In my opinion the best soup for a cold, rainy day is a hearty one. The idea for my creamy broccoli cheddar soup stems from my Nana’s love for this soup at Panera. Every time that any of us grand-kids come home from college, my grandmother tells us to pick a day to go to Panera and without fail Nana always orders a bowl of broccoli cheddar soup with a whole-wheat baguette. Some of my favorite memories with Nana include these lunch outings–catching up with her while enjoying a casual meal. This is one of the few times Nana will relax and not fuss.
Moving to Seattle, I knew that there would be plenty of these chilly days for soups and stews and re-creating this favorite of Nana’s was one of the first recipes I wanted to tackle. I decided I would attempt to make it as healthy as possible and load it up with yummy veggies. My boyfriend always gives me a hard time about how I am “justifying” how healthy a recipe is. His rationale–nothing that tastes this good can be that healthy… so I will leave it up to you to decide if you want to view this recipe as a healthy weeknight meal or a guilty pleasure.
The fact that I spent most of my life growing up in Wisconsin, the cheese capitol of the U.S., only solidifies that the one ingredient I couldn’t skimp on is the CHEDDAR…I mean cheddar is in the title of the recipe. I added deli-style, extra-sharp cheddar slices, but you could easily add 1 and 1/2 to 2 cups of freshly-grated, extra-sharp cheddar cheese.
This soup did not last long in our house and Mr. “This can’t be that healthy” enjoyed seconds and took it to work for lunch the following day…guess it must taste good ;)
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 25 minutes
1 T coconut oil
2 carrots, shredded
1 parsnip, shredded
2 stalks celery, diced
1/2 red onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 T whole wheat flour
4 C low-sodium vegetable stock
1 C reduced-fat milk
1 russet potato, peeled and cubed (bite-size pieces)
5 C broccoli florets, rinsed
7 slices extra-sharp cheddar cheese (Alternatively 1 1/2 to 2 C freshly-grated)
Sea salt and cracked pepper to taste
- In a large stock pot, over medium-high heat, melt the coconut oil. Add the carrots, parsnip, onion and garlic. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Sprinkle the flour over the sautéed veggies, then whisk in milk and vegetable stock.
- Add the potatoes and broccoli and bring soup to a boil. Replace lid and cook for ~10 minutes, until potatoes are fork-tender. Turn off the heat and remove pot from the burner.
- Transfer half the soup-veggie mixture to a bowl, set aside, and puree the remaining soup with an immersion blender. (Note: you can puree more or less of the soup depending on the consistency you desire. I like more broccoli pieces in my soup so I intentionally fish more of the broccoli out and do not puree it)
- Add the cheese to the pureed soup and whisk to combine. Combine the soup-veggie mixture that was set aside with the pureed, cheesy soup base. Stir gently to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve warm.