Cream of Broccoli (or Cauliflower!)  with Aged Cheddar Soup

(From Soups [Williams Sonoma Kitchen Library, Time-Life, New York, 1993])

 

1 ½ pound broccoli, trimmed and tough stems peeled

½ pound Cheddar cheese, shredded

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

salt and freshly ground white pepper

1 yellow onion, finely chopped

½ teaspoon dried thyme

¼ cup all purpose flour

1 tablespoon lemon juice

5 cups chicken or vegetable stock, heated

2 cups milk   to taste

 

 

Reserve ½ cup small florets from the broccoli.  Coarsely chop the remaining broccoli and set aside.

 

In a large saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat.  Add the onion and sauté until it begins to brown, 5-7 minutes.  Sprinkle in the flour and sauté, stirring, for about 1 minute more.  Whisking continuously, slowly pour in the stock.  Add the chopped broccoli, thyme and lemon juice and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer until the broccoli is very tender, about 20 minutes.

 

About 5 minutes before the broccoli is done, bring a small saucepan filled with water to a boil and lightly salt the water.  Add the reserved florets and simmer until tender-crisp, 3-5 minutes.  Drain and keep warm.

 

In small batches, purée the soup in a food mill, a food processor fitted with the metal blade, in a blender or with a hand-held blender.  Return the purée to the pan, stir in the milk and bring to a simmer over low heat.

 

Reserve a small handful of the cheese and sprinkle the rest into the soup; stir over low heat until the cheese melts and blends in.  Season to taste with salt and white pepper.  Ladle into warmed bowls and garnish with the cooked broccoli florets and reserved cheese.  Serves 6-8.  You can try cauliflower in place of the broccoli if you like.  You can also sauté some bacon and add it with the chopped onion.