Lighter Broccoli Cheddar Soup

Lighter Broccoli Cheddar Soup

Happy 2018! I’m so excited to be back at creating content after a very busy holiday season! This recipe is inspired by everyone’s favorite New Year’s Resolution to hate: to start eating better. While I’ve given up on dieting as a concept – I’ve discovered that it makes me profoundly miserable – everyone likes to eat healthier if it’s delicious and painless. This soup is perfect to help you start 2018 off with your resolutions going strong.

Adapted from a recipe in the Washington Post, originally by Ellie Krieger, it’s the lightest broccoli cheddar soup you could make, with all of the flavor and richness of a soup that’s usually heavy on cream and cheese. Cannellini beans are the star of this show, blending together perfectly to substitute for a lot of that heavy cream. I’d never even eaten a cannellini bean before experimenting with this recipe, so I can attest, with no long-harbored love of them, that they really don’t alter the flavor of the soup at all – just the texture and creaminess. Shelled chickpeas work just as well in this recipe, so you could use those instead. My changes to the original recipe are mostly changes to the seasonings. With so much of the fat removed from this recipe, it felt like it needed a good flavor boost, and I’m very happy with how it turned out.

I’ll admit that when I make this soup, I think to myself that it’s so healthy, it won’t matter if I top it with a little extra (read: way too much) cheddar cheese. Cheddar is in the name, after all. Every year, my brother makes a New Year’s resolution to eat a Five Guys burger at least once a month for the whole year, and I’ve found that really inspiring. Imagine making a resolution that you know for sure that you’ll be able to keep – and thoroughly enjoy! So, I’m resolving to have extra cheese on my food whenever I feel I should. I’ll let you know how it goes. My other resolution is to save money, so my husband and I can buy our first house this year, so this recipe is about to become even more of a staple in our home. It’s the least expensive way to make broccoli cheddar soup – especially if you make your own chicken stock, as I do. I guess you could call this double-whammy broccoli cheddar soup, since it’s easy on the wallet and the scale. Are you sold yet? I’m adding more broccoli to my grocery list as I type this.

You can play around with the amount of milk and cheese you add, depending on just how calorie conscious you want to be with it – you already know what I suggest doing. You can also blend it until it’s completely smooth, or opt to leave chunks of broccoli, if you’re into that. Either way it’s a perfect starter or lunch, especially served with some kind of cheesy roll or toasty garlic bread.

I’m well aware that my cheese obsession is out of hand. Don’t send help.

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Lighter Broccoli Cheddar Soup

Adapted from Broccoli Cheddar Soup, by Ellie Krieger, as printed in the Washington Post.

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 55 minutes
Servings 4

Ingredients

  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 4 1/2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 large head of broccoli, cut into bite-size pieces about 6 cups
  • 1 14.5oz can cannelini beans or chick peas
  • 1 tsp powdered mustard
  • 2 1/2 tsps salt
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/8 tsp ground thyme
  • 1/8 tsp ground sage
  • 3/4 cup 1% milk
  • 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese, plus more for garnishes

Instructions

  1. Add onion and butter to a large pot and cook over medium heat until onions soften and start to brown.

    2. Add the chicken broth, broccoli and beans. Turn heat up to high and allow the soup to come to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and allow to simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally .

    3. Let the soup cool slightly, and then blend until smooth (I used my NutriBullet, as always) and return to the pot. Stir in the milk and cheese until well combined. Serve immediately and garnish with extra cheese on top.

 





Tomato Basil Bisque

Tomato Basil Bisque

I should really save myself some time and just re-name this blog “Stuff I Like to Eat.” If you were wondering how I decide what I’m going to post next, it’s generally a combination of what I’ve been craving, and what recipes I’ve already done some work and testing on. This Tomato Basil Bisque is exactly what I’ve been wanting lately, despite the fact that I live on the east coast and we’re currently experiencing some full-on early spring. It’s not exactly creamy tomato soup weather, but who says it really has to be? It’s February, and that’s good enough for me!

This Tomato Basil Bisque is, like most of my recipes, a conglomeration of several others, with some of my own additions. The main inspirations for this soup were this recipe, and this one. I took my favorite parts of those, and went from there. My version of Tomato Basil Bisque is thick and creamy, deeply flavorful, and it’s got a little kick that’s balanced by the cream in the recipe. It’s not too spicy in any sense of the word, but it’s most certainly not bland.

This recipe calls for butternut squash, which I think adds a lot of body and a nice, almost nutty flavor that blends really well with the tomato. I wish I could say that was my own idea, but I got it from the second recipe linked above. The first time I worked with this soup, I tried it with sweet potato instead, to see if I could cut the (already small) amount of added sugar, but it was mostly a failure. Recipe testing is so fun – until it doesn’t turn out the way you’d hoped, and then you’re left with half a gallon of weird failure soup.

I paired my Tomato Basil Bisque with an upgraded grilled cheese, made on sourdough with cheddar and mozzarella, and a thin layer of mayo (try it, it’s a game changer). I’m sitting here writing this and wondering what else people serve with tomato soup – will begin that research soon!

The process for making this soup is pretty easy, and not too time-consuming. The whole thing spends roughly an hour on the stove, but you don’t have to watch it constantly. The only prep work is chopping some garlic and onion and measuring out spices, so it doesn’t become too tedious, either. You could get a batch of Stuffed Corn Bubbles filled with cheese rising/baking in the oven while making this soup, and then die of happiness when you eat them together. The southwestern flavors in both recipes would make them a brilliant pairing! I guess I just answered my own question about what else you serve with tomato soup!




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Creamy Tomato Basil Bisque

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Servings 5

Ingredients

  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 1 medium yellow onion
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 2 14.5 oz cans Hunt's fire roasted diced tomatoes
  • 2 oz tomato paste
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 2 cups butternut squash, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 Tbsps dried basil
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne
  • 1/8 tsp chili powder
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 tsp onion powder

Instructions

  1. Roughly chop onions and mince garlic. Add to a large pot with 2 Tbsps of butter. Let cook until onions and garlic begin to brown.

    2. Add chicken stock, tomatoes, butternut squash (make sure the squash chunks aren't too large, so they won't take forever to cook), salt, pepper, basil, oregano, thyme, brown sugar, cayenne, and chili powder to the pot. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for 15 minutes. Cover and simmer for an additional 15 minutes. Continue to stir occasionally while soup is simmering.

    3. Test butternut squash to see if it's fork-tender. When it is, remove soup from heat, and blend until smooth. I used my NutriBullet, but any blender would do.

    4. Return soup to the pot over low heat and stir in cream, milk, and onion powder, Add salt and pepper to taste. Enjoy with a grilled cheese, or by itself!