Thursday, March 6, 2014

Broccoli & Cheese Soup

I've always been afraid of roux, avoiding recipes that start with one. I'm not sure where this rather misguided phobia came from. Looking back through my cook books I see that I've been successfully combining equal parts of flour and butter in other things without calling it a "roux." Perhaps it's French that scares me.

At any rate, I love Panera's Broccoli & Cheese Soup, but I'm not a huge fan of eating out. I prefer to cook at home. In my mind it's cheaper and healthier though I'm vaguely aware that it might not always be. I figured out the cost of making this soup as compared to buying tubs of Panera's own at Sam's Club. Mine is approximately $0.75 cheaper.

Now that we're all depressed, let's make a roux!

The Recipe

From start to finish steps to make homemade broccoli and cheese soup.2 c water
2 chicken bouillon cubes
1/2 stick of butter
1/4 c flour
2 c milk
1 lb frozen broccoli
1 c chopped carrots
salt & pepper to taste
8 oz extra sharp cheddar cheese

1. Dissolve the two chicken bouillon cubes in two cups of boiling water. If you use pre-made chicken broth, skip this step.
2. In a large pot, melt the butter over low heat, add the flour and stir constantly for a few minutes to create a roux. Be sure to stir constantly to avoid lumps.
3. Add the milk and chicken broth, simmer for about 20 minutes stirring constantly.
4. Add the broccoli, carrots, salt and pepper; simmer until vegetables are tender. ***Check to make sure the vegetables are fork tender. If they're too tough they will not fare well in the blender and there will be sharp bits in the finished soup. Don't ask how I know this.***
5. Transfer soup to blender in batches, pulse until vegetables are chopped into desired size.
6. Put soup and shredded cheese into a crock pot. Heat on low to melt cheese. Soup will be warm and ready to enjoy!

I use chicken bouillon cubes because they keep forever in the pantry and I don't need to remember to buy broth. Substitute two cups of chicken or vegetable broth for the water and bouillon cubes if needed.
I've used everything from skim milk to heavy cream in this recipe. My palate is apparently not sensitive enough to tell the difference, so I usually use skim because it's what we always have.

The Reviews
The chief critic (this is what I'm going to call Julia because she is most critical of my cooking) thought this performance of the soup was "way better than the last time" I made it. For the first time she actually ate it instead of complaining that she prefers whole pieces of steamed broccoli with cheese melted on it.
Husband and I both enjoyed the soup, but to be friendly to my personal FODMAP tolerances there's a limit to how much of this I can enjoy. Broccoli and wheat are both on the fructans list which is one of my restricted categories.

Bon Appetit! (See? Scary!)