A Bowlful of Broccoli

And now, for Part Two of the Brassica vegetable love fest! (Yesterday, I shared my newfound love for cauliflower.) Today, broccoli is on the menu, served in a soup bowl.

Broccoli soup, without the cheese. (Kim O'Donnel)

In addition to broccoli and cauliflower, the Brassica family includes cruciferous siblings such as cabbage, Brussels sprouts and kale. If you want to keep the doc away, get cozy with these antioxidant champions. I'm predicting that just a few years down the road scientists will discover that the Brassica family is the golden key to age prevention. Just a hunch...

But I digress. Broccoli, I've discovered, makes a luscious bowl of soup. And while you're at it, hold the cheddar cheese; I promise you won't miss it. The recipe below is a delightful surprise, as I anticipated needing some kind of dairy to hold it together. A few potatoes do all the body work, and not a stitch of cream or milk is added.

Better still, this soup is work-week friendly. After a long day of writing, I couldn't get started until nearly 8 last night. Within an hour, soup was on. The result is a rich, full-flavored, warming potage that also happens to be low in fat and full of nutrients. I felt like I was really taking care of myself last night. What a concept!

A few tricks: As I've mentioned before about making purees, a hand-held stick blender is ideal, as it allows you to puree everything right in the soup pot. It's a relatively inexpensive kitchen tool with lots of utility. Additionally, if you've got a food mill laying around with nothing to do, now's the time to pull her out of the cabinets. A run through the mill eliminates more of those floret bits, giving the puree an even smoother texture.

Go on, give it a whirl! I've got my money on a broccoli soup love-a-athon. Got a different take on broccoli soup, or matters of the broccoli heart? Please share in the comments area below.

Broccoli Soup
Inspired by "In Great Taste" by Evelyn H. Lauder

Olive oil
1 leek, cleaned, root and dark green woody top removed, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
1 medium onion, peeled and chopped
2 medium potatoes, cleaned, peeled of blemishes and chopped
1 pound broccoli, florets and stems, chopped into 1-inch chunks
A few sprigs fresh thyme (optional)
Water or stock
½ teaspoon curry powder, or more to taste
Pinch cayenne
1 teaspoon salt
Black pepper to taste

Add enough olive oil to cover bottom surface of large soup pot and warm over medium heat. Add leek, garlic and onion, and stir, until onion is translucent.

Add potatoes and broccoli, then enough water or stock to barely cover vegetables. Add thyme, if using. Bring up to a boil, then reduce heat and cook at a simmer, until veggies are fork tender, about 20 minutes.

Remove thyme sprigs from pot and take pot off heat. With a handheld stick blender, puree soup directly in pot. Alternatively, puree in a blender or food processor, in batches.

Pass puree through a food mill, if you have one. Return puree to pot and season with salt, pepper and spices. Stir to combine. Simmer over low heat until ready to serve.
Garnish option: Toasted slabs of country bread rubbed with garlic, then sliced into croutons. A sprinkling of parmigiano is nice, too.

By Kim ODonnel |  November 2, 2006; 10:19 AM ET Fall Produce , Hot Pot , Soup , Vegetarian/Vegan
Previous: Tales of a Cauliflower Convert | Next: A Vote for Election Cake


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As a vegan, I've made a very similar dairy free soup before using half broccoli and half cauliflower. It was absolutely delicious!! Also, after blending the soup, add in some diced carrots or fresh/frozen peas or corn or a combination to give the soup some interesting color and texture. Within a few minutes, the veggies will be tender and the soup will be ready to be devoured. Chopped red, orange and yellow peppers and a sprinkle of chives make a wonderful garnish.

Posted by: SusanH | November 2, 2006 12:18 PM

This is a good, adaptable recipe similar to the one we use with curry instead of thyme. We use zucchini normally but have substituted broccoli, cauliflower, etc. Everybody loves it, even the vegetable hatas.

Posted by: Alice | November 2, 2006 12:47 PM

Kim, a little off topic: I want to add curry to a beef dish that roasts for three hours at 300. It's made with small beef cubes (NOT browned), onion, a little bread crumbs and broth or bouillion, covered. Comes out with a rich gravy and flavorful moist beef. But, dear Kim, should I add the curry in the beginning and let it bake with the beef and broth for three hours? SHould I add the curry at the end, just before serving? We'll have this poured over cauliflower and potatoes mashed together with a bit 'o nutmeg, and carrots. Any advice about curry timing?

Posted by: Sharon | November 2, 2006 1:35 PM

Sharon, I would add curry in the last 10 minutes or so of cooking. Let the beef do its magic in that low oven and the curry will be a nice flavor zipper upper at the end. Let me know how it goes.

Posted by: Kim O'Donnel | November 2, 2006 2:43 PM

This sounds wonderful, especially with the chilly weather today.

Best wishes for your brother.

Posted by: Melissa | November 2, 2006 2:47 PM

just an ode to broccoli! i love it! i eat it raw, steamed, plain, dressed. it's great. i eat it almost everyday, and i have to agree with kim - it's going to be the red wine of the future, in terms of helping people live longer, healthier lives. although, i like to double my chances, and sip red wine while i eat my stalks!

Posted by: lcp | November 2, 2006 2:49 PM

I can't wait to make this soup. Just last week I had a fabulous cauliflower and apple soup for lunch at a French restaurant in Baltimore. Have you ever seen a recipe for a similar soup? I have a good one for pumpkin soup with curry that I'd be happy to share with you.

Posted by: Nutmeg | November 2, 2006 2:51 PM

Kim, is there a specific hand-held stick blender you would recommend? My husband makes a lot of soups and cleaning the regular blender after using it to puree the soup is a big pain.

Posted by: Tracy | November 2, 2006 2:51 PM

I own a Braun immersion blender and like it very much. I can remove the blender part from the motor and put it in the top rack of the dishwasher. The Cuisinart version has gotten good reviews but I thought it was awfully heavy to hold. On cautionary note: Don't lift it out of the liquid while it's turned on. Instant Jackson Pollack kitchen walls and ceiling.

Posted by: Nutmeg | November 2, 2006 3:42 PM

I actually love broccoli roasted! Take a couple heads, hack into florets, slice up some of the thick (but not dried out) stems, toss with a little olive oil, salt, pepper, a pinch of cayanne, some chopped shallots, maybe a few chopped garlic cloves if you're feeling fancy. Roast on a baking sheet at 450 for about 15 minutes. Scoop into a bowl, squeeze on a lemon half or two, and you're good to go.

Posted by: anon | November 2, 2006 4:16 PM

I once had a cat who LOVED broccoli. I suspect that during his stray days he feasted out of the dumpster at the local chinese restaurant buffet (probably had lots of beef w/ broccoli). Anyway, I love just plain steamed fresh broccoli, and I'd have to lock him up to eat it in peace (after giving him his share, of course). I still think of him whenever I eat broccoli. Can't wait to try the soup, and thanks for making it automatically veggie friendly.

Posted by: Jessica | November 2, 2006 5:05 PM

Try adding parsnips to a simple broccoli/chicken stock puree. earthy and fresh... a little bit sweet... color blends well.

Posted by: jwk | November 2, 2006 11:04 PM

Kim, re. another Brassica, have you played with Tatsoi at all? I got some at the farmer's market last weekend and don't know what to do with it.

Posted by: Reine de Saba | November 3, 2006 7:47 AM

I have just discovered Romanesque Broccoli or "Fractal Broccoli" as math geeks like to call it. It is an amazing vegetable and I hear that it doesn't cause gas if you eat it raw! I have a picture of it on my blog: http://shempel.blogspot.com/2006/11/my-newest-obsession.html

Posted by: Sarah Hempel Irani | November 8, 2006 9:43 AM

Saturday, I made the Broccoli Soup.

It lacked zip!

Sunday, I remembered someone had given me Smoked Gouda, I cut some small pieces and added to the soup, reheating, and punched up the seasonings with LOTS of fresh herbs and Italian parsley. More salt & more pepper.

At last, it began to taste like something I wanted to eat.

P.S. Monday, I added shrimp. Now it's going somewhere!

Posted by: Ann Drew | November 10, 2006 4:36 PM

Ann, sorry soup didn't work for you. I only post recipes that I have tested and I had such a good experience with this one that I was all too happy to share. Maybe the idea of a veggie puree doesn't work for you...?

Posted by: Kim O'Donnel | November 10, 2006 5:28 PM

No, no problem with a 'veggie puree' at all -- (my typical diet consists of 85% vegetable/15% meat/fish)...and I do like vegetable purees. Really!

However, in light of your reply, I was further amused by this 'letter' printed in today's New York Times 'Metropolitan Diary' section:

Dear Diary:

I was standing at the corner of Astor Place and Fourth Avenue the other day, waiting to cross, when I overheard the tail end of a conversation between two women standing behind me.

Woman 1: "It's really tough, because I'm a Republican and I don't like Bush."

Woman 2: "That's O.K. I'm a vegetarian and I don't like vegetables."

--Mike Doyle

(Woman 2 is NOT me) !!!

Posted by: Ann Drew | November 13, 2006 11:17 AM

About adding curry late in the cooking:
Everything that I learned about ground Indian spices taught me to briefly heat the spices, typically in some oil or butter or ghee, before adding it to the recipe. It brings out the flavor. Have I been misinformed?


Posted by: etaoin shrdlu | November 13, 2006 4:21 PM

This is my new favorite recipe! I've made it twice so far. First time, I did it without leek or garlic, and with rosemary and mushroom broth and just a shot of cream. Second time, I did it with carrots and garlic and miso, and without leek or onion, and no cream. I don't have an immersion blender, and I'm too lazy to scoop a soup into a real blender, so I just mashed with a potato masher and got a nice semi-smooth texture.

Posted by: LS | November 14, 2006 5:37 PM

I made the soup, but only had a small amound of Romanesque broccoli and cauliflower. Plus, I didn't have a leek. Perhaps it was another soup all together? Anyhow, I love veggie puree soups and loved this one, though my hubby thought it lacked umph. "It means well" he said. I ate it for lunch for four days straight. Thanks!

Posted by: Sarah Irani | November 15, 2006 10:25 AM

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