Greetings from Girl Trip '08!
My college roommate and I take a long weekend together every other year, no husbands (either of us) and no kids (roomie). Since 2000 (or was it '98?) we've rafted the West Virginia white water, rode horses, demonstrated in DC, and hit the spa. I didn't think she'd be able to make it this year due to an incredibly busy schedule of work, graduate school, and parenting.
"Vacation is good for the soul," she replied. Words to live by.
Whilst I wait for the cabana boy to freshen my drink, here's today's no-fuss recipe. As a rule, cheese- or cream-based soups don't freeze well. If you're cooking for a smaller household I recommend cutting the recipe in half. It keeps well in the refrigerator, so you can lunch on this for a few days.
Broccoli and Cheese Soup - Full Recipe
1 cup chopped onion
2 garlic cloves, minced ("smooshed")
3 cups fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
1 (16-ounce) package broccoli florets, or one large head of broccoli. Really, you can go a half-cup up or down according to your taste.
2 and a 1/2 cups 2% reduced-fat milk. Skim is more calorie-conscious but the soup will be thinner; whole milk will be richer and thicker.
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
8 ounces light processed cheese, cubed - yup, Vel-vee-ta
Broccoli and Cheese Soup - Half Recipe-
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 garlic cloves, minced ("smooshed")
1 1/2 cups fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth. If you're not going to use much chicken broth for other dishes, just get the box single-serving one-cup portions. They're a little more expensive but much more convenient if you're not making a lot.
8 ounces broccoli florets, or one small head of broccoli. There's flexibility with this according to your taste; use a largeish head of broccoli if that's what you have on hand and need to use up.
1/4 cup all-purpose flour, minus one tablespoon. Don't take this as gospel, I made it up and it's close enough.
4 ounces light processed cheese, cubed - Velveeta!
1. Heat a large nonstick saucepan coated with cooking spray over medium high heat (#5 on an electric stovetop). Add onion and garlic; cook 3 minutes or until tender. The onion will start to look a little see-through. STIR CONTINUOUSLY so that the garlic doesn't burn.
Remember that a metal spoon will scratch a non-stick pan, and it will get hot to the touch. Use a wooden spoon or a silicone spoon/spatula. Target has them and they're not expensive.
Add broth and broccoli. Bring broccoli mixture to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium (#3 on an electric stovetop); cook 10 minutes.
In a small bowl combine milk and flour, stirring with a fork or whisk until it's well-blended. I find it clumps less if I put flour in the bowl first, then add the milk slowly while I whisk (or add a little milk, whisk, then add more).
Add milk mixture to broccoli mixture. Cook 5 minutes or until slightly thick, stirring constantly. The best way to see if it's the right consistency is to see how quickly it slides off the spoon - if you coat your spoon with soup then hold it above the pan, does it run off like water? Cook longer. Does it cling a little bit, like chocolate syrup? You've got it.
Stir in black pepper to taste. If you wish, also add a dash or two of Tabasco sauce.
Remove from heat; turn off the burner if you're using gas, and turn off the burner AND move the pan away from the still-hot burner if you're using electric.
Add the cubed cheese, stirring until cheese melts.
If you're happy with it as-is, you're done. If you want a slightly thicker soup, ladle a cup or so of the soup with broccoli pieces into a blender, puree, and pour back into soup OR use an immersion blender to puree some of the soup.
A good whole grain roll is terrific with this soup. At this time of year a fresh, homegrown, sliced tomato is a perfect side dish.
WHAT DO I DO NOW???
My soup is too thin!
If you want to eat it as soup, whisk some more flour and milk with more flour than last time - OR put it back on medium-low heat and let it cook down a little further. OR you can steam some broccoli in the microwave, add it to the soup, and puree.
If you're ready to be done with the whole thing and eat already, boil some pasta and toss it with your brocoli cheese sauce.
I feel like I haven't eaten dinner without meat!
Add diced ham.
My soup is too thick!
Put it back on medium-low heat and add 1/4 cup chicken broth. Let it simmer a few minutes, then add another 1/4 cup if necessary.
If you have a baked potato handy heat it up, split it down the middle, and add the broccoli/cheese mixture for a great baked potato with broccoli & cheese.