Spring is here! My garden is calling, but unfortunately so is the freezing wind, cold rain, and strong desire to cuddle up with a fuzzy dog and a warm book. A cup of soup would fit this picture perfectly.
Broccoli has been making welcome appearances in my CSA box as of late. I love broccoli and cheese soup, but my kids still object to the little green trees, even though dinosaurs eat them. I set out to create a soup I hoped would change their minds, which of course means no visible broccoli.
A cream soup sounded good, but I didn’t feel like going out in the nasty weather to buy cream. All I had was skim milk, so I hoped the tiny yellow potatoes in my drawer would thicken things up. It worked! It worked so well that you wouldn’t know there’s no cream.
I decided to make some cheesy croutons to go along with the soup for a few reasons:
1) So I wouldn’t miss the lack of chunky broccolets
2) To avoid make a bunch of individual grilled cheese sandwiches
3) So my kids wouldn’t get full on grilled cheese to avoid eating the scary bright green soup
I can’t say my plan worked perfectly. My 7 year old just said the soup tasted like broccoli even though I called it Green Monster Soup to gloss over the fact that it’s full of broccoli. My 2 year old spent the meal trying not to try it, but when she finally did, she said, “Yummy!”
Green Monster Soup (Or, if there are no picky eaters within earshot, <No Cream> Cream of Broccoli Soup)
2 large heads of broccoli, thick stem removed (about 1 lb usable pieces)
2-4 Tablespoons butter (2 if you prefer low-fat, 4 if you like butter)
½ onion, diced
1 clove garlic, crushed
4-5 small, or 1 large potato peeled and cubed (about ½ lb)
2 Tablespoons flour
1 can natural chicken broth
1 cup water
2 cups milk (any fat you prefer, it’s creamy even with nonfat)
¼ teaspoon salt if you use 4 Tbsp butter, 1/2 teaspoon if you use 2 Tbsp
one good handful shredded cheddar
1) Heat a large pot to medium. Melt butter and sauteé onion till soft and transparent, about five minutes.
2) Add crushed garlic and broccoli. Sauteé another five minutes, stirring occasionally, while you peel and cube your potatoes.
3) Sprinkle flour over broccoli and stir till it disappears.
4) Add potatoes, broth, water, milk, and salt. Bring to a boil on high, then reduce heat to medium low and simmer for about 15 minutes until the veggies are tender.
5) Puree the soup in small batches in the blender, being very careful to vent the blender’s lid slightly and cover with a clean kitchen towel to prevent lava soup explosions, and pour the creamy stuff back in the pot. Stir in the shredded cheese.
6) Serve with my grilled cheese croutons (particularly if you think it will convince your picky eaters to try a very green soup.)
Grilled Cheese Croutons
3 Tablespoons butter
1 clove garlic, crushed
4 slices old-ish sandwich bread
1-2 handfuls grated cheddar
1) Heat a large non-stick (or verrry well seasoned cast iron) skillet to medium heat. While waiting for the pan to heat, cube the slices of bread.
3) Add bread cubes and stir quickly so the bread soaks up the butter as evenly as possible.
4) Let the bread sit undisturbed for a minute or two till one side browns nicely. Then flip ‘em.
5) Throw the grated cheddar over the bread cubes, stir once to evenly distribute, then let it sit undisturbed until the cheese is crispy. (It won’t come out of the pan happily till it crisps up.) Loosen the lot of crispy goodness with a spatula. Slide it onto a plate and let cool a moment before breaking it up into bite-sized pieces.
6) Sprinkle over soups, salads, or just pop ‘em in your mouth.