Finding Recipes

When deciding what to make for dinner, one has a wealth of places to go looking.  Cookbooks are a great start.  I can’t wait to get my hands on this one, the winner of Food 52’s Piglet cookbook showdown, and this one, which I’ve been anticipating for quite some time.  Don’t even get me started on this one.  It may be the very first cookbook I cook from beginning to end.  If you peruse your cookbook collection to no avail, you can turn to magazines, like Cook’s Illustrated or Fine Cooking.  And if that fails, there are 8 billion food blogs out there to satisfy your every need.

But just in case you’ve exhausted all those options, and you’re still sans dinner ideas, there’s one other source that’s never let me down.

The Williams Sonoma catalog.

It’s the one catalog that I always look through.  The one that can’t go to the recycling bin until I’ve had my way with it, which usually means I’ve torn out half the pages.

I don’t know who they have in their kitchens, but those people are good.

I’ve noticed broccoli cheese soup on a lot of blogs lately, but I was wary of making it.  I didn’t want to eat anything that would feel too heavy, or taste too much like something you would order at Applebee’s.

And then, I noticed a recipe for broccoli-cheddar soup in the latest WS catalog. They were using it to hawk this Cuisinart Soup Maker and Blender, but you don’t need one to make soup.  You can use a regular blender or hand blender.

I knew if there was a broccoli cheese soup worthy of our weeknight rotation, this would be it.

And it really and truly was.  It’s packed with cheddar flavor, but doesn’t feel too heavy.  There’s a little hint of heat in each spoonful, so the flavor isn’t one-dimensional.  Plus you can serve it with just about anything.  Chicken, noodles, a crusty loaf of bread, beer, or a glass of chardonnay.

To make soup for 4, you will need:

  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 lb. broccoli, cut into 1 inch florets
  • 3 C chicken stock (I ended up using a bit more, and of course, you can use vegetable stock if you’re so inclined)
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 C spinach leaves
  • 1 T light beer (I had white wine open, so used that instead)
  • 4 oz. extra sharp white cheddar cheese, grated
  • 2 pinches cayenne
  • finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese for garnish

In a heavy bottomed pot or Dutch oven, warm oil over medium heat.  Add onion, garlic, and a few pinches of salt.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until aromatic and tender, 8-10 minutes.

Increase heat to high, add broccoli, stock (I added enough stock to cover the broccoli completely, probably about 3 1/2 C), a few pinches of salt and black pepper; bring to a simmer.  Cover and cook broccoli over medium heat, about 10 minutes, or until broccoli is tender.  Remove from heat.  Transfer soup mixture and spinach to blender and blend till smooth.  When you’re blending hot liquids, you want to fill your blender halfway at the most, so you may have to do this a couple of times.

Transfer the soup back to the pan, and add cheddar and cayenne, stirring till cheese is melted.  Serve with grated Parmesan on top.

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