Cream of Broccoli Soup
Issue number 45 September 2007 p. 78 (no link found online)
prep time: around 20 minutes, depending on how quickly you can chop broccoli; total time: 40 minutes
- 1 T olive oil
- 1/2 of a big, white onion or one medium onion, diced
- coarse salt and ground pepper
- about 30 ounces of homemade veggie stock (the recipe says to use reduced sodium chicken broth, more on that later)
- 1 large head broccoli (about 3 pounds) with the leaves yanked off. cut into florets with the stalks coarsely chopped.
- 1 medium baking potato, peeled and diced small
- 1/2 c heavy cream
- 1/4 c fresh lemon juice (from 2 lemons…LOTS more on that later)
- Saute the onions in the oil over medium until soft, roughly 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add broth, broccoli, potato, and 2 cups water. Season with salt again. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until broccoli and potato are tender, about 4 minutes.
- Working in batches, puree soup in a blender and return to pot. Remember not to overfill the blender jar, and do the towel over the blender lid opening trick to keep the hot soup from exploding all over. Stir in cream and lemon juice, season again.
- (I never got to the freezer part of these directions. Suffice it to say you let the soup cool, put it in freezer-safe containers with room to expand and freeze for up to three months.)
-adapted from Everyday Food Issue number 45 (September 2007) p. 77-78
Have you ever been relieved to throw food out? I hate to waste, so I rarely throw things away unless they’ve gone bad. This soup was an exception.
Let me begin by saying everything that was right about this recipe. It’s a “Freeze It” recipe. I love those recipes. Of all of my EF go-to recipes, most of them are Freeze It’s. I like having some buffer in my meal planning, so I don’t have to pick from three choices: cook, order in, or heat up a frozen pizza. The beauty of a Freeze It is that it’s as good and wholesome as cooking, but as fast as heating the frozen pizza. So this recipe had that going for it. Also, it’s cream of broccoli soup. When has that ever not been good? Not that I can remember. I was somewhat suspicious because this is not cheese and broccoli soup. Obviously, cheese improves all soups by a power of…let’s say five to be on the conservative side. Well, as long as we’re playing the hindsight game, the recipe also had a note saying “Just a small amount of potato and a whir in the blender make soups smooth and rich-tasting, so you can get away with using less cream.” Potato + air = cream. Interesting….
So it should have been a creamy, yummy, freezer-friendly recipe. What it turned out as was an oddly sour and thin soup that was thrown away soon after eating. The pieces of bread you see on top of the soup were my own addition. I figured if cheese would have made the soup better, then I could add cheese to the top. Plus, cheese toasts would give us something to dunk. And I like bread with soup. The cheese toasts were the best part of the meal. I toasted pieces of wheat bread, threw some grated Swiss cheese on top, and put them under the broiler for a couple minutes until they were melted. The toaster and the broiler? Yeah. I don’t trust my broiler not to burn things, so I try to use it as little as possible. If I had a toaster oven, I would have used that.
Back to the icky soup. Where did it go wrong?
Some theories: Theory 1: I used homemade veggie stock and it was too rich or intensely flavored for the soup. The stock itself was very robust and flavorful. If you’re at all curious, here’s a good post on how to do it. I got the recipe from this amazing book, The Urban Homestead. It’s also where we got the homemade yogurt recipe. You know how usually veggie stock doesn’t taste like much of anything? This tasted like earth and roasted veggies and strong coffee and going to see a man about a horse. I think it’s possible that my brawny stock was too much for cream of broccoli. The recipe might have just needed a base slightly more flavorful than water. If I ever try and cross this bridge again, I think I would try store-bought veggie stock or, better yet, use the chicken broth the recipe actually calls for. Chicken broth would give it saltiness and richness without overpowering the rest of the soup. I have to disagree with the reduced-sodium idea, though. This recipe needs salt badly.
Theory 2: There is too much lemon juice in this recipe. The recipe calls for a 1/4 cup of lemon juice. Before the lemon juice went it, this was a lackluster soup with an off-putting earthiness that probably needed a ton more salt (and some cheese). After the lemon juice? Shudder. It tasted like sour broccoli blended with milk and heated up, which, come to think of it, was pretty much true. A quick squeeze of lemon juice might have brightened this dish up a little, but 1/4 cup was far too much.
All that wasn’t enough to make me throw it out. I threw it out because we forgot about it after dinner and left it on the stovetop over night. I’m kind of a food safety nut (a food safety nut who eats cookie dough, so that’s the glass house from which I throw all of my rocks). I didn’t think it was safe to eat a cream soup that sat out for 12 hours. Boo hoo. Off to the trash, sour soup!
It was the rare Everyday Food bust.