Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Cream Of Broccoli Soup

Ugggghhhh. After a couple days of stomach flu, I'm starting to think about food again. Slowly. I've made a lot of plain, white rice chamomile tea recently and yesterday I was able to upgrade to a simple and tasty cream of broccoli soup. This is the season for it anyway. I used all of the broccoli and took care to peel the rough, unchewable outer layer of the stems before they went into the pot. The broccoli florets are more tender than the stalk so make sure the stalk is chopped into a ½ inch dice to cook more evenly.

2 pounds of broccoli florets, chopped leaves and peeled, diced stems.
¼ cup butter
¼ cup flour (or more - I'll explain later)
2 cups milk
salt, pepper and nutmeg to taste

In a large stock pot, boil the broccoli until it is soft. While the broccoli is cooking, melt the butter in a small pot over medium heat then add the flour to make a roux. The ¼ cup to ¼ cup ratio above will give you a liquidy roux ("roux" being fried flour and butter that you use to thicken sauces and soups). I feel like I can get more thickening action out of it with less fat by adding more flour to this and getting a kind of cookie dough-y consistency frying at the bottom of the pan. In any case, cook the roux, stirring constantly for 2 minutes on medium heat. Add the 2 cups of milk and whisk vigorously until all the lumps have been incorporated into a smooth, thick sauce. (So, now you've just made bechamel sauce! Congratulations!) Without draining the broccoli, puree it in the cooking water with an immersion blender (or "Cuisinart wand" or whatever you want to call that stick thing with the propeller at the tip) If there are a few pieces of broccoli left, I don't consider it a problem. Add the bechamel, stir, add salt, pepper and nutmeg to taste and serve piping hot in big, big bowls!


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