Broccoli is in season, and we can get it local and organic when we don’t have any in our own garden. I bought some broccoli last week. We had the florets sauteed, steamed, and in salad. Then I took on my favorite part: the stalks. Broccoli stalks are actually sweeter than the florets, and peeled and sliced they can easily form the basis of a fantastic, rich soup.
Start by dicing one or two red potatoes. Set aside about two thirds of the diced potatoes. Toss about a third of the diced potatoes in a medium-sized pot. Now peel off the outer, woody exterior of a half dozen or so broccoli stalks. If florets are present, trim them off and set them aside. We can use some of them. Slice each stalk in half lengthwise and then slice again across the stalk, in slices each of about 1/4 to 1/2 inch each. Toss the broccoli stalks in the pot with the potatoes. Add enough lightly salted water or chicken broth or stock* to cover. Start cooking. Add one medium leek (or part of a large one), cut lengthwise and cleaned and then cut across the grain, like you did with the broccoli. Be sure to use the leek tops. They will help make the soup greener! Simmer the portion of potatoes, broccoli stems, and leeks for about half an hour.
Meanwhile, put the rest of the diced potatoes on a cast iron baking pan (or any other heavy baking pan), toss with oil and seasoning (I used a Greek seasoning mix), and roast at 400 degrees for about half an hour, turning regularly.
How are the potatoes, stems, and leeks in the pot? Are they starting to soften? At half an hour, turn off the heat and take off the lid. Let the mixture start to cool. After it has cooled a fair amount, scoop out the solids (potatoes and stems), leaving behind the liquid. Yes, we’ll use it, just not now. Put the solids in a blender. Now add cold milk just to cover; the cold milk will help you avoid a blender explosion. Puree until you have a wonderfully smooth mixture.
Pour the pureed mixture back into the pot with the retained liquid. Add the roasted potatoes. Add a handful of the florets, cut rather small. Now heat the soup until the florets are tender. Taste and add salt and pepper as needed. Serve. Eat. Add good grated cheddar cheese to the top if you want.
*Here’s an important frugal tip: make your own stock or broth by boiling the bones from your roasted birds. I’ll cover details in a future post.