Friday, November 11, 2011

Broccoli Cheddar Soup

So I've gotten into homemade soups lately.  Could be the 10 degree weather, but it could also be the fact that I think they taste so much better than the kind you can get in a can (and I can't easily buy Campbell's here).  One of my friend's husbands made Cream of Mushroom soup from scratch and I will have to tackle that next.  It was fantastic.  Of course I found out later he put a ton of butter and cream in there, but that was about 2 years ago so those calories have long since been burned off.

After the success of my potato soup, I thought I'd try this broccoli one (and an excuse to go to the Coop in Dietikon - I discovered they sell A&W Root beer over by the magazines for only 1.50. Fantastic!)

The only thing I would change is to use fresh broccoli and chop it up just a little bit smaller.  You can also puree it if you prefer, but I like the chunks.  (Oh - and yes that is another 4 pack of flour in the background.  It was on sale again and there's lots of cooking and baking to do in the coming weeks even if it does have to live on my counter for a while)

What you need:
2 cups chicken broth
1 small/medium onion - diced
1/3 cup flour
50g butter
salt and pepper to taste
2 cups milk (no you don't have to use the skim milk and I'm considering using vollrahm to take place of some of the milk to make it a bit thicker - or maybe add a bit more flour)
2 cups shredded cheddar (I bought 300g and used the majority of it)
1 bag of frozen broccoli or 2 heads of fresh

Measure out your milk and let it sit while you prepare everything so it gets to room temperature

Chop your broccoli finely (depending if you want chunks or a puree). If frozen, put it in the microwave for about 3 minutes, stir and cook another couple.

Put the chicken broth and chopped onions in a small pot and simmer about 20 minutes so that the onions are tender.

About 15 minutes into the onions cooking, put the butter in another dish deep enough for all the liquids and let it melt over medium. Add the flour in and whisk constantly for a minute.  If your heat is too high you will get a dark brown mess on the bottom of your pan and have to start again.

Add in the milk and cook until it begins to thicken stirring occasionally (about 5-10 minutes)

Add the chicken broth/onions and mix well.  Add your cheese and mix for a minute or two.  Add in the broccoli.  If you want it chunky, you are done, otherwise, using an immersion blender, carefully blend (off the heat) and then put it back on.  After everything was put together, I put the lid on, turned it down to low and let it simmer for another 30 min. (was waiting for hubby).  Got tired of waiting so ate mine, and when he had his an hour later it was still perfectly hot and blended. So this is a great dish if everyone can't eat at the same time.

For the bread bowls:

Buy a bread roll in whichever size you would like (large for main course, small for a side).

Cut the top off the bread and carefully scoop out the bread inside, making sure to leave the bread at least 1/4 inch thick so your soup doesn't run out the side.

Rub a little olive oil inside the bread and on the bottom outside and place on a baking sheet in the oven at about 100 C.  Put it in when you start and take it out when you are ready to eat.  (If other people are eating later, make sure to turn the oven down lower so your bread doesn't turn into a rock)

When ready to eat, put the soup in the bowl and grate a little more cheese on top.  Enjoy!

This is my slightly adapted version.  The original can be found here

Artichoke Spinach Dip - yum!

Okay, so there are tons of variations on artichoke spinach dip.  Personally, I like the ones that are in bread bowls since you can then eat the bread when the dip is gone.  I didn't have a bread roll available when I was craving the dip though, so I just made it in a baking dish.  I will have to try that next time though as I already have a few things I'd like to tweak.  That's not to say it wasn't good - hubby really enjoyed it right out of the oven.  I liked it better when it had cooled to room temperature, and it was also good the next day right out of the fridge.

So use this as a starter, and add more or less of what you like and don't as much. Simple :-)

What you need:
1/2 - 1 bag of frozen spinach (depending on how much spinach you like)
1 jar of artichoke hearts (I used a 285g jar)
1 container of sour cream
1-2 cloves garlic
cream cheese
2- 3 cups  grated cheese (parmesan + whatever else you'd like)

Turn the oven on to 180 C

In a bowl, combine the spinach (thawed and water squeezed out).  Drain the artichoke hearts (I like to rinse them as well but you don't have to) and then chop them up.  Add them to the spinach and mix.

Stir in the sour cream, 1/2 of your cream cheese container and about 1/3 of a cup of mayonnaise. Mix well.

Add the grated cheese and 1-2 cloves of minced garlic.

If the consistency is OK,sprinkle some cheese on top and put it in the oven, otherwise add the rest of your cream cheese, mix again and then place in the oven and bake for 30 minutes.

Serve with bread (if making a bread bowl, save the bread and bake it for a few minutes) or baked tortilla strips.  Enjoy right out of the oven or prepare ahead of time and warm up in the microwave.