup without looking at those unappealing stems.
I knew how to make a cream sauce from making creamed tuna on toast, a dish my grandfather had brought back from WWII days in the Navy. So, I just winged it. After a few iterations, I landed on a recipe that I mostly repeat each time.
So far, the hardest part of sharing my recipes with you has been that many of them were never measured precisely. I might put spices in my hand and dump them in, or sprinkle seasoning and herbs on top till it looked right. I might cut up a whole onion and settle on half or less, etc., without worrying about writing anything down.
In fact, some of my recipes I’ve made on and off for 30 years without even thinking about it too much. But over the past three years I began trying to capture specifics on recipe ideas and experiments. If you were to look at my so-called recipes, you’d find something that resembled a shopping list with a couple of random notes that may or may not be related.
When the thought of doing a blog emerged, I rattled off ideas and looked through my recipe box and paper scraps and journals (Is that weird? Who writes recipes in their journal? Can I claim food therapy?). I soon realized I had no idea how many different things I make or how poorly they were documented.
Taking time to actually measure ingredients and document recipe steps required me to stop and think about my recipes. That, in turn, made me more mindful about the recipe ideas I generate and the way I prepare food. It’s so easy to get caught up in the “busyness” of life. We too often forget that if we approach even the most mundane task mindfully, it takes no more time but can be almost meditative.
About Cream of Broccoli Soup
Making this soup is more time consuming than steaming broccoli, but it’s worth trying. This basic soup puts broccoli front and center and leaves room to play with your food. I love preparing individual bowls or cups with different ingredients, often those laying around the refrigerator already. For my latest batch, I had one plain soup cup, put some of my green sauce and leftover cheese mix from some enchiladas for a soup & sandwich meal, and sprinkled cheddar and paprika in a cup or two. I plan to add curry and hot pepper to a bowl next time.
For a reduced sodium version, you can eliminate or replace the salt with a substitute and choose lower sodium options.
For a vegetarian version, just use vegetable stock. The version I made for photos used vegetable stock.
I normally use flour to create a roux for creamed soups, but I wanted to test a gluten-free variety for my blog, so I used xanthan gum … and it worked well. Using xanthan gum is a real time-saver, too.
Some cheeses melt and blend well into soups. You can add more or less cheese to your taste (or none) or you can top the soup with cheese. I often leave out the cheese and add it in to a portion or just top my bowl to allow for more variety.
“Soup,”she said gruffly. “Nothing in the world that can’t be made worse by facing it on an empty stomach. Even if the end’s coming, there’s always time to eat.”— Charlie Fletcher
Cream of Broccoli Soup
Veggies and broth
- 1 medium to large broccoli bunch
- 4 C vegetable or chicken broth use low sodium if you are watching sodium intake
- ¼ tsp salt skip for low sodium version
- ⅛ tsp white pepper black if fine if you don’t have white on hand
- ½ C diced onion
- 1 clove garlic minced
Cream and thickener
- ½ tsp xanthan gum and ½ C half & half milk or nondairy equivalent like plain soy OR white sauce: 1 ½ tsp butter, 1 ½ tsp flour and ¾ milk or nondairy equivalent
- Chop florets in to bite size pieces and set aside. Dice broccoli stems, onions and garlic.
- Add stock to a stock pot.
- Place all veggies except florets along with spices in the vegetable broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and cook until softened.
- Purée using hand blender or in a blender.
- If making soup with white sauce: over medium heat, melt butter and stir in flour until completely blended. Add milk, stirring constantly until mixture thickens and begins to bubble. It’s very important to stir constantly. Combine soup mix and white sauce.
- If making soup with xanthan gum and cream: add xanthan gum and cream to soup mixture. Stir well and break up any lumps that may form.
- Add broccoli florets and cook on medium until florets become tender. Adjust thickness to desired consistency by adding more flour or xanthan gum to thicken or more broth to thin.
- Hand blend on medium or coarse in a blender if you prefer the soup a little chunky, finer if want a very well blended texture.
- Top with any combination of cheese, sour cream, plain yogurt, dried peppers or hot sauce as desired.