Friday, January 18, 2013

homemade broccoli cheddar soup

Mmmmm, broccoli cheddar soup...

To me, this soup is like a time machine. It brings me right back to my college days when there was a Panera Bread IN my dorm. Whoever thought up that idea is an absolute genius! I'm not going to lie... there was a stretch of time when you could find me in that Panera at least once a week. And after a night of partying, umm... studying... it was the perfect spot for a pick me up.

But sadly, I don't live in the dorms anymore. And my current apartment is lacking a Panera. So when a craving for broccoli cheddar soup hits I feel kind of desperate! Sure, I could find another Panera, but when you rely on your feet and public transportation for travel... well... making the soup myself seems like the easier option.

So thats what I did! And it turned out so super creamy and delicious. I'm kicking myself now for not keeping track of how much all the ingredients cost me... because I'm sure it's much cheaper than what Panera is asking us to shell out. Oh well, next time! And you better believe there will be a next time. This soup is just too good not to make again and again... and again! But maybe with some healthier swap outs.

Because I don't have a ton of soup making experience I decided to go with a recipe I found on Food Network.

Here's what you'll need:
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 small onion
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 cups half-and-half
- 3 cups chicken broth
- 2 bay leaves
- a few cloves of garlic (my addition)
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg (I left this out)
- salt and pepper
- 4 cups broccoli
- 1 carrot
- 2 1/2 cups (one 8oz bag) shredded cheddar cheese

The first step is preparation. Chop your onion and carrot. Mince the garlic. Rip and chop your broccoli into little trees. Don't worry about leaving the broccoli a bit chunkier as it will break apart in the soup later. Get out your bay leaves. They're there to flavor the soup but will be taken out towards the end of cooking.

Measure your half-and-half, chicken broth and cheese.

Have your butter and flour ready.

If you're at all nervous about cooking having all your ingredients ready and waiting sure takes the pressure off. Plus, it makes you feel like you're on a cooking show!

Alright, let's get cooking. Melt all 6 tablespoons of butter over medium heat.

Add onions and cook until soft. About 5 minutes.

Once the onions are done, mix in your flour. This my friends is called a roux. It's pretty much the base for all creamy soups and sauces. Make sure you whisk in all the flour until you're left with a smooth no-lump mixture.

Let the flour cook for a few minutes with the butter and onions then add your liquids. Start with the half-and-half and pour slowly into the roux, mixing as you go. Then add the chicken broth.

Hey! It's starting to look like soup! Very, very boring soup. Add your bay leaves, garlic, salt and pepper. I decided to add the garlic later (rather than with the onions) to prevent it from burning. Now would be the time to add nutmeg if you're sticking to the original recipe.

Turn the heat up a bit until you've reached a simmer then lower it back to medium low. Let your soup base cook, uncovered, for about 20 minutes and don't forget to stir occasionally.

Once the 20 minutes are up it's time to add the broccoli and carrots. Raise the heat until you see a hint of a simmer then lower it back to medium low.

And then wait another 20 minutes. Same drill as last time... stir often, no cover. Hang in there! We're almost done!!

When you're 20 minutes are up make sure you fish out those bay leaves. Now the Food Network site says to transfer your soup to a blender (if you don't own an immersion blender) to puree. I didn't like the sound of that for two reason... it sounded like a mess and I like my soup a little chunky! A potato masher was the perfect solution! So mash up your broccoli or puree it in a blender. The choice is yours.

Turn the heat off and add your cheese. Give it a good mix until all the cheese is melted and incorporated into the soup. Hey look... broccoli cheddar soup!!!

Just like Panera.

Serve with sourdough bread and your taste buds wont notice a difference...

Yum yum yum yum yum!!! Super easy and super delicious!! This recipe made enough for two big bowls of soup and another bowl left over for lunch the next day.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

a little late...

Maybe more than just a little late. We're already more than two weeks in 2013!

Perhaps my new years resolution should be to blog more...

It's funny... over the summer I literally had to stop myself from thinking about the different holiday posts I'd want write. Then when the holidays got here I was just too busy to write anything! Oh well, the holidays are over and things are getting back to normal.

We took our holiday window display down, but not before I got a photo from street level.

It was a lot of fun to put up, as usual, but I was thrilled to take it down so we could look out our windows again! The winners haven't been announced yet... so keep your fingers crossed!

I've been thinking about blogging a lot lately so more posts are on their way. Including a recipe for delicious broccoli cheddar soup that I'll be sharing later this week!! Perfect for these chilly winter days.

Happy 2013 everyone!