Thursday, December 20, 2012

Broccoli-potato-cheddar soup

It's been kind of warm these past few days, but the cold weather is coming and that means I'm craving soup.  Specifically, I'm craving broccoli cheddar soup, Panera-style.  I decided to add a bit of potato to make it more filling and try to use up the potatoes that have been sitting around in my pantry for a while.

served with some delicious Mancini's pesto bread...perfection!

2 cubes of vegetable (or chicken) bouillon
5 1/2 cups of water
[alternatively, you could use 2 cups of chicken or veggie broth plus 3 1/2 cups of water]
1 head of fresh broccoli, chopped
1-2 medium potatoes
1/2 cup milk or cream
1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
(up to) 1/4 cup flour
salt and pepper

In a large pot, combine bouillon (or broth), water, broccoli, salt, and pepper.  Use the whole broccoli stalk, not just the florets.  Bring to a boil.

mmmm, broccoli

Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 30 minutes.

While the soup is simmering, peel and chop the potatoes into 1/2 inch chunks.  (I say "chunks" rather than "cubes" because mine are never remotely close to cube-shaped.)

Add the potatoes to the broccoli-broth mixture and simmer for an additional 15 minutes.

Stir in flour one spoonful at a time until broth thickens.  Reduce heat and add the milk and cheese.  Stir until cheese is melted.  Serve hot, with a little extra cheese on top as a garnish.

If you plan on having leftovers, take out half of the soup BEFORE adding the flour, milk, and cheese, and finish this last step right before serving.  The first time I made this soup, it thickened so much in the fridge that you could practically chew it after reheating!  If that does happen, though, adding a little milk before you reheat it works wonders.

As usual, I'm already thinking about what else I'd like to do with this soup.  I'm thinking a little red onion might be really good.  Also red bell pepper, if you're into that kind of thing.  Maybe bacon bits?  Good thing we've got several months of cold weather coming up so I can do more soup experiments!

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