Happy New Year! I hope you all had a wonderful holiday season!
I have been a little slow getting back to the blog in 2018. Let me tell what has been happening.
First, I mentioned during my last post of 2017 that we are in the process of redesigning my website. My desiger, Lorell and I have been going back and forth on layouts, color schemes and fonts which is fun, but quite a process to say the least. I think we are starting to narrow down our options which is exciting. We had hoped to have it ready for the start of this blogging year, but it looks like it may be a Q1 event instead!
Second, I have been trying to whip my house back into shape after putting away all the seasonal decor. Last year at this time, I mentioned that I had been working with a friend who was helping me to streamline (aka declutter) my entire house. The whole process was a bit as I imagine it would be to work with a personal trainer who says to you, this may not exactly be fun but you will be happy with the results. My house lost a lot of lb’s. But like anything, after the trainer leaves you need to keep the house on a maintenance program! So at the start of the year, I went through every closet and gathered several bags of items for donation. And more importantly for the day-to-day, I went through the fridge, freezer and my pantries and tossed anything and everything that was tired or expired, reorganizing the shelves and making sense of it all. I have accumulated so many ingredients thanks to the recipe testing and this was way overdue.
And third, I have been focused on helping our younger daughter prepare for Italy where she will be spending this coming semester! We are so excited for her and in fact, she is going on a program sponsored by the same University that sponsored my program to Strasbourg, France many, many moons ago. She is pretty well traveled, but has never been to Italy so I cannot wait to hear her impressions!
So many memories have been flooding back to me of my semester abroad, so I decided to take out the journal I kept while I was there and reread some of the passages, including a few out loud to my daughter. What a kick that is to read entries you wrote while you were a young adult. There was a lot of fun, but also quite a bit of angst if I am honest! There were so many incredible highs, but also a lot of challenges. I wouldn’t trade the experience for the world, however.
My daughter’s experience is not language based as mine was, but like me she will be living with a family. I am keeping my fingers crossed that she has a wonderful experience with them.
I was in Strasbourg for the same Spring semester which happened to be one of the coldest stretches they had experienced in decades. The beauty of the city only truly revealed itself very close to our departure time, but I loved it anyway. My French mere would often begin our evening meals with a simple soup, usually broth based as a first course, followed by a light meal to follow such as an omelet. The soup was meant to fill you up a bit before the main event.
I haven’t always been a soup person, but with the cold we have been experiencing here lately, I have been making quite a bit of it. The recipe I am sharing today I developed for two reasons. First, like I mentioned earlier about cleaning house, I am trying to cook from what I have in my fridge and freezer to reduce waste. Also, I have started researching for our trip to visit our daughter which led me to Elizabeth Minchilli’s site. Have I mentioned her before? I’m not sure I have, but she is someone to follow if you are at all interested in Italy, Italian food, etc. I’ll let you navigate her site to learn more, but I love her style and was looking for some travel guidance when I happened upon a recipe for a roasted cauliflower soup that sounded interesting. I liked the idea of roasting the vegetable first to develop more flavor before preparing the soup. Ina does this with a butternut squash soup. Long story short, I had some broccoli that was desperately raising its hand asking to be used up so I developed my recipe based on her technique.
You can choose to skip that step if you absolutely must however. I added some fresh spinach and parsley (also begging for mercy in my crisper) to amp up the color and the nutrition. And of course because every broccoli soup deserves some cheese, I’ve added Parmesan. You could definitely use a sharp cheddar if you’d prefer. Unlike most broccoli soups, this one does not have any cream or milk, flour or butter. The broccoli is simply pureed with its cooking liquid, making it very light. It’s perfect for a cozy lunch or as a first course for dinner. My husband had a bowl for dinner last night.
Top it with croutons or if you’re feeling decadent, some chopped crispy bacon for a little crunch…
One Year Ago: Turkey Meatball & Kale Soup
Two Years Ago: Katie’s Chicken Tortilla Soup with Black Bean Salsa
Two Years Ago and one week ago: Farro, Citrus & Arugula Salad
Three Years Ago: Scenes from the Kitchen
Three Years and one week ago: Cheesy Baked Tortellini
Four Years Ago: Dulce de Leche Sandwich Cookies
Four Years Ago: Review of Sarma in Somerville, Massachusetts
Four Years Ago: Chicken Parmesan Meatballs
This soup has all the flavor of the more decadent broccoli-cheese varieties out there, but is much lighter as there is no flour, butter, milk or cream added. The vegetables are pureed along with their cooking liquid to provide a smooth and creamy texture. Spinach and parsley are added to amp up the nutrition and the color. Remember that it is tricky to blend hot liquids so allow the soup to cool for a bit before putting it in the blender. To be safe, vent the top of the blender while pureeing. As always, feel free to make this your own with more garlic or cheese! And if you want to skip the roasting procedure, just add the raw broccoli at the same time as you add the broth and cook until tender. You may want to increase the cooking liquid just a bit if you choose to do this. Please use low-sodium chicken broth as Parmesan is a salty cheese. Vegetable broth can be substituted.
- 1 1/4 pounds broccoli heads, cut into florets (about 7 cups or so)
- 2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
- 1 large shallot or 2 small, chopped (about 1 cup)
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- Pinch of red chili flakes
- 4 cups low-sodium chicken broth (can substitute vegetable broth)
- 2 1/2 ounces fresh spinach (about half of an average bag)
- Handful of fresh parsley (leaves and stems)
- 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and line a sheet pan with parchment paper. Toss the the broccoli with a good drizzle of olive oil, being sure to coat all of it and season with a little kosher salt and some freshly ground black pepper. Place on sheet pan and roast for about 25 minutes or until the edges are getting some color. You may want to toss it with a spatula about half way through the cooking time. Remove from the oven.
- In a large pot, warm the 2 Tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. Add the shallots and saute until they are softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and red chili flakes and cook for another minute just to release the flavor. Add the broccoli and the broth and bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and partially cover. Allow the soup to simmer for about 20 minutes or so until the broccoli has really softened. Add the spinach and parsley and stir just until they have wilted.
- Allow the soup to cool for about 15 minutes. Then puree the soup in batches in your blender to your desired consistency (I like it completely pureed). Add the soup back to the pot and over a low heat, add the parmesan cheese, stirring to insure that it melts evenly.
- Taste the soup for seasoning. You may not want to add any more salt given the Parmesan is a salty cheese but some additional freshly ground pepper is always welcome.
- Top with toasted croutons or some chopped bacon or whatever else you fancy! Pass extra Parmesan alongside.
This sounds light and delicious Val! I also have been trying to cook through the ingredients in my pantry, freezer and crisper. I am an enthusiastic shopper and often overwhelmed by excess!
I love your description of being an enthusiastic shopper, Francine! I think I may have the same issue 🙂
This looks delish! Think I’ll give it a spin this weekend. Thanks Val, and Happy New Year.
Happy New Year! I hope you enjoy it!