Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Broccoli Cheese Soup - The Perfect Meal For Candlemas!

It is hard to believe that February will be upon us on Saturday! We live in Central Virginia where the temperatures thus far have been unseasonably warm. We've only turned our heater on twice and then only for a few hours to chase the chill out of the apartment. Most days I have the screen door cracked to let in a little fresh air. I'm beginning to wonder if we're going to pass winter up this year altogether and move straight on to spring. And speaking of spring . . .

This coming Sunday is Candlemas, one of my favorite days in The Year of the Lord, and I've got the perfect recipe for you to try! Even little ones who turn their nose up at anything green love this recipe primarily because the vegetables are hidden away in that wonderful creamy, cheesy soup!

In many cultures this day is observed as a celebration of the return of the light (have you noticed that the days are ever so slow getting longer?), and with that, the hope of spring. The lovely golden color of the soup reminds me of the sun, flecked with tiny bright bits of carrots, and the broccoli itself serves as a reminder of how beautiful and green everything is in the spring, which makes this recipe, in my opinion, the perfect way to celebrate!

If you are a fan of Panera's broccoli cheese soup, I just have to tell you, this one beats it, at least in my book, and may make it into your regular menu rotation!


1 tablespoon + 4 tablespoons butter, divided
1 small/medium sweet yellow onion, diced small
1 clove garlic, peeled and minced
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups low-sodium chicken stock (you can substitute vegetable stock if you prefer)
2 cups half-and-half heavy cream
3 cups broccoli florets, diced into small pieces
2 large carrots, peeled and diced
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard powder (optional)
A pinch cayenne pepper, optional and to taste (does not make soup spicy, just adds flavor!)
8 ounces grated high quality extra-sharp cheddar cheese, plus a small amount for garnishing. (I use 1/2 sharp white cheddar and 1/2 sharp yellow cheddar)

In a large pot add 1 tablespoon butter, the diced onion, and sauté over medium heat until the onion is translucent and barely browned, about 4 minutes. Stir occasionally.

Add the garlic and cook about 30 seconds, stirring constantly so it doesn’t burn. Remove from heat and set pan aside. Remove to a bowl and set aside.

Once onions and garlic are removed, in the same pot add 4 tablespoons butter, flour, and cook over medium heat for about 3 to 5 minutes, whisking constantly, until flour is thickened. This will make a roux and you want it to be thick so that the soup will thicken in the cooking process.

Slowly add the chicken stock, stirring constantly.

Slowly add the heavy cream, stirring constantly.

Allow mixture to simmer over low heat for about 15 to 20 minutes, or until it has reduced and thickened. You will notice a "skin" form on the top, which is normal. Just stir it occasionally and blend it back in.

While mixture is simmering, chop the broccoli and carrots. After simmering 15 to 20 minutes, add the broccoli, carrots, and the onion and garlic you previously set aside.

Add the salt, pepper, paprika, dry mustard (optional), and cayenne (optional).  Stir to combine.

Allow soup to simmer over low heat for about 20 to 25 minutes, or until it has reduced and thickened some. Stir occasionally to blend in the ‘skin’.

While soup simmers, grate the cheese. For this recipe it is better to use a high-quality cheese, because the flavor of the soup depends on it. Do not use pre-grated cheese, as it is treated to help preserve it and thus resistant to melting. After simmering for 20 to 25 minutes, add the 8 oz of cheese, stirring until melted.

Transfer soup to bowls and garnish with additional cheese, and serve immediately.

This soup will keep for 5 to 7 days in an airtight container in the refrigerator. It is best to re-heat it slowly in the microwave, 30 seconds to 1 minute increments stirring after each rotation.

And with that, I hope you'll give this recipe a try, and if you do let me know how you like it! The Super Bowl is also this coming Sunday, which I personally could care less about but as my husband loves football, I'm sure I'll join in. Hopefully somewhere in the midst of all the hoopla, I'll be able to set aside a little time for some quiet reflection and observation of the lovely significance of this day.

Until then,


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