When my kids were growing up, they all loved broccoli.  Pretty unusual.   One of them adored spinach and one of them always wanted pickles, but all of them would eat broccoli.   So broccoli it was.  A lot. To this day, when our youngest, Emily, is home from grad school, she asks for Chicken-Broccoli Casserole (a quick Chicken Divan known as “Government Girl Casserole” around the D.C area) and I don’t have to look for a recipe.


You get the picture:  I seldom make broccoli anymore.  Being a healthy (see below for nutrition information) and relatively inexpensive cruciferous ( a family of plants which have four petals arranged like the arms of a cross, as the mustard, radish, turnip, etc.) vegetable, I know I’d like to buy it more, but some days I just can’t.  I have fallen in love with broccolini (a cross between broccoli and Chinese broccoli) and often sauté it with large shards of Parmesan until the cheese is a golden, crispy chip-like accompaniment.  The Parm-crusted broccolini is then laid gently atop greens and tiny tomatoes with a bit of lemon, black pepper, and olive oil for a filling main-course salad.

Working on the soup cookbook for the past two months (I got an ISBN number yesterday..AHHH!!) has been one of the most positive, annoying, interesting, and P-Offing of all my cooking experiences.  Somehow, the first soup I worked on (can’t remember why) was broccoli.   Too funny.   Maybe I had a plethora in the vegetable bin for some terribly odd reason; I don’t know.  Maybe it was on sale.  Whatever; that soup is out to a couple of testers now, but I’ll share it here with you.  I’ve made it  several times shall we say.    If you make it, I’d enjoy knowing how your soup turned out.   Read this carefully as we’re in the middle of a wretchedly hot summer in the U.S. (unless you’re an Australian or Scot reader):

This soup is luscious hot or cold.  The cold version is served differently:  instead of the brie toasting on top, you put a spoonful of peppered (or you could use lemon peel) yogurt down in the middle of the soup as a surprise to your table mates.  Being sure ahead of time, naturally, everyone eats dairy.  To serve cold, make it early in the morning before the heat of the day claims your kitchen.  Let cool and refrigerate covered until dinnertime.  

Shopping note:  Fine French brie is an expensive, highly caloric treat.  While I’m crazy about it,  I wouldn’t necessarily use it in this soup, though of course you can if you like. (I like my French brie as is.)  Domestic brie, often made in the great state of Wisconsin, is sold for a great deal less and is fine here.  The Whole Foods in St. Paul, for example, sells a good-sized wedge for $2.99–a sale price, but it’s often on sale.  I haven’t checked the Colorado Springs Whole Foods for its availability.  Anyway….

Try the little preview from my soup book and have fun!

This soup is warm and filling without being heavy.  Made with puréedbroccoli and other vegetables, it appears to be a cream soup, but contains no cream. Topped with a slice of brie and slipped under the broiler for a few minutes until toasty, it’s a perfect lunch for guests arriving midday.  Ladled into tiny bowls or cups, hot or cold, it’s a first course for a birthday dinner with the surprise of a tiny spoonful of peppered Greek yogurt hidden in the middle.  While it may take a few minutes past the 30-minute mark, it’s worth it!
Still working on getting a good picture!
Broccoli Soup with Toasted Brie         4-6 servings
·        2 quarts low-salt chicken stock**, heated in microwave or on stove
·        2 T olive oil
·        Crushed red pepper, fresh ground black pepper, and kosher salt
·        2 garlic cloves (one left whole to flavor oil and one chopped for the soup)
·        1 medium onion, peeled, trimmed, and cut into eighths
·        3 stalks celery, trimmed, and cut into 2” pieces
·        2 carrots,  trimmed, and cut into 1” pieces
·        ½ cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
·        1½ t herbes de Provence (or a mix of dried basil, thyme and rosemary)
·        5 cups fresh broccoli, trimmed well, and chopped finely*
·        Hot sauce, 4-6 drops, or to taste
·        Zest and juice of one lemon
·        6 1-oz slices of Brie
1.     Heat the chicken stock in the microwave or on the stove. (I like an 8-cup Pyrex measuring cup for the microwave.)
2.     Place the chopped garlic clove, onion, celery, and carrots into a food processor fitted with a steel blade and pulse until chopped coarsely. (Or chop by hand.) 
3.     In an 8-qt stock pot over medium heat, sauté a pinch each of the pepper and salt along with the other whole garlic clove for one minute.  Add the chopped vegetables, stir, and cook covered about five minutes until beginning to soften.
4.     Meantime, preheat the oven broiler.
5.     Add the broccoli, hot stock, hot sauce, ½ t each kosher salt and fresh ground pepper, and lemon zest and juice to the stockpot. Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat a bit, cover, and cook until broccoli is tender, about 10 minutes. Stir once or twice.  Using an immersion blender (or process in batches in food processor), puree the soup.  Taste and adjust seasonings.
6.     Ladle soup into broiler-safe bowls and top each with a piece of Brie cheese.  Place bowls on baking sheet about 4 inches under broiler and broil 3-5 minutes or until cheese is lightly browned. (You could also bake this soup at 350 degrees F for several minutes if you do not have broiler-safe bowls.  Alternately, simply place the cheese in the bottom of the bowl, ladle soup on top, and let sit a couple of minutes to melt cheese.)
     
     Serve hot or let cool, chill covered in refrigerator, and serve cold with a surprise small spoonful of peppered plain Greek yogurt hidden in the middle of each bowl.
*You could also use leftover cooked broccoli here to hasten cooking.
**Use vegetable stock for vegetarian option
Accompaniments:   Midsummer, a small plate of ripe tomatoes and peppered cottage cheese with crackers for lunch.   Add a salad and grilled salt and pepper baguette for supper anytime of the year.
Wine:  I like a California Chardonnay with this soup, but a French Sauvignon Blanc with its grassy nose would also work.
Dessert:  Blueberries and a spoonful of lemon ice cream or sorbet.

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 a few facts about raw broccoli

According to the USDA Nutrient Database, a standard 100 g serving of raw broccoli has 34 calories with .37 g fat, 1.70 g sugars, 6.64 g carbohydrates, 2.6 g dietary fiber and 2.82 g protein. Broccoli also contributes greatly to your daily vitamin and mineral requirements. For example, raw broccoli delivers 89.2 g of vitamin C, which equates to 149 percent of your daily allowance. In its raw state, broccoli provides 9 percent of your daily requirement of potassium and 12 percent vitamin A.

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Every Friday for the foreseeable future, I’ll be blogging one of the 38 healthiest ingredients from POWER FOODS : 150 DELICIOUS RECIPES WITH THE 38 HEALTHIEST INGREDIENTS by the editors of Whole Living Magazine.

38 Power Foods is a group effort!   Stop by these other blogs and see what they’re cooking each week as we team up to bring you some of the healthiest cooking available.

Ansh – SpiceRoots.com  
Jill – SaucyCooks 

Sarah – Everything in the Kitchen Sink
Anabanana – adobodownunder.blogspot.com
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As we go along, I’m guessing we’ll get some other writers involved.  If you’re interested in joining the gang writing each week, get in touch with Mireya from My Healthy Eating Habits:  Mireya@MyHealthyEatingHabits.com

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in memoriam
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One of my great cooking heroes, Marion Cunningham, is now cooking in that great perfect kitchen where the Tupperware bowls and lids all match and the whole world comes to the table in peace to ease their hunger….  Read my tribute to Marion on the Dinner Place Blog.

Bannocks- a simple, flat, oaty, crispy Scottish cracker-bread..from Marion’s BREAKFAST BOOK

Sing a new song; cook something of Marion’s,
Alyce