[As I promised yesterday , I am sharing my healthy broccoli cheese soup recipe! But if you haven't voted yet, please do -- voting is open for two more days! I was browsing the entries last night and I'm pretty sure mine is the only one to contain the words "vibrator," "shit show," and "baby killer." Also, don't try to vote twice! The "399 votes left" thing means you can vote for 399 other people still.]
I was away from my apartment for most of last week, staying at Eric’s so I could use his car. When I finally got home on Saturday night, all I wanted to do was spend some time cooking in my kitchen. Alone. For myself. I love cooking for other people and believe me, I love what happens when I have to wait while the oven pre-heats when I’m at Eric’s place…but I also love what happens when I’m alone in my kitchen, making a huge mess and licking my fingers as I go.
I spent Sunday morning reading magazines and browsing online to find the perfect stay-in-the-kitchen Sunday recipe, and I finally decided I wanted soup. Yes, it’s still pretty warm here, but I can eat soup year-round, and I love cooking it. I settled on this broccoli cheddar soup from an old, old issue of Cooking Light.
I was in the mood for a little more cooking than that, so I decided I’d make a loaf of homemade beer bread to go with it.
For the soup…
1 tsp real butter
1 cup chopped onion
Two garlic cloves, minced
3 cups of fat-free, no-sodium chicken broth
1 (16-ounce) package of frozen broccoli florets (you can thaw them to save some time, but it’s not a huge deal)
2 and 1/2 cups 2 percent milk
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp black pepper
8 ounces light processed cheese (I went with Velveeta 2 percent cheese — it’s actually not in the refrigerated section, just FYI) , cut into cubes
For the bread…
3 cups flour
1 tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp baking powder
1.5 cups beer
Optional glaze: 1 egg, 2 tsp water, beaten
I wasn’t sure what beer I wanted to go with, but since it’s fall, I went with a local Oktoberfest beer.
Now put on your apron and let’s do this!
First, pre-heat the oven to 375 and make the bread by combining all the ingredients. It’s really that simple. If you decide to use the egg glaze, I recommend only using half of it. That’s what I did this time, and I didn’t end up with a scrambled egg on top.
(It also occurred to me just now that you could probably very easily make beer bread bowls for the soup! Just fashion the dough into large balls and bake; when done, cut out the tops, Panera-style.)
Put the bread in the oven and set the timer for 40 minutes.
While it cooks, chop the onion and garlic and cube the cheese. The soup doesn’t take too long to make, so you might want to wait until the bread has been baking for about thirty minutes to get things started. When you’re ready, heat a large soup pot over medium-high heat and add the butter. Then add the garlic and onion and saute it for about three minutes.
Next add the broth and broccoli; bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce it to medium and let it cook for ten minutes.
The bread will probably be done before the soup is, in all its drunken golden glory!
You’re going to let it cool for ten minutes in the pan and then ten minutes out of the pan, so that is OK!
Meanwhile, combine the milk and flour and stir with a whisk until it’s well-blended. (Seriously, blend it — my flour all settled to the bottom and I had no idea. Oops!) Add that to the broccoli mixture and cook for five minutes, stirring constantly. Stir in the pepper and remove from heat, then add the cheese and stir until the cheese melts.
Then the fun/dangerous part: if you don’t have an immersion blender, scoop about a third of the soup into a blender or Magic Bullet — what I did because apparently my immersion blender is still in Michigan — and blend until smooth. Then return the soup to the pot and stir.
Slice the bread and get your butter ready!
And then serve yourself right.
I will be eating this soup for days, then re-making it to eat for months to come! And just FYI, a cup only has 150 calories and a good amount of protein and calcium, which is the start to a great lunch. Plus, it’s lower in sodium than most store-bought or cafe-bought soups!
And the Oktoberfest beer bread was great, as I expected. I love this recipe because it’s so cheap and you can make it with any type of beer or flour. This was my first time straying from Bud Light, and the beer flavor was more pronounced this time. That’s totally not a bad thing though — I don’t know about you, but I love it when my lunch brings back the slightest memories of frat parties.