It’s finally the beginning of Fall in Chicago! While I love the heat and warmth of summer, 80 degrees in late September is just a little ridiculous, and besides, who doesn’t like sweater weather and bundling up in big, fluffy blankets with a hot cup of cocoa or tea precariously balanced between knees and long-sleeve covered hands, steam rising to warm your cheeks while outside, the leaves are changing to flaming reds and burnt oranges, falling slowly to the ground that crunches beneath boot covered feet. The piles of leaves that will appear in between the trees, raked together to be ruined by excited children, then raked again to have the same thing repeated. Fall is something I’ve learned to appreciate more as an adult rather than as a kid, because in Hong Kong, there is really only spring, monsoon summers, and chilly, snowless winters, with no real transition in between, no “real” fall. But now that I’m back stateside, I get to experience the changing of the closets and breaking out the boots with great vigor and enjoyment (yes, I’m that person who could spend HOURS reorganizing my closet in various ways till I’m satisfied with the outcome).
And with the changing of season, my craving for soups reemerges from its summertime hibernation, and what better way to start than with a piping hot bowl of broccoli cheddar soup! Now, I’ll admit, I have never made this at home or from scratch before, though obviously, there is broccoli and cheese involved, but then it becomes a matter of do I use all cream, or a combination? White or Yellow cheddar cheese? Other veggies like carrots? Potatoes? And so on my questions ranged, and so, to be a responsible home cook, instead of winging it, I decided to start with another’s recipe and take it from there, and where better to start than one of my favorite blogs ever: Smitten Kitchen! [Oh, and did you guys here that she’s got a new cookbook coming out in a few weeks?!?! I’m so incredibly excited about it that I promise I will be cooking a dish from her book every day the week I get it so I can get my personal take on it up on the blog ASAP!]
Now, her recipe is actually a really good one, and her process for getting to where she did is incredibly enlightening in terms of where I can take the recipe next. The amount of cheese in here is perfect, even though she didn’t mention whether she used yellow or white cheddar, but I think that allows for dealer’s preference, which I appreciate! And for the record, I used white cheddar because I think it gives the soup a better color, but that’s just my opinion. However, for me (& Frankie, because he always has suggestions that tend to mirror my own thoughts), it was too runny and the immersion blender didn’t get the soup to the consistency that I prefer.
I tried it the way Perelman prefers it because, when I’m out at restaurants and order it, the consistency & preparation is out of my control, and sometimes I don’t mind chunks, and other times I like it smooth. But when making the meal at home on your own, you have the power to really hone in on your personal preferences, and frankly, I just didn’t know what I was going to like until I made it, which is why I love to cook! The experimentation is exhilarating as you start to learn more about your palate and preferences when you try new things.
So, when I make this again, which I absolutely will, I do plan to instead use 3 cups of veggie broth instead of 4 (though keeping it near by to add more moisture in later) and I’ll be using the blender for sure, which is one of the options provided in the recipe, leaving some of the smaller pieces of broccoli set aside for post-blending to still have some of those broccoli chunks in it. I also plan to stick with my white cheddar, and use a mixture of 1/2 cream to 1/2 milk for the base of the soup (so you still get a little bit of that richness).
But obviously, Deb Perelman knows what she’s talking about and if you too are in the mood for a little broccoli cheddar soup, definitely try this out on your own (making the adjustments you think would be best for your preference, because everyone has particular tastes on viscosity and texture when it comes to soups)! It’s definitely one of those hearty soups that really brings the spirit of Fall into the kitchen! —Cooking Maggie
Broccoli Cheddar Soup by smitten kitchen
Cooking Maggie Notes:
- I used 1/2 cream, 1/2 milk, but Perelman mentions you can do a variety of combos as well (1/2 cream, 1/2 broth / 1/2 milk, 1/2 broth), so adjust to your preference of how rich/heavy you want your soup to be.
- If you like it a little on the runny side, then use the full 4 cups, but if you want a thicker soup, then I would start with 3 cups and keep an extra cup in reserve to add a little later.
- If you like your soup chunky, the immersion blender is going to be the way to go, but if you’re like me and want a smoother soup, then I would use the blender. Save some of the chopped up broccoli for after blending so you still get some serious broccoli bites in there too if that’s what you like!