February 25, 2010

Winter Meals

Yesterday was another snowy day in New England.  The kids were home from school and snow that had piled up had turned to rain.  It was one of those days where you just couldn't get warm.  I decided that soup would cure winter!  But what to make?  All the usual choices were vetoed. I decided to make Broccoli Cheddar Soup.  But as I looked in my cookbooks and online, about the only recipe I could find was a knockoff of Panera's.  Not exactly what I was looking for.  I decided I would come up with my own, making a cream of broccoli and adding cheese at the end.  It turned out great and was big hit.  The kids loved it and it was filling on its own.  Even though it was a cream soup, I only used 1/2 cup of half and half and it was plenty creamy. No one missed the extra fat! 

I just saw the forecast and it looks like the mid atlantic area is getting huge amounts of snow today.... this could be your answer of what to do for dinner.  We aren't getting snow, just rain, so I am assuming my soup did the trick!

Broccoli Cheddar Soup

1 medium onion, chopped
4 tblsp butter
1/4 cup flour
4 cups chicken stock or broth
1/8 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
1 head of broccoli, stalks peeled and sliced in 1/2 slices
1/2 cup half and half
1 cup freshly grated cheddar cheese
fresh ground pepper
salt(taste first, I did not need to add salt)

In large pot, saute onion in butter until soft and translucent.  Add flour, whisking in until smooth and bubbling.  Slowly add chicken stock, whisking constantly with heat on medium.  Stock will thicken as you whisk. Add pepper to taste (and salt if desired). Add nutmeg. Bring to a low boil and cook for 10 minutes, whisking frequently.  Add stalks of broccoli first and cook for 5 minutes.  Then add flowerets and cook broccoli on low until it is very soft, approximately 15-20 minutes.
Remove from heat and let sit for 5 minutes.  In small batches, blend in blender or food processor. Put batches into clean pot and return to heat.  Whisk in half and half.  Add more chicken broth if too thick.* Bring to a low boil and add cheese.  Remove from heat and serve, garnish with small amount of cheddar on top.  
*If you are making ahead, do not add cheese.  Refrigerate and after returning to heat to serve, add cheese then. 

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