After months of infrequent rain showers, we’re finally getting a deluge of rain, and it’s to soups that I’ve been turning to stave off the chill. When I saw the recipe for Cream of Broccoli soup in the April issue of Everyday Food, I knew it would be a good use for the head of broccoli that had been in the refrigerator for, well, let’s just leave it at too long. Unlike the many cream soups that get their creaminess from a generous dousing of cream, sour cream or even mascarpone, this soup’s creamy texture comes from using a roux (and a little bit of heavy cream).
A roux is mixture of equal parts of flour and fat, oftentimes butter, that is briefly cooked before being added to broth or milk. The roux thickens the liquid with which it’s combined and adds depth of flavor. Rouxs are commonly used to thicken classical French sauces (think béchamel and bordelaise), New England clam chowder and Creole dishes such as gumbo. If the idea of making a roux is intimidating, don’t worry: the hardest part is knowing how to pronounce it (“roo”). This soup offers a simple way to experience firsthand how flour and butter can thicken broth, and in no time at all, you’ll have conquered the roux and added another technique to your cooking toolbox.
Recipe adapted from Everyday Food, April 2012.
In my version of Cream of Broccoli soup, I’ve added green peas. Feel free to use all broccoli or throw in any other vegetables you have waiting to be used.
¼ cup (½ stick) butter
1 medium yellow onion, diced
¼ cup all purpose flour
4 cups chicken or turkey broth
1 cup water
12 oz. broccoli
4 oz. (scant 1 cup) frozen green peas, defrosted
¼ cup heavy cream
freshly ground black pepper
Make the Cream of Broccoli and Green Pea Soup
Melt the butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add the diced onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is soft and translucent, about 8 minutes. Add the flour and stir to coat the onions and cook the flour, about 1 minute. Cooking the flour before adding the liquid removes the raw taste of the flour. Pour the broth and water into the pot and stir to incorporate. Simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Meanwhile, cut the broccoli into florets and the stem into 1-inch chunks. Add the broccoli and peas to the simmering broth and cook uncovered for 20 minutes or until broccoli is tender.
Using an immersion blender, carefully blend the hot soup in the pot to a smooth consistency. Alternatively, puree the soup in a blender (puree soup in small batches, filling blender only halfway) and return to the pot. Stir in the heavy cream and season to taste with salt and pepper.