Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Cream of Crap

One of my sisters, and I won't embarass her by naming her in this forum, dropped by one evening last May when I had made Broccoli & Cheese Soup for dinner. Even though she wouldn't try the soup, I was still pretty impressed with myself until she asked, "Did you make it with Cream of Broccoli?" I was mortified. If you're using Cream-of-Whatever in a recipe, you're not cooking. You're just opening cans.

I only thought of this because I again made the soup tonight. When I first tried this recipe in May, for The Carnivore's birthday, I followed the instructions precisely, as I do with most recipes the first time around. It came out decently enough, but it was a little simplistic for our tastes and I knew I could make it better with some tweaking. I finally got around to trying it out again tonight, and had a great time changing it up. The original recipe came from Family Circle magazine, but since I have altered it so much as to render the original unrecognizable, I am giving credit to the source only because it is where I got the idea.

BROCCOLI CHEESE SOUP (Sarah's version)
  • 12 ounces broccoli, cut into bite-size pieces
  • 3 Tbs butter
  • 3 Tbs red onion, diced
  • 3 Tbs flour
  • 2 cups milk
  • 2 cups half-and-half
  • 6 slices American cheese **
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 Tbs coarse ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup grated cheddar cheese
  • 2 Tbs scallions, sliced
  1. Bring large pot of water to boil. Place broccoli in water and boil for 5 minutes, until bright green, yet still crunchy. Drain.
  2. Heat butter in large saucepan over medium heat.
  3. Saute onion until translucent.
  4. Reduce heat to low, stir in flour and cook until bubbly (about 2 minutes).
  5. Pour one cup of milk into pot and stir until creamy. Add remaining milk and half-and-half.
  6. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes, until almost boiling.
  7. Add salt and pepper.
  8. Stir in slices of American cheese individually, letting each melt before adding another.
  9. Add broccoli (reserving a few florets for garnish).
  10. Heat for another minute or two, just until broccoli is warm again.
  11. Ladle into bowls. Sprinkle servings with grated cheddar, and place reserved florets in middle of cheese. Sprinkle scallions around the perimeter. (I'm getting carried away with presentation again. Too much Emeril).

I served the soup with a tossed salad and a loaf of French bread, though I heartily wish I had gotten a crusty baguette instead. The bread came fresh from the Walmart bakery. This is not a mistake I will make again.

**The use of American cheese is the only thing that I still need to work on with this recipe. It goes against everything I believe in to use a processed cheese product such as American cheese (and doesn't it figure that the highest-fat, nastiest possible cheeses were conceived of in the nation with the highest rates of food-related illnesses?). All that aside, since American cheese gives the best consistency to the soup, I am thus far loathe to try replacing it with real cheese. Will have to think further on this matter.

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