A few weeks ago, a friend messaged me asking for advice on a broccoli cheese soup that was misbehaving: the darned cheese would not play nicely with the broth. I froze. I knew exactly what was happening, but had no idea how to help; I don’t often make broccoli cheese soup, and the last one I remember making had done the same thing. I started researching recipes online. I started wondering why I didn’t make broccoli cheese soup more often. I mean, really, it doesn’t make any sense. I love soup, make it maybe too frquently (if there’s such a thing) during the fall and winter months, and I love broccoli, and I love cheese. Win, win, win! So I decided to make one as soon as possible.
Of course, I had to put a twist on things, but this time it was primarily to avoid grocery shopping. I meal plan and shop once a week, and I try to be strict about not running to the store for “just a few things” midweek, because I can never get just a few things. Ever. So, I checked the fridge, and it was worrisome: I had no broccoli crowns, fresh or frozen, no cream, not even whole milk. But… I had some ingredients on-hand I thought I could make work, and oh boy, did they work. I used a head of Romanesco broccoli (we like to call it Math for Dinner, since it looks like fractals) roasted with garlic and an extra-super-duper sharp white cheddar cheese. I don’t know that my soup resembled any broccoli cheese soup I have ever had, and someone craving a traditional version may have wrinkled his or her nose at a bowl of my soup, but it was tasty. Hearty and complex and very exotic, somehow. The recipe looks simple, and it is, but you could impress your mother-in-law with this one. You might just need to make it to see what I mean.
Romanesco Broccoli Soup with Sharp White Cheddar (serves 2-3)
- 1 medium head of Romanesco broccoli (about 2 cups)
- 4-6 cloves of garlic, peeled and left whole
- olive oil
- salt & pepper
- 1 T. flour
- 3 c. chicken broth
- 1/4 c. grated sharp white cheddar
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Break off thumb-sized florets of Romanesco, or chop into pieces of this size; use the stem if desired (I do). In a bowl, toss the Romanesco pieces and garlic cloves with olive oil, just to coat, and salt & pepper. Spread in a single layer on a sheet pan and roast for 30 minutes. Transfer everything from the sheet pan into a soup pot on medium heat; sprinkle with flour and stir to coat pieces evenly. Cook, stirring, for 1 minute to avoid the flavor of raw flour in your soup. Add broth; bring to a boil and reduce heat to a simmer. Cook for 15 minutes or until broccoli and garlic are tender. Process using an immersion blender (or blender or food processor) until smooth*. Remove from heat and add cheddar cheese, stirring to melt. Season with additional salt & pepper, if desired.
*I like some texture in my soup, so I removed about 1/2 c. of Romanesco pieces before blending the soup, then added them back into the pot.