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Thursday, January 3, 2013

"Cream" of Broccoli Soup - VEGAN!

Cream of Broccoli Soup - completely vegan and delicious!
I bought way too many bunches of broccoli for Christmas dinner and then forgot to cook it!  I had so much food around the house for our holiday festivities, that the broccoli got left in the basement refrigerator (yes, I know, since moving to New Jersey, I've become more suburban with my 2 car garage and 2nd refrigerator!)  There was no way we could eat all the broccoli before it spoiled.  I could have frozen some but I thought it would make more sense to make a quick soup instead.  This soup is so easy and quick, plus it's "clean eating" just in time for the detox for the New Year.  

Clean eating because it's made entirely of vegetables, fresh water, a tiny bit of olive oil, salt, pepper, and nutmeg.  Everything fresh, from scratch and as simple as it should be.  It's vegan cream of broccoli because I used Idaho/Russet potatoes to be the thickener and "cream" in the soup.  The secret to making this taste great is to build up flavors by using aromatic vegetables, sweating them until they begin to caramelize.  Don't use a lot of water, try to keep the salt to a minimum and let the flavors of the soup marry overnight to  blend together before doing a final seasoning.  I don't use store bought stocks - too salty and frankly, expensive.  You can use water and make your soup taste great if you just add in more aromatic vegetables in the beginning.  I like the addition of carrots in this soup, they add a sweetness and help take away some of the broccoli's harsh, cruciferous edge.  

Vegan Cream of Broccoli Soup Ingredients:

  • 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 2 Cups Onions - diced small
  • 1 Cup Carrots - diced small
  • 1 1/2 Cups Celery - diced small
  • 2 Idaho/Russet Potatoes - peeled and diced small (about 2 to 3 cups)
  • 6 Bunches/Heads of Broccoli Florets - cut stems away and reserve
  • 6 Cups Water
  • Salt, Freshly Ground Black Pepper - to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon Freshly Grated Nutmeg - more or less to taste

Equipment Needed:

  • Stock Pot
  • Large Mixing Bowl
  • Spatula
  • Food Processor, Blender or Immersion Blender

Directions:
  1. Clean and prep all the vegetables.  Cut the broccoli florets off of their stems and reserve the stems.  Cut the woody outer covering off of the broccoli stems and slice the stems into small pieces or dice them.
  2. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a stock pot over medium high heat until the oil begins to shimmer.  Add in the onions, carrots and celery and sweat the vegetables until the carrots are tender and the onions and celery turn from translucent to golden - about 15 minutes.
  3. Add in the broccoli stems and the diced Idaho/Russet potatoes.  Pour in 6 cups of cold water, cover the pot and bring the mixture to a boil.  Then, reduce the heat, and simmer covered, for 20 minutes.
  4. After 20 minutes, add in the broccoli florets, pushing them down into the pot.  If they don't all fit, don't worry, as the broccoli cooks down, the rest will fit into the pot.  Cover the pot and cook for another 20 to 30 minutes, stirring occasionally and pushing the broccoli down into the pot.
  5. When the broccoli is completely tender and falling apart, remove from heat and allow to cool down, uncovered, 10 to 15 minutes.
  6. Once the soup is cool enough to handle, puree the soup in a food processor or blender, working in batches.  If using an immersion blender, you can do this in the stock pot, all in one step.  Ladle some of the soup and the solids into work bowl of the food processor of blender. Cover the top of the blender or food processor tightly, then cover the lid with a kitchen towel to prevent leakage or soup from flying out!  Puree until the mixture is nearly smooth.  Pour the soup into a mixing bowl, then continue pureeing the solids in batches until all the soup is done. 
  7. Pour the soup back into the stock pot and bring the soup back to a simmer and season with a generous pinch of salt, pepper and the nutmeg;  don't over-season the soup at this point, as the flavors still need to marry together.  The soup will actually taste better if it's had a chance to sit for at least an hour to over-night.  If not using with in an hour, cool the soup and store in containers.  Refrigerate.  Season to taste when ready to serve.
  8. Makes approximately 3 quarts of soup.  Holds, refrigerated and tightly covered, for up to 3 days. Freeze, in tightly covered containers, allowing for a little head space for up to 2 months.  

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