Broccoli-Cheese Soup

Published March 1, 2011. From Cook's Illustrated.

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Why this recipe works:

Overcooking the broccoli in our Broccoli-Cheese Soup recipe coaxed all the flavor out of it. Adding a bit of baking soda to the cooking water sped up the cooking process, and pureeing fresh baby spinach along with the other ingredients brightened the Broccoli-Cheese Soup’s bright green color… read more

Overcooking the broccoli in our Broccoli-Cheese Soup recipe coaxed all the flavor out of it. Adding a bit of baking soda to the cooking water sped up the cooking process, and pureeing fresh baby spinach along with the other ingredients brightened the Broccoli-Cheese Soup’s bright green color and enhanced its vegetable flavor. Finally, cheddar and Parmesan gave our soup adequate cheesy flavor without making it heavy.

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Serves 6 to 8

To make a vegetarian version of this soup, substitute vegetable broth for the chicken broth.

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 pounds broccoli, florets roughly chopped into 1-inch pieces, stems trimmed, peeled, and cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices
  • 1 medium onion, roughly chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 2 medium garlic cloves, minced or pressed through garlic press (about 2 teaspoons)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dry mustard powder
  • pinch cayenne pepper
  • Table salt
  • 3–4 cups water
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth (see note)
  • 2 ounces baby spinach (2 loosely packed cups)
  • 3 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (3/4 cup)
  • 1 1/2 ounces Parmesan cheese, grated fine (about 3/4 cup), plus extra for serving
  • Ground black pepper

Instructions

  1. 1. Heat butter in large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. When foaming subsides, add broccoli, onion, garlic, dry mustard, cayenne, and 1 teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant, about 6 minutes. Add 1 cup water and baking soda. Bring to simmer, cover, and cook until broccoli is very soft, about 20 minutes, stirring once during cooking.

    2. Add broth and 2 cups water and increase heat to medium-high. When mixture begins to simmer, stir in spinach and cook until wilted, about 1 minute. Transfer half of soup to blender, add cheddar and Parmesan, and process until smooth, about 1 minute. Transfer soup to medium bowl and repeat with remaining soup. Return soup to Dutch oven, place over medium heat and bring to simmer. Adjust consistency of soup with up to 1 cup water. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve, passing extra Parmesan separately.

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