I wish I could gaze into a crystal ball and see the future, perhaps six months from now. I wish I could see that the progress we’ve made means something and our efforts — the talking, the patience, the healing books and the one-footstep-in-front-of-another philosophy — is working and will land our family and community somewhere better. Of course, I can’t. Instead, I must take comfort in the fact that today is better than last week, which was better than the week before that. Things are improving, slowly. We’re healing, slowly. Meanwhile, I really want to just get back to good food here on Sarah’s Cucina Bella. I mean, that’s what this site is all about, right? Broccoli Cheddar Soup is one of my all-time favorite dishes. I fell in love with it years ago at a country fair, where it was served in a big bread bowl. But I seldom had it again until last year when I spent one day a week in an office not far from Panera Bread. Let’s just say that I ate it a lot working there. A lot, a lot. Now that I am back to working exclusively at home, I’ve been left to my own devices to make my own Broccoli Cheddar Soup — and let me tell you, this is as warm and comforting as the one I remember. It’s like a hug from a loved one or a beautiful memory — it just wraps you in happy joy.
Good thing my family likes it too because now I make it a little more often than I probably should. For the past few months, I have been making this soup on a pretty regular basis. Sometimes I leave it a little more chunky. Sometimes I puree it totally. But either way, it’s always good. I love this with a hunk of crusty bread, torn straight from the loaf. No butter … just the soup and the bread complimenting each other. Sometimes, that’s all you need — just a simple combination to make everything just right. Note: recipe adapted from Juanita’s Cocina.
- 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1/4 cup butter
- 1/4 cup all purpose flour
- 2 1/2 cups half and half
- 4 cups chicken stock
- 1 head broccoli, florets chopped and stalk grated (about 4 1/2 cups prepared total)
- 2 large carrots, peeled and grated
- 2 cups sharp cheddar cheese
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 1/8 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
- Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté for 7-8 minutes, until softened and slightly golden. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.
- Add the butter to the pot and melt. Whisk in the flour and cook for 3-4 minutes until smooth and golden. Whisk in the chicken stock slowly and then the half and half. Heat, whisking occasionally for 5 minutes.
- Stir the broccoli and carrots into the pot. Simmer, uncovered, for 30-35 minutes, until the vegetables are tender. Stir in the cheddar cheese a little at a time. Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg. Stir, and then taste, adjusting seasoning as needed.
- Remove from the burner and use an immersion blender to puree the soup. If desired, remove some of the veggies first and then add then back after pureeing.
Sarah Walker Caron is a cookbook author, freelance writer and founder of Sarah’s Cucina Bella. She is the author of several cookbooks including The Super Easy 5-Ingredient Cookbook and One-Pot Pasta, both from Rockridge Press. A single mother to two kids in middle school, Sarah loves nightly family dinners, juicy tomatoes plucked fresh from the vine and lazy days on the beach. She also adores reading and traveling.