Do you ever have one of those days when you don’t feel like making the thing you had planned for dinner? Or you’re just not hungry for it? Sure, fish chowder sounded good when you did your weekly meal planning and grocery shopping last Sunday. But not anymore—today, the very thought of seafood ruins your appetite. I have one of those days a lot. It drives my husband nuts, but how in the world am I supposed to guess what I’ll be in the mood for at some future date? If only I had a crystal ball. So what to do? Go out? No, that would blow the budget. And, in any case, all I know is what I’m not hungry for, not what I actually do want to eat. Then there’s the inevitable exchange…
Me: “What do you feel like having?”
Husband: “I don’t know, what do you feel like having?”
Me: Sigh. “I don’t know, I asked you first.”
Husband: “I don’t know. Fish chowder?” Belly grumbles.
And on and on.
Me, finally: “I know, there’s broccoli and cheddar.” There’s always broccoli and cheddar in the fridge, and there’s one thing I’m always, always in the mood for—Broccoli-Cheese Soup.
4 ounces (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 yellow onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
½ cup all-purpose flour
2 quarts chicken broth
1 ¼ pounds broccoli, stalks and florets separated and chopped
½ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 to 2 teaspoons Tabasco sauce
1 bay leaf
¼ teaspoon powdered mustard
Generous pinch cayenne pepper
8 ounces shredded sharp cheddar
Freshly ground black pepper
Heat a large, heavy pot over medium-high heat until hot but not smoking. Add the butter and onion and sauté for 4 to 5 minutes, or until soft. Add the garlic and sauté for another 30 seconds, or until fragrant. Stir in the flour. Stir in the broth and add the broccoli stalks, Worcestershire, Tabasco, bay leaf, mustard, and cayenne. Bring to a boil and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 16 to 18 minutes, or until the stalks are tender. Discard the bay leaf, remove from the heat, and puree with an immersion blender until smooth. Return to the heat and add the broccoli florets. Bring to a boil and simmer, stirring occasionally, for another 7 to 8 minutes, or until the florets are tender. Reduce the heat to low, stir in the cheddar, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Ladle into bowls and serve immediately.
Serves 6. Feel free to substitute vegetable broth or water if you prefer a vegetarian soup. If you don’t have an immersion blender, you can use a regular blender but remember: never fill a blender more than half way with hot liquid. This means you will need to blend the soup in batches and reheat it before adding the broccoli florets. Do not boil the soup once the cheddar has been added, or it will have a grainy texture.