Broccoli-Cheese Soup

Broccoli Cheddar Soup

Some weeks I feel like I am on a treadmill, and I can’t get off.  I am exhausted, but I have to keep going – otherwise it could get dangerous.  It is weeks like this that I just focus on getting off the treadmill safely.  Making sure I do the things I absolutely must do, while putting the other things aside.  Because seriously – what else can you really do when you are on a treadmill, except walk.  Trying to balance something on your head at the same time is just plain crazy.

Last week I got some very sad news.  A former boss of mine was in a horrible tragic accident.  I won’t go into details, but basically his life was cut short when he made a terrible mistake.  He was a father, a grandfather, and a leader.  People looked up to him.  He was a very good listener, and gave lots of good advice.  I worked for him when I was pregnant with my first child – and I remember the day that I told him I was pregnant.  He was so happy for me, he had this sparkle in his eye – he was looking forward to grandchildren.  A few years later, he got that gift.  If only he had lived long enough to retire, and spend more time with them.

When I came back from maternity leave, he was the first person I told about my decision to cut back.  I couldn’t work the hours I had worked before my daughter was born.  I wanted to work part-time, and I was willing to move to another team to find the balance I needed.  It was shortly after we had that conversation that I found a group that was willing to take me part-time.  I knew he felt a little like I had let him down.  I could see it in his face.  I had a team of people who counted on me, but I needed to focus on my family.  We parted ways, but things were never the same.  The last conversation I had with him was a few months ago.  He wanted me to talk to someone on his team that had kids, and needed more balance in their life.  He said he thought that I could really help this woman.  What was interesting to me is that he never stopped thinking of me in that way – I have been working full-time again for years now.  I certainly don’t feel that I am the poster child for balance anymore, but it works for me.  I am extremely productive at work, and at home – and with technology these days, it is amazing how much work I can fit in.  I never got the chance to tell him that all I really needed was a break.  I had to slow down for a few years – but I came back, with more energy than ever.

I leave you with a recipe that doesn’t take a ton of energy to put together.  This recipe from Cooking Light is just about as simple as it gets.  With an immersion blender, you just bought yourself even less time and energy.  When you are on that treadmill, you need a good healthy home cooked meal – and it doesn’t get much better than this.  Be careful out there…one wrong move is all it takes – particularly when you are balancing on that treadmill.  The goal is to have a nice steaming bowl of healthy soup when you get off, and someone to share it with.

Ingredients

  • 3 cups unsalted chicken stock
  • 1 3/4 cups broccoli florets, coarsely chopped (about 8 ounces)
  • 1 cup diced yellow onion
  • 1/2 cup chopped carrot
  • 3/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2  garlic cloves, minced
  • 3/4 cup half-and-half
  • 4 ounces shredded reduced-fat extra-sharp cheddar cheese, divided
  • 1/4 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves

Preparation

Combine first 7 ingredients in a large saucepan; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes or until broccoli is tender. Pour soup into a blender. Remove center piece of blender lid (to allow steam to escape); secure lid on blender. Place a clean towel over opening in blender lid (to avoid splatters). Blend until smooth. Return soup to pan. Stir in half-and-half and 2 ounces cheese. Top evenly with remaining cheese and parsley.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:  Broccoli-Cheese Soup

Broccoli-Cheese Soup

I love experimenting with ways to get my kids to eat their vegetables.  Pizza is definitely a good way – but I have found that soup and smoothies is another one.  One day we happen to be at Cost-Co when they were demoing the Vitamix blender.  The man behind the counter was just about to make a “Princess and the Frog” smoothie.  Of course the kids were intrigued.  Anything that has the word princess in it gets their attention.  So we decided to watch him – he threw in a banana, a whole orange (with just the orange skin removed), some grape juice, pineapple, and a ton of spinach.  Yes, the smoothie was green.  But, they both tried it and LOVED it.  I seriously almost walked out that way with the Vitamix, but decided my Waring blender would work just fine – I just have to peel the orange though.

Then there is soup – both my kids love carrot soup, and even pumpkin soup – as long as there are no distinguishable vegetables in sight.  So, I saw this recipe in Cook’s Illustrated, and I decided I must give it a try.  The soup was delicious – both of my kids ate it – and although my younger one was not super crazy about it, she did manage to eat most of her bowl.  What I liked most about the soup was how creamy it was without using any milk or cream.  The cheese gave it a great flavor, and as the recipe mentioned, by cooking the broccoli to death, it really takes most of the bitterness out. I felt good that night when they went to sleep that they had gotten a well-balanced meal…without any grape juice.

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 pounds broccoli, florets roughly chopped into 1-inch pieces, stems trimmed, peeled, and cut into 1/4-inch-thick-slices
  • 1 medium onion, roughly chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 2 medium garlic cloves, minced or pressed through a garlic press
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dry mustard powder
  • pinch or cayenne pepper
  • table salt
  • 3-4 cups water
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 ounces baby spinach
  • 3 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (3/4 cup)
  • 1 1/2 ounces Parmesan cheese, grated fine, plus extra for serving

Preparation

Heat butter in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat.  When foaming subsides, add broccoli, onion, garlic, dry mustard, cayenne, and 1 teaspoon salt.  Cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant, about 6 minutes.  Add 1 cup of water and baking soad.  Bring to a simmer, cover, and cook until broccoli is very soft, about 20 minutes, stirring once during cooking.

Add broth and 2 cups of water and increase heat to medium-high.  When mixture begins to summer, stir in spinach and cook until wilted, about 1 minute.  Transfer half of soup to blender, add cheddar and Parmesan, and process until smooth, about 1 minute.  Transfer soup to a medium bowl and repeat with remaining soup. Return soup to the Dutch oven, and place over medium heat and bring to a simmer.  Adjust consistency of the soup with up to 1 cup of water.  Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve, passing extra Parmesan separately.

Serves 6.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here: Broccoli-Cheese Soup

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