phynedyning

Broccoli-Cheese Soup au Dijon

In Recipies on November 12, 2012 at 10:31 am

Cold weather has settled in earnest in America’s Ukraine (Iowa) and that means hearty soups and crusty breads will feature on the Phyne Dyner’s table.

My favorite cooking shows are those having hosts who encourage their viewers to improvise on their featured recipe. Chefs Jacques Pepin and Chris Koetke are masters at encouraging home cooks to make dishes “their own”.

Chef Koetke

I have done that with Koetke’s version of broccoli-cheese soup.

I’ve been a huge fan of broccoli-cheese soup and I would have continued making it as I had for nearly forty years if not for encountering Chef Koetke’s version on his Live Well Network show, Let’s Dish! My result was always good, but Chef Koetke encouraged his viewers to improve on “good” by cooking the broccoli to a level of doneness that many chefs would consider ‘over done’. Koetke asserts that cooking broccoli thoroughly brings out its nutty flavors.

I was intrigued and hooked on the idea and gave it a try. It worked!

The result was an extraordinarily velvety soup that was (uncharacteristically) ‘un-cheesy’.

Many cheese soups are over-wrought with cheese flavors, particularly those using mild vegetables like cauliflower, asparagus, or broccoli. Cooking the broccoli to maximum doneness really brings out its flavors and adds a whole dimension to its flavor profile.

It also compliments the bold flavor of added Dijon mustard.

Many southern cooks add Dijon mustard to their versions of broccoli-cheese soup. But, with the otherwise mild flavor of the broccoli, the result is often simply too “cream of mustard”. That problem was also solved by thoroughly cooking the broccoli first.

The following is my version of Chef Koetke’s improved broccoli-cheese soup. So, enjoy!

You will need:

3 lb (approx) broccoli crowns, finely chopped

½ yellow onion, minced

1 TBS brandy or cognac (optional)

1 bunch green onions, minced

1 large clove garlic, minced

1 stick unsalted butter, cut into pieces

2 – 3 TBS flour

½ tsp ground white pepper

1 TBS coarse-grained Dijon mustard

1 tsp fresh thyme leaves (or ½ tsp dried)

3 C low sodium chicken (or vegetable) broth

1 ¼ C shredded sharp cheddar

1 C half and half (or ½ C heavy cream)

pinch kosher salt

freshly ground black pepper

Melt the butter in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion (yellow and green) and garlic. Sprinkle a pinch of kosher salt over the vegetables as they cook. Cook until ‘sweated’ and the onion is just soft and translucent, but not yet golden. Add the brandy or cognac, if using. Stir in the chopped broccoli and reduce the heat to low-medium. Stir to combine flavors and cover. Cook for about 40 minutes, stirring frequently. Do not allow the broccoli to scorch! Sprinkle the flour, in batches, over the vegetable mixture and stir well. Add the white pepper and thyme leaves and stir. Cook until fragrant. Add in the mustard, broth, and cheese. Cook until the cheese melts and the soup thickens a bit. Whisk in the half-and-half (or heavy cream). Just before service, use a stick (immersion) blender to slightly blend the soup to a creamy consistency, leaving some pieces of broccoli intact. If you use an upright blender or food processor for this step (in batches), allow the soup to cool before blending. Then, re-heat the soup. Season with salt and pepper.

Serve with lots of crusty bread.

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