Sunday, April 24, 2011

Beautifully Green Brocolli Soup

Again, despite the time of year, I have been making soup and I don't really need somebody's illness as an excuse, I just like soup. Too hot for soup? There's a solution for that - just let it get cold! My apparently odd habit of eating vegetables has been commented on by both family and friends but despite what some may think the purpose of brocolli (and other vegetables) is not just for feeding to your rabbit or guinea pig. Brocolli is a great food, everybody should eat more of it. It is high in folate and iron and also vitamin C which helps your body to actually absorb the iron. Plus it tastes good, so end of story. Following is my recipe for brocolli soup and it is a very adaptable recipe and the great thing about vegetables is that they are budget-friendly. Besides, I like colourful foods.

Brocolli Soup

1-2 tablespoons butter or vegetable oil
1 chopped onion or 3 chopped leeks
1 large head of chopped broccoli (about 300-500 grams)
1 cube chicken stock
½ cup rice or small pasta or 1 medium potato, diced
Enough water to cover vegetables
Salt and pepper to season.

So first you want to heat your butter or oil in a medium to large sized saucepan and cook the onion or leek until it is soft.

Next you add the chopped brocolli, rice/pasta/potato, water and the chicken stock. The amount of liquid of course depends on how thick you like your soup but more could be added later if the soup is the wrong texture. I would use enough liquid so that the vegetables are not only covered but floating a little.

After the liquid has come to a boil turn the heat down and simmer until the vegetables are cooked, which shouldn't take longer than about 20 minutes. They say that boiling things like brocolli removes the nutrients but it's not like you're going to tip the water out so surely the nutrients are still there in the soup somewhere?

Now that everything is cooked you need to get out your stick-blender or pour half of the soup into a food processor and make it nice and smooth. I only make my soup half smooth because I like to have vegetables lumps but you can process it as much or as little as you like.

Finally it is time to season your soup and as always you begin with simple salt and pepper. If you want more I would suggest taking a look through all your herbs and spices and tipping in a little of whatever smells good. Personally other than salt and pepper all I ever add to this particular soup is chilli.

So, voilĂ , you now have beautiful green brocolli soup and it is time to eat it. The great thing about soup is that you can freeze it and pull it out anytime, which is very useful for a student like me. I cook on the weekend, as much as I can, and live off of the results for a week. When you freeze soup the texture changes, it seems to get thicker, which I like, but at the same time you can always add a bit of water to it when you reheat it if you would rather a more liquidy soup. Unfortunately at the moment I have no microwave which means I have to go the long way about reheating things, so after very tiring days at work I usually end up eating cold food. That's okay now that the weather is good, but if I want hot food soup is the fastest thing to get hot.

Anyway, just one last thing before I go. It just occurred to me that you, random reader, may be a voracious carnivore like some of my friends who never complain at vegetarian dishes, but always have more enthusiastic compliments when there is meat. So, to add some protein to this soup? I would suggest chicken, it goes well with brocolli. I don't think bacon is suitable here but ham would be nice. For both I would use something pre-cooked, so great use for leftovers, and I would dice it or shred it or crumble it. If not pre-cooked, I would cut up nice and small and fry lightly with the onion, then continue as above. I would not suggest any really red meat here but turkey might also be nice. For non-meat protein, to turn this soup into a fully balanced meal, I would personally go for a cup of lentils, to be simmered with everything else until soft. If you wanted to use beans, maybe some sort of white bean like butter beans. Personally I would either go for just vegetables here or vegetables and a little meat, I for some reason do not really think that legumes would fit in nicely here at all. But that may just be me.

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