Every time I go to the renaissance festival, I always make sure to order broccoli and cheese soup in a bread bowl. It’s still too hot that time of year to enjoy almost boiling soup, finding a place to eat is almost impossible, my hands are covered in animal hair, and the soup isn’t that great — runny with the occasional speck of broccoli. But it’s tradition, so I keep ordering it anyway. A couple weeks ago, I set out to make the broccoli and cheese soup I wish they served at the renfest. It was so good I “forgot” to take photos of it, so I just had to make it again. It’s deliciously rich, creamy, and would be perfect for a bread bowl, but a hunk of crusty bread will do just fine.
I’ve been making lots of soups and stews not just because of the weather, but they also make for such easy leftovers. While you can use a blender or food processor for this recipe, an immersion blender makes this soup much less of a hassle. This recipe calls for an obscene amount of butter, cheese, and milk. Everyone you serve it to will love it, just don’t tell them how much butter is in the soup.
Broccoli and Cheese Soup
1 onion, chopped
1/2 cup butter
4 garlic cloves, diced
1/2 cup flour
4 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1.5 cups water
3 russet potatoes, cut into large chunks
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 tablespoon dried herbs (any or all of the following: thyme, rosemary, red pepper flakes, marjoram, parsley)
salt and pepper, to taste
8 ounces cheddar cheese
1.5 cups milk (add more for a thinner soup)
For serving (optional):
Cheddar cheese, shredded
Bread, lightly toasted
Heat oil in a large stock pot. When hot, add the onions. Cook until the onions are translucent, about 5-7 minutes. Remove onions from the pot and pour into a bowl. Set aside the onions.
Melt butter in the stockpot. Add garlic, and stir for about 30 seconds. Add the flour, mixing constantly until smooth. Start adding the stock, a few tablespoons at a time. Once you’ve gone through the stock, add the water and mix into the pot. Toss in the onions, potatoes, herbs, and nutmeg. Simmer the soup over low heat for about 25-30 minutes, or until the potatoes are cooked through. Stir frequently. Test with a fork to see if the potatoes are ready. When the potatoes are cooked, add the broccoli and cook for about 5-7 minutes. Whip out an immersion blender and blend until desired smoothness. I like leaving some chunks. Return the pot to the stove.
Add the cheddar cheese and milk to the pot. Heat until the cheese has melted through and the soup is hot enough to your liking. Ladle into bowls and serve with extra cheese, crumbled bacon, and with a side of lightly toasted bread.
If you have enough soup for leftovers, it will thicken overnight. Mix in about 1/2 cup of water at a time to achieve desired consistency.