I Decimate Trees

There are only four ways a human can eat broccoli:

  1. Raw (usually with a dip or smothered in salad dressing)
  2. Steamed as a side dish (with or without gooey orange day-glo cheese)
  3. In something else (typically a 1950s style casserole)
  4. Completely and utterly decimated within a bowl of soup

I love broccoli prepared in all of the above versions. I love the little trees on pizza, in pasta sauces, straight off the stalk…. you name it, and I’m munching on these cruciferous little buggers. Of course, not everyone in my household is as fond of broccoli as I am. So, when I bought the giant bag o’ fresh broc bits at Costco, I had to think of a way to use them up before they went brown and gooey inside of my fridge.

What better way to use half the bag than with a lovely cream of broccoli soup? Never you mind my lactose intolerance. I will take one for the team in order to shove some veggies down the gullet of my husband. This recipe is a mix of a bunch of recipes I’ve tried over the years. As always, if you want to make it veg-person friendly, just substitute the bacon with butter and chicken stock with veggie stock.

My Own Cream o’ Broccoli Soup

Serves: Depends on how much you love it… maybe 4, maybe 8

  • 2 strips bacon
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 center bit of the celery sans leaves (you know, that stuff that you always end up throwing out because it’s too small to make into sticks)
  • 2½ C chicken stock
  • 8 C broccoli (all bits welcome… the tree parts and the trunk parts)
  • 4 T butter and 4 T flour to make a roux
  • 2 C whole milk
  • 2-3 dashes of Tabasco sauce

In a large stock pot, fry up the bacon to render out the fat. Remove the crispy bacon and save for later. Saute the onion and celery until tender. Add ½ C of the chicken stock and use it to deglaze the pan (scrape up all of the brown bacony bits that are stuck to the bottom). Add the broccoli and the rest of the chicken stock. Bring to a gentle simmer (it might be difficult to see the stock simmering under all of that broccoli, but give it your best effort). Cover and let simmer until the broccoli are tender (about 15 minutes, but you might want to check around 10 and then it might be more like 20… it all depends on your pot and flame).

Once the broccoli is tender, use a stick blender to puree the heck out of it (be careful not to get scalding hot soup spray come back at you).  Now, if you want to throw one of the sticks of bacon back in and puree that as well, go for it. Keep the heat on low while you finish up the recipe. Note: If you don’t have a stick blender, you can do this in batches in a regular blender. Again, be careful not to overfill so as to avoid burns. Your puree should look slightly disgusting, a bit like this:

Broccoli Puree

In a separate pan, melt the butter. Then, add the flour with a whisking action. Cook until you have a blonde roux. (Don’t let it get brown.) Slowly add the milk to the roux. Continue whisking until you’re sure you have all of the roux blended with the milk. Then, keep whisking the bottom of the pan because I guarantee that you missed some. Don’t let the milk boil, but once everything is mixed, slowly pour the milk mixture into the broccoli mixture.

Add the dashes of Tabasco sauce. Stir and heat through. Voila! You have cream of broccoli soup. You can add salt and pepper to taste, but I find that the Tabasco does the trick. If you didn’t puree them into the soup, crumble the bacon strips on the top of each bowl when serving. The final consistency should look more like this:

Cream of Broccoli Soup

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