Garden to table – Creamy Broccoli Soup

by Trish Watson

Winter time  is soup time for me. Cold, rainy days like we’ve been having are the perfect time to cook up a pot of soup. Its warming goodness is just what I crave for lunch and sometimes for a light supper. I have a cookbook called The Soup Bible, and I have enjoyed many a meal from that book; however, this soup came from a different source.  If you don’t care for bacon or bleu cheese in your soup, they are optional ingredients.  If you want to dress up a plain soup, these can be tasty additions. 

1 bunch of fresh broccoli
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup water
8 oz. thick-sliced bacon, diced
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
1 cup minced onions
1/2 cup minced celery
1 Tbsp. minced, fresh garlic
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/4 cup chopped scallions
Fresh lemon juice, salt, pepper and freshly ground nutmeg to taste
Toasted baguette slices
Crumbled bleu cheese
Cut florets from stem and chop into bite-sized pieces.  Use a vegetable peeler to peel the stalks and then dice.  Bring broth and water to a boil in a saucepan.  Add florets  and cook until crisp-tender, 3 minutes.  Transfer broccoli to a bowl and reserve the broth.  In a skillet, cook diced bacon until crisp and place on a paper towel.  Pour out all grease but 2 Tbsp. drippings.  Melt butter with the drippings over medium heat. Add onions and celery, and diced broccoli stems.  Cover skillet and sweat until softened- about five minutes.  Add garlic last minute.  
Whisk in flour and cook 2 minutes.  Whisk in the reserved broth and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer soup until thick.  Add parsley, scallions and halt the florets and simmer 3 minutes.  Puree soup in 2 batches into a blender. Return to pot and add seasonings.  Serve with baguette slices, bacon, cheese and remaining florets.

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