Yesterday I asked readers to help me make a soup using only the ingredients I had on hand. Mrs Nix, writer of the the blog The 1:29 Project, came up with a creamy broccoli soup that helped me use up a head of broccoli that had become too soft and floppy to stir-fry. Hooray! Here are her directions, interspersed with my pictures and comments on the process.
Broccoli Cream-ish Soup (Vegan, of course)
Since we’re making this up, I’m not gonna try measurements. I think you can totally do it by ear.
Make a gravy/roux-ish base by putting some oil (preferably EVOO) and Smart Balance in a high-sided skillet or similarly-functional pan over medium heat. Be generous with these fats because they will be the texture base for the soup. We don’t want like a deep-fry situation going here, but use more than 2T, you know what I mean?
(I used canola oil and Smart Balance margarine in equal parts, because that’s what I had on hand. I didn’t measure any ingredients, but I think I had about 3-4 T)
Once the fats are melted together, throw in lots of garlic and onion, chopped your favorite way. Do NOT raise the heat. Be patient and let them soften up and really infuse with the oil. Add salt, pepper, and a dash of cumin.
(I used about 4 large cloves of garlic and 1/3 of an onion. My favorite way of chopping them, by the way, is with a double mezzaluna: 2 curved blades side by side that chop quickly when rocked back and forth on a curved board. The cumin is something I wouldn’t have thought to add to this recipe, but I quite liked the effect! While the garlic and onion were simmering, I chopped up the head of broccoli in very small pieces.)
(I mentioned that part of the reason I wanted to make this soup was that I wanted the challenge of making a roux, which I watched my mother do all the time as a child, but haven’t tried more than once or twice myself. Here’s a photo with about half the flour added. I used unbleached flour, not whole wheat, because it’s a little smoother.)
At the VERY FIRST sign of browning flour (and I mean immediately), add water until you see the volume raise to about the amount of soup you’re trying to make. Whisk like mad and bring the heat up to a boil. It will begin to thicken like a gravy. Remove from heat when you reach ideal thickness and taste. Add white vinegar and/or more salt/pepper/cumin according to your taste. This should be a slightly thick white sauce of sorts, and the only thing you’re adding from this point is the broccoli, so the goal is to make it flavorful with a bit of a tang.
(I was surprised at just how thick the “gravy” turned out to be. I ended up adding quite a bit of water as I went along, because it kept thickening. The vinegar at this stage was another ingredient I wouldn’t have imagined, but it did give a pleasant tang to the soup, reminiscent of cheese! I’ll definitely use this trick from now on.)
Throw in a crap-ton of just-tender chopped up broccoli flourettes that you’ve steamed in a basket while you were doing the other stuff or in the microwave. Use an immersion blender if you have one to smooth it out. Otherwise, use a food processor or blender.
(I don’t have a steamer or a microwave, but I simmered the broccoli in a shallow pan with a a touch of water, and added the broccoli water to the soup as well. I let it all cook together for about half an hour, then took it off to cool before blending, since I don’t have an immersion blender either. *sigh* After running the soup through the blender, I returned it to the pan to warm before eating. It was delicious and filling.)