The broccoli belongs to the cauliflower family. It was never available in India those days, until recently, when broccoli began being sold in the markets. Of course, they aren’t half as fresh as the ones we get here. I was digging into my freezer trying to clear it out and I found a small packet of frozen broccoli stems (I had finished all the heads) and some corn kernels that needed to be finished. Now, the stems are something that one would discard after using the heads. But I recall saving them for a particular dish – Cream of Broccoli soup. Of course, this requires broccoli heads too, but I had to manage with the stems and whatever I had.
Here’s what you’ll need:
1. Broccoli – heads and stems, about 2 cups. But I used just the leftover stems.
2. Potato – medium sized, 1 number. You will not need a potato for this dish if you have enough broccoli. I used this to bring some consistency to the soup. You can throw in half a potato if you still want some rich thickness to the soup.
3. Onion – 1 big if you are using lots of broccoli. I used just half an onion. You don’t want the onion to overpower the broccoli flavour.
4. Garlic – 3 cloves. Do not exceed this number or your soup will taste only of garlic.
5. Corn kernels – I just wanted to finish this so I could open my new packet. S and I usually snack on steamed corn.
6. Olive Oil, Nutmeg powder, White Pepper.
7. Butter – 2 tablespoons
8. All purpose white flour – 2 tablespoons
9. Low fat milk – 500 ml
Here’s what I did:
1. Coarsely chop the onions and potato
2. In a saucepan, heat some olive oil and lightly sauté the onions and garlic making sure you don’t roast them too much
3. Fill the pan with about 5 cups of water, toss in the potato, broccoli, corn and a pinch of salt
4. Cook this well till the vegetables get soft and mushy. Allow it to cool and blend it well.
5. In another saucepan, begin melting the butter. Add the flour and keep stirring it. You will see lumps forming; continue stirring till the mixture turns creamy and thick.
6. At this point, add the milk and continue stirring it constantly.
7. When the mixture thickens, turn off the heat and set this aside. This mixture is the white sauce that is the base for all white soups. I make several kinds of soup with this as the base. The proportion varies of course. To make thick sauces, you can reduce the milk quantity. This is the base for many homemade pasta sauces too. Upon cooling, this mixture gets thicker and somewhat lumpy. But don’t worry, it is going to be reheated with the vegetable broth and blend.
8. Add the blended vegetables and broth to this sauce, stir well and cook on low heat. Check the consistency and add water if it is too thick.
9. Add about 1/4th of a teaspoon of nutmeg powder, some salt and white pepper according to your taste, and bring to a boil making sure there are no lumps. Sprinkle some fresh ground pepper and serve hot with garlic bread, and if you’re brave-hearted, sprinkle some cheese on the top.
I have previously made clear soup, pasta soup, French onion and mushroom soup for S. This isn’t quite the ultimate cream of broccoli because I had to manage with leftover stems. That’s why I added the potato to bring in some consistency to the soup and that’s also why the soup isn’t as green as it is supposed to be.
I’ll probably ask mum to publish her famous tomato soup recipe, she makes the best tomato soup that I must have enjoyed a million times as a kid. It’s a favourite in our entire family and extended family, and every time anyone is slightly sick, they beg for mum’s tomato soup. I’m glad I’ve got her great cooking genes. Yay!