My elusive search for a great broccoli soup recipe
Last week I hinted that when I tasted a tiny sample of the cheesy white sauce for the scalloped potatoes I was making, I was near ecstasy. The elusive perfect recipe for broccoli-cheese soup that had eluded me for so long was in my sampling spoon.
Why had it taken me so long?
Okay, it is not quite as good as Panera’s or say McAlister’s and nobody’s paying me to say that. Love both those soups and here’s one of many online options if you want to try and copy Panera’s recipe (the use of nutmeg here look interesting).
Over the years I have tried at least 3 broccoli-cheese soup recipes and more wild stabs at making a white sauce and then adding broccoli and cheese, etc., which was hit or miss. Edible and quite tasty, but not to die for. And if you didn’t add the milk or cheese at the right time, gross curdling can result. Just sayin’.
Some attempts. Jennifer Murch over at mamas minutia has a recipe for Cheesy Broccoli Potato Soup which looked great and trustworthy (great Mennonite cook but not the plain kind). Her long long list of recipes on her blog is something I only aspire to. I was intrigued that she also noted problems with curdling when she tried hit or miss to come up with a concoction that always worked. You might want to try hers, link above.
I halved Jennifer’s recipe, but for myself, I didn’t see a reason to put in the chicken broth. Sometimes I have chicken broth, sometimes I don’t, and I didn’t want to be hamstrung by that.
Rabbit trail: I had also worked with a recipe from Marjorie Rohrer, an awesome plain Shenandoah Valley Mennonite cook who used to (I don’t know if she still does, but there are cooks like that in almost any plain Mennonite community, if you ask around) open her home to groups for special occasion dinners like wedding anniversaries or rehearsal dinners or retirement parties or even (!) the Sorensen Institute for Political Leadership from UVA, who knew?! See link for a small picture of a dinner in her home. Organizations I have worked for have gone to Marjorie’s (or similar) when we wanted a really really good homecooked meal for a small group of 10-40 ish. I could find online tracks of a cookbook by Marjorie but no place they are actually available anymore: a self published volume (or two?) called Country Home Cooking by Marjorie Rohrer Shank (2006, Spiral). Anyone know where one can be found? (Another Shenandoah Valley blogger shared one recipe to use up an abundance of garden cabbage in season, from Marjorie’s book, which looks interesting too!)
End of that rabbit trail.
Anyway, Marjorie’s recipe for Creamy Broccoli Soup (my copy is handwritten in her hand and photocopied) called for a quart of chopped broccoli, 5 cups milk and 2 ½ cups water and l lb. cubed Velveeta cheese (in addition to others things) so I’m not sure I ever actually made it verbatim but I certainly used it as the basis for adaptations in greatly reduced proportions (with cheddar cheese swapped in for the Velveeta). It called for 1 Tb. chicken base which I’ve never purchased but it must add the same idea as chicken broth.
All of that said, here’s my very own latest successful soup recipe for Cheesy- Broccoli Soup, adapted from the recipe for the cheesy white sauce for Scalloped Potatoes I shared last week.
Cheesy-Broccoli Soup base (you can easily half this recipe)
Based on Thelma Maust’s Scalloped Potato recipe in Mennonite Recipes from the Shenandoah Valley
6 Tablespoons butter
6 Tablespoons flour
1 ½ teaspoons salt
3 cups milk
1 ½ cup sharp cheese, grated
1 cup chopped and cooked broccoli
In saucepan, melt butter. Blend in flour and salt. Gradually heat, stirring in milk. Stir frequently, and keep stirring (!) as sauce thickens and becomes smooth. Add cheese, stirring, (it can scorch easily with all that milk).
Add cooked broccoli pieces. Heat through and serve.
More goodies in the soup: you can also add bits of chopped onion (sautéed or just added in), chopped carrots, cauliflower, potatoes (all of these cooked before you add them), more cheese, different cheeses, crumbled bacon, as desired.
Do you have a really good broccoli soup recipe (share link) of any description? I’d love to hear about more.
What is your most recent pleasant cooking surprise?
For another really great, comprehensive Mennonite recipe book from the Shenandoah Valley, don’t forget about Mennonite Country-Style Recipes and Kitchen Secrets: The Prize Collection of a Shenandoah Valley Cook, by Esther H. Shank, available here.