Only six days into January, I miss the sun, the holiday season, and the warmth both bring. If my experiences on the roadways and waiting in line at the store are any indication, the “goodwill to men” theme held so dear in December was put to bed right along with 2012. The frantic pace of work responsibilities, keeping up with “to do” lists and all that other, dare I say it, junk has too soon clouded the importance of family, friends and living life in the real and present moment.
Of course we need jobs to pay our bills, and keeping up with chores like laundry ensures we have clean clothes to wear to those jobs, but there is a balance to be had in there somewhere. It is often difficult for me to relish what I was able to do in a day when compared to what remains to be done. I started off by saying I miss the sun, and it is 100 percent truth that I am ready for spring. Yet there are months of winter ahead, so I intend to do my best to slow down and enjoy each day, dreary and sunny alike.
So far as I recall, my aversion to winter runs much deeper than any I ever had towards broccoli. As long as the broccoli was accompanied by cheese that is. Plain broccoli is no better than a winter without a snowfall. If it is going to happen, it may as well get dolled up with a little cheese or flurries, respectively.
Broccoli soup, either a creamy or a cheddar version, is something I regularly order when out to lunch, but until a giant bag of broccoli I bought at Costco reached a must-use-now state, it was simply not something I considered making at home. Fortunately, it is rather simple and lends itself to plenty of variations through cheese and seasonings.
I spiced my cream of broccoli soup with cayenne pepper and used a mixture of Colby jack and pepper jack cheeses. If the heat of the cayenne or pepper cheese is too much for your tastes, simply season with salt and pepper and substitute shredded cheddar for a more traditional soup. I topped my bowl off with a bit of cheese and bacon and called it a day. Enjoy!
As I did last year, I will post soup recipes each Sunday throughout the month of January until the real Super Bowl offers a reprieve on February 3.
- 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter
- 1 white or yellow onion, finely chopped
- ⅓ cup all-purpose flour
- 4 cups milk (2% or whole)
- 2 cups half-and-half
- 6-8 cups small broccoli florets (from 3 to 4 heads broccoli)
- ⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- salt and pepper, to taste
- 2 cups colby jack cheese
- 1 cup shredded pepper jack cheese
- 2 cups vegetable broth
- Melt the butter in a large pot over medium heat.
- Add the onions and cook until they begin to soften, about three to five minutes.
- Stir the flour into the melted butter and softened onions. Continue to stir constantly until the flour begins to turn light golden brown.
- Once the flour begins to turn colors, whisk in the milk and half-and-half.
- Process half to two-thirds of the broccoli florets in food processor until very finely chopped. Add it along with the broccoli florets that remain whole to the pot.
- Stir in the cayenne pepper and salt and pepper to taste.
- Cover the pot and reduce heat to low.
- Allow to simmer for 20 to 30 minutes or until the broccoli is tender.
- Add the cheese ½ cup at a time, stirring after each addition to melt the cheese.
- Stir in the vegetable broth and reheat to warm if necessary before serving.