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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.