I love soup. And this is just the right time of year for it. Well, I could really eat soup all year round but it is just much more fitting in the fall and winter rather than the dog days of summer. I made this lightened broccoli and cheddar soup last year and it was a great combination of broccoli, cheese and creaminess...just without the cream. Instead, Cook's Illustrated found that they could lighten the soup by using leeks (which are pureed to give a silky texture) and fat-free evaporated milk which makes it thick and creamy. Genius! Make sure you use high-quality cheddar cheese, which is important for the whole "less is more" idea. Such a good soup that I had to make it again this year.
The one mistake I made was that I added an extra cup of water before pureeing because I thought it looked too thick. This made the pureed soup a little too thin for me so I would suggest pureeing it first and then adding water or broth as needed. I only do a light puree because we like a little extra texture to our soup.
This broccoli and cheddar soup was served alongside a salad and toasted French baguette slices, making it a simple but filling meal for us (the toast was excellent for dipping in the soup!). Next time, I might try making bread bowls for it, too!
Lightened Broccoli & Cheddar Soup
Taken from: America’s Test Kitchen: Light & Healthy 2010 (an excellent cookbook)
Serves 4-6 (ATK calculated 255 calories/serving for 5 servings)
- 1 bunch broccoli (about 1 ½ pounds), florets cut into 1-inch pieces, stems trimmed and sliced 1/4 inch thick, divided use
- 1 pound leeks, white and light green parts only, halved lengthwise, sliced thin, and rinsed thoroughly
- 2 teaspoons canola oil
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
- 1 cup water
- ¾ cup fat-free evaporated milk (see note)
- 1/2 - 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 4 ounces extra-sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (about 1 cup)
- Salt and pepper
- Extra shredded cheddar cheese (optional)
- Combine the broccoli stems, leeks, oil, and 1/8 teaspoon salt in a large pot or Dutch oven. Cover and cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are just beginning to soften, 6 to 8 minutes. Uncover, stir in the garlic, and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
- Stir in the broth and water and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Cover, reduce the heat to medium-low, and cook until the broccoli stems are softened, about 8 minutes. Add the broccoli florets, cover, and continue to cook until tender, about 5 minutes longer.
- Working in 2 batches, process the broccoli mixture in a blender until smooth, about 1 minute (we like our soup chunkier so I only pulse the first batch and puree the second). Transfer the broccoli mixture to a clean Dutch oven, whisk in the evaporated milk and mustard, and warm over low heat until very hot.
- Off the heat, whisk in the cheese, one handful at a time, until the cheese is melted and the soup is smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Top bowls with extra shredded cheddar cheese (optional).
- When reheating, make sure to not bring the soup to a boil.