Monday, October 16, 2006

Creamy Broccoli Soup

I have been thinking a lot about something Amanda Hesser wrote about in "Cooking for Mr. Latte". The book is a collection of food columns from New York Times magazine. They were published around 2001-2002 and my mother and I were devoted to the column. It was maybe the first time I got interested in food.

In "Cooking for Mr. Latte", Ms Hesser writes about wanting to have a cooking repertoire, instead of always having cooking experiments. This got me thinking about what my repertoire. Since I make this soup about once a month, I think it would have to be included.

Although this soup takes a while, there is little actual prep - you just need to keep an eye on it while it cooks. I often make this on a Friday night if I am hanging out at home. The technique is a modification of the Joy of Cooking recipe. I like to add the beans to make the soup taste creamier.

Creamy Broccoli Soup
large bunch of Broccoli, about two stalks
1/2 cup dry white kidney beans (I think this is about 1/2 a 16oz can, but there are no small cans at the my supermarket, and I don't want the bean taste to be over powering.)
2-3 cups chicken stock
1-2 cups water
1 cup milk
3 tbsp skim milk powder (optional)
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp butter
1/2 spanish onion
2 cloves garlic

1. Soak the beans. I do this either the night before, or the morning I make the soup. I use the joy of cooking method to soak the beans: I pour a couple inches of boilling water over them and let them sit until it is time to make the soup.

2. Put the oil and butter in a large pot over medium heat. While the oil and butter are warming up, finely chop the onion, then add to the pot. Chop the garlic, and when the onion is translucent and soft add the garlic and fry for about a minute.

3. Drain the beans (they should be about double in size now) and add to the onion mixture. Cover the beans with the stock and water so they are submerged about an inch or so. Simmer the beans about an hour and a half, stirring occasionally until they are over-cooked and squishy.

4. Cut the woody ends off the broccoli stalks. Thinly slice the remaining stocks and broccoli tops and add to the beans. Cook until the broccoli is softened, 10-15mins. Then puree the soup using your kitchen tool of choice. (I use a blender).

5. Return the blended soup to the pot, add the milk and if you are using it, the skim milk powder. I like to use the skim milk power because it adds extra calcium.

This soup goes very nicely with whole grain toast.

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