Recently, a dear relative of my husband's family passed away. Auntie Helen, as we all called her, was 84 years young and in good health before she experienced an untimely stroke. She was a great hostess and cook, passing many of her tried-and-true recipes down to her three daughters. Auntie Helen loved her family's Swedish recipes including a brun pepparkaka cake (I'll feature that in an upcoming column) and anything with chocolate!
I made this soup plus some for Auntie Helen's family when they were spending the majority of their time traveling to and from the hospital. It is nourishing and hearty and warm and makes you feel good - just like Auntie Helen.
Cream of Broccoli Soup
5 T of butter, divided
1 onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
about 7 cups chopped broccoli (from 3 large bunches)
3 cups chicken broth, homemade or low-sodium all natural brand
3 T all-purpose flour
2 cups milk
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
freshly ground black pepper
8 slices bacon, cooked crisp and crumbled
In a large stockpot, melt 2 T of butter and add onion and celery. Sauté on med-low heat about 8 minutes.
Meanwhile, rinse broccoli bunches well and trim ends. Chop the entire thing, stems and all, into small pieces. Add to pot. Add chicken broth and simmer on low, about 25 minutes until broccoli is soft but not mushy. When done, take off heat and allow to cool slightly.
While broccoli is cooking, in medium saucepan melt 3 T of butter. Stir in flour with a whisk and whisk the mixture until bubbly. Slowly add in milk, stirring constantly. Cook on low-medium heat until it boils and thickens, stirring frequently. Add cheddar cheese in batches and stir well allowing each batch to melt. Add pepper.
With a hand-held immersion blender (or a food processor), puree the broccoli mixture until slightly smooth, keeping a few small pieces of broccoli visible. When finished pureeing, add milk/cheese mixture to stock pot, stirring constantly. Add chopped bacon, reserving a few for the garnish. Heat on low until hot enough to serve.
Garnish with a little shredded cheese and bacon, if desired.