Aside from the fact that it’s been unseasonably warm the past few days (snow in fall and 70s in winter?), most evenings call for something a bit hearty. A warm bowl of soup to take the chill away. Generally a hearty broth soup filled with veggies, beans and greens will do the trick, but when you seek pure indulgence, a creamy soup is really the only way to go.
There was a time when I shuddered at the thought of cream soups. It wasn’t actually because I disliked them, more that the idea scared me away. My freshman year of high school I traveled to Quebec City with our marching band. I was part of the color guard and while we had nothing to do with the competition they were competing at, the color guard was still invited along. Mainly, I think, because we pretty much carried them through the marching band season and it was finally our turn to sit back. Our first night in the city we dined at a tiny French restaurant. You had to walk down a short set of stairs to what resembled an old basement. Surrounded by dark brick walls, it was a bit damp but felt French. Being just 13, it was one of the first “fancy” places I remembered dining.
The menu was fixed with only a choice of entrees. I probably ordered chicken, sticking to safer foods at that age. I don’t remember anything about the meal except the first course, a small turine of creamy orange liquid being placed in front of me. Cream of carrot soup. Our tables were long, banquet style ones set for 10 or maybe more. Beside me sat some of my good friends and others I hardly knew. I wasn’t about to cause a scene and be the “weird” freshman, so I figured choking down a few bites would make do. Quickly a few bites turned into practically licking the bowl. I had never tasted something so rich before. It was like butter, but richer. That soup put me on a lifelong quest for creamy soups.
And while I find many loves, none seem to match the first. To this day, I wonder if that first creamy carrot soup was really as exquisite as I remembered or if it was just the shock to my palate of something new and wonderful. For that reason alone, I hardly attempt to make carrot soup as I feel it will never compare. Broccoli is a close second love and with this soup not only do you get the rich buttery flavor, but a bit of depth from the roasted quality too.
Roasted Broccoli Soup (Serves 4-6)
- 3 bunches of broccoli, florets only (about 6 cups)
- 2 tbsp olive oil, divided
- Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 3 c vegetable stock
- 1 c heavy cream
- Shredded cheddar cheese for garnish, if desired
Preheat oven to 400°F. In a large baking dish drizzle broccoli with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and generously season with sea salt and pepper. Toss broccoli until well coated. Roast broccoli for 30-45 minutes (depending how thick the florets are) until tender and browned around the edges.
In a large dutch oven heat remaining tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and saute until fragrant and onion is slightly translucent. Add broccoli and saute an additional minute before adding stock. Bring pot to a boil, then reduce heat, cover and simmer until broccoli is very tender, about 20 minutes.
Remove from heat. Using a hand blender, or working in batches with a food processor, puree soup until smooth. Return pot to stove and stir in cream. Continue cooking soup over medium low heat until it just begins to boil. Ladle soup into bowls and garnish with shredded cheddar.
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