I don’t remember my mom making soup from scratch when I was a kid. It was usually an out-of-the-can easy meal with grilled cheese or for me grilled peanut butter and jelly. (I had cheese issues for years, I’m now making up for lost time.)
Thankfully, culinary school and the subsequent career taught me all I wanted to know about soup because soup from a can is not something that I recommend eating.
Most soup from a can gives soup a bad name. I know it’s an easy and almost healthy option. But, making a blended vegetable soup takes little hands on time, you will eat more vegetables and it will taste better.
The best part about making a blended soup is that you don’t have to worry about cutting up the vegetables with any skill or technique. It is an easy way to cook from scratch without all the prep work that comes with cooking.
You get to use my favorite kitchen appliance, the immersion hand blender. An immersion blender doesn’t dirty any extra dishes except the blade that does the cutting. You just turn off the heat and dunk it in your pot and go. (Be careful about keeping the blade under the surface of the food.) This is my all time favorite kitchen appliance that you can use for almost anything that you would use a traditional blender for. If you are a minimalist this is the one gadget I recommend owning.
Flour is the usual thickener in cream of broccoli soup, and I know what most people think about wheat these days, so I have included a substitution to make the soup gluten-free. Thickening the soup with parsnips or potatoes will add a creamy texture to the soup that resembles the effect of flour.
The critical factor to consider when you make a blended vegetable soup is to use less liquid in the beginning. When you blend the soup is will be overly thick. Then add as much water as you desire afterward. This way, you make the soup the consistency that you like.
The overall technique to make this soup can be duplicated with different vegetables to make other soups with the same style. That is why the gluten-free version, isn’t a separate recipe. It’s an adaptation of a basic “blended vegetable soup” template.
Cooking is a mastery of skills that you can apply to different foods and dishes, not just an ability to read and follow a recipe.
Cream of Broccoli Soup
1 medium onion, washed and chopped
4–6 cups of broccoli, including stocks and leaves, coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons butter
½ teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons flour (2 small potatoes or parsnips, peeled and chopped, about 1.5 cups)
2.5–3 cups water
½ cup half and half
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese (optional)
In a large saucepan, cook the onion, broccoli, butter, thyme, and salt over medium heat for 2–3 minutes. Lower the temperature to low and add the flour (or potatoes/parsnips) and stir until for 20–30 seconds. Add water, to just barely cover the vegetables, about 2 cups, increase the heat to high, bring to a boil, stir well, then reduce the heat to medium-low, let simmer for 15–20 minutes, occasionally stirring until the broccoli is soft. Remove from the heat and blend with an immersion blender. Stir in the half and half, and adjust the consistency if desired by adding a little bit of water. Taste for salt and pepper and add if needed. Ladle into serving bowls, top with the Parmesan cheese if desired and serve. The next day, this soup is even better reheated.
Julie Moreno is a chef and writer, now trying to get more people to cook their own food and understand where it comes from. She lives in the middle of California, where she’s learning to landscape with fruits and vegetables. Find her blog at The Wooden Cutting Board on Twitter @juliehouse and Facebook @thewoodencuttingboard