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Between Wednesday and Friday of last week, I’d cooked three separate and distinct meals (one of which was the Coconut Pork Salad below)… and so had various and sundry little containers of meat and vegetables I knew I’d make into a hefty salad come Saturday night when we had planned to splurge a little on an amazon prime movie to belatedly catch “Victoria and Abdul.” (Don’t miss it if you haven’t seen it!) When I visually weighed those leftovers, an accompanying bowl of soup was an obvious necessity.

While I, like many, enjoy nothing better than a soft, thick buttery pot of broccoli-cheese soup (I recently watched people choose a store-bought version of it over homemade Vegetable Beef at a dinner, so know I’m not alone. I do wonder exactly what’s in it?), health held reason and I instead made a “cream” of broccoli soup. Surely there was enough fat and protein in the salad. So no tender silky heavy cream at 50 fat calories per tablespoon, no half-pound of nearly-too-sharp Vermont cheddar patiently grated, not even a cup of milk, but just the soup, please.  Which basically means only vegetables.  Or just about. Ok, I did top it off with a little sour cream and toasted almonds for a soupçon of sweet decadence and to introduce interest to the texture.

You might think of this soup as a stand-in for more chompy green January-get-fit salad (raise one eyebrow as you chew for another #sigh 20 minutes, but read this article about how salads make you smarter and younger by 11 years), though infinitely more comforting on a chilly winter night.  I had the inexpensive soup cooked, blended, and in bowls within 45 minutes.  Meanwhile, I had time to slice leftover meat, chop a few tomatoes, kalamata olives, and an avocado for our dinner salad. After whisking together a garlicky-spicy vinaigrette (“recipe” below), we were soon ferrying plates down the stairs to enjoy Judy Dench and Ali Fazal’s fascinating film with our dinner on trays. If the dogs let us on a couch, that is.

Tucker and Rosie in family room. Older photo, but things are still the same.

Try this for Meatless Mondays  (naturally gluten-free and easily vegan/vegetarian) or any day you’d like something filling, but healthy with lots of leftovers for lunch:

BROCCOLI SOUP WITH SOUR CREAM AND TOASTED ALMONDS

6 servings

No need to chop the vegetables perfectly or to a certain size as they’ll all be blended in the end for this puréed soup. You can throw them into the food processor for a whirr and have your soup bubbling quickly. My soup thickened nicely with only the potato, but if yours doesn’t I include instructions for a beurre manié (kneaded butter and flour). Vegan/Vegetarian substitutions in green parenthesis. 

  • 2 tablespoons salted butter (olive oil)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/8 teaspoon Aleppo pepper or a bit less crushed red pepper
  • 2 teaspoons dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon dried dill
  • 2 leeks, white and light green parts only, sliced thinly
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 each:  peeled carrots and stalks of celery, sliced
  • Handful of fresh, chopped parsley
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 2 cups water
  • 4 cups (32 ounces) low sodium chicken broth (vegetable broth)
  • 1 pound broccoli florets– about 2 cups or 4 stalks trimmed and chopped
  • 1 large potato, peeled and diced
  • 1/2 cup sour cream for garnish (use soy yogurt or make vegan sour cream)
  • 1/2 cup toasted almonds for garnish

Heat oil, Aleppo pepper, thyme, and dill over medium-high heat for a minute or so in an 8-quart soup pot. Stir in leeks, onion, carrots, celery, and parsley; season with salt and pepper. Sauté, stirring until softened, for 8 minutes or so, adding garlic for the last minute.  Add white wine; bring to a simmer for 2-3 minutes until wine is reduced.  Pour in water and broth; raise heat and bring to a boil.  Tip in broccoli and potato.  Reduce heat a bit, cover partially, and simmer until everything is very tender, 15-20 minutes.  Purée to desired thickness and texture using a hand-held immersion blender or carefully in batches in the food processor or blender. (Towel held firmly over blender top.) If soup is too thick, add a bit more water or broth. Too thin? Blend a tablespoon or two of soft butter (buerre manié) into an equal amount of flour and stir into soup; let simmer only briefly until thicker. Taste and adjust seasonings. Serve hot garnished with a dollop of sour cream and a sprinkling of toasted almonds.

{printable recipe}

Wine:  White Burgundy or Oregon Chardonnay (I like Bethel Heights)

Alyce’s Garlicky-Spicy Vinaigrette:  Pour 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar (splurge on the best quality you can afford such as Fini) and a finely minced clove of plump, fresh garlic into the bottom of your salad bowl. (Remove green sprout if necessary.) Add a good pinch each of kosher salt, freshly ground pepper, and crushed red pepper and let it rest a few minutes to melt the salt.  Whisk in a well-rounded tablespoon or so of Dijon-style mustard.  Slowly drizzle in, whisking all the time, about 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil until the vinaigrette comes together or emulsifies. Taste a bit on a lettuce leaf or other vegetable and adjust seasonings.  Makes enough to coat a hefty salad for 2-3.  (Do season the greens and vegetables, too, before tossing the them with the dressing.)

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IF YOU LIKED THIS, YOU MIGHT LIKE MY

Chicken-Pimento Cheese Patty Melts and Grilled Broccoli with Sriracha Sour Cream

or my Broccoli Soup with Toasted Brie

This is an old post from 2012 needing new photos, but the recipe–one from my soup cookbook–continues to be happily and tastily worth making.

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New favorite snack below:

And, no, I don’t work for these folks. (I don’t do endorsements, etc.) Not terribly cheap, ($9.99 per 9.5 ounce bag at COSTCO) but these are 100% cheese–not potato chips or corn puffs with a cheese coating.  150 calories for 23 crisps.  13 grams protein. 1 gram carbohydrate. I eat about 2 or 3 at a time.  I ordered some from amazon to send to a friend for Christmas to take along on a car trip and go with some wine I’d shipped her; turns out they’re made in other flavors, too, much as Cheddar or Asiago-Pepperjack, which I haven’t tried. I haven’t seen any of them at our local grocery store, but will keep looking as I’d like to see what the other varieties are like.

Thanks for spending more time at the table and for cooking at home to keep yourself happy, healthy, wealthy, and wise in 2018 as you…

Sing a new song this MLK day,

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Alyce