Broccoli Soup with Cheddar Croutons

Mar 17th

REALLY excited to share this soup with you. First off, any pureed soup seems fancy to me, and with my butternut squash aversion still in full swing I was anxious to try broccoli. Most broccoli soups are crammed with so much cream and cheddar cheese that any semblance of health goes out the window. Not the case here; you can eat this with a clear conscious as it’s simply bursting with health (and low in calories, to boot).

If you’re a hater of broccoli, listen to this. About half way through dinner (and him on his second bowl), my husband asks, “now, what is this?”. I bit back, “wait, seriously?” and returned with a question – what did HE think it was. He says, spinach? I say, “because it’s green?” He didn’t know it was broccoli soup. Broccoli can sometimes be a bit bitter so I added some peas – voila! The sweetness offset the broccoli-ness and left us with a truly DELICIOUS soup. Remember to add that cayenne at the end; it doesn’t make it spicy but the flavor lingers in the back of your throat in the most perfect way.

I’ve seen buttermilk in creamy soups before and certainly had my doubts, but because I had it on hand I forged ahead. No tang in sight, and since buttermilk has the same nutritional makeup as lowfat milk, it was an extremely light choice. Feel free to sub lowfat/nonfat sour cream (or try 2% Greek yogurt), but I had regular on hand and for such a small amount, the texture paid off.

Instead of loading cheddar cheese into the soup, I made open-faced grilled cheeses and sliced them into croutons – made dinner more fun and because I used my fave – Ezekiel Bread – I added protein and fiber to our dinner. Lastly, we told my 2 1/2 year old that she couldn’t eat the grilled cheese bread until she tried a bite of her soup. We had to stick to our guns but she tried it. As our attention drifted from her and we got into a conversation, I couldn’t help but notice her taking a second, third, and fourth bite of the soup. If you have a veggie hating child like I do – try this soup!

Broccoli Soup with Cheddar Croutons

Serves 4

3 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

1 onion, diced

3 carrots, peeled and diced

1/4 tsp. kosher salt

1/4 tsp. black pepper

3 tbsp. all purpose flour

4 c. chicken broth

1 1/4 lb. fresh broccoli (florets and peeled stems), roughly chopped

1/2 c. frozen peas

1/4 c. sour cream

1/2 c. buttermilk

1/2 tsp. garlic powder

pinch cayenne pepper

Croutons

4 slices whole wheat bread (love Ezekiel)

8 oz. sharp cheddar cheese, shredded, divided

Salt and pepper

1. Heat olive oil in dutch oven or large pot over medium high heat. Add onion, carrots, salt and pepper. Saute until onions are soft, about 6 minutes.

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2. Add flour and stir frequently until mixture turns golden and you smell a “toasty” smell.

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3. Add chicken broth, broccoli and peas and turn heat to high with lid on. When mixture boils, reduce heat to low and set lid askew; simmer for 10-15 minutes or until broccoli is fork tender.

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4. Add sour cream and buttermilk and puree soup with stick blender (or transfer in batches to regular blender, returning blended soup to pot after it’s all blended).

5. Stir in garlic powder and cayenne.

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6. To make croutons, toast bread in toaster and turn oven on broil (move oven rack to top of oven if not already there).

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7. Place toasted bread on foil lined baking sheet and top with about 3/4 of the grated cheese. Add a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Place in oven on top rack and “babysit” until cheese is bubbling and brown. Remove from oven and cut into squares.

8. Serve soup hot with croutons and any leftover cheddar cheese sprinkled on top. Alternate idea – slice cheese toast into sticks and serve to “dunk”.

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