I have a couple interesting discoveries to share today.
Discovery #1: Broccoli cheddar soup can be a lot healthier and still taste delicious. (For this soup, I took out all the flour, butter, and cream and thickened the soup with a cauliflower and onion purée. I loved it, but – to my amazement – it was also 100 percent Meat-and-Potatoes-Guy approved)
Discovery #2: My beagle Calvin was a race car driver in a former life.
Lately, whenever we take him along for a drive, he does whatever it takes to get himself from the backseat to the front (pitiful whining and whimpering and throwing himself over any obstacles in his way) so he can take the driver’s seat (blurry photos courtesy of my iPhone).
Perched so he can see through the windshield, taking the wheel with both front paws.
Or just one paw if he’s feeling a little more leisurely.
The best part is when this perch gets tiring, in which case Cal gets inventive and uses his nose to help himself balance at the wheel.
If he wasn’t a race car driver, he was surely the proud chauffeur for a very wealthy family. I’ve never seen Calvin more pleased than when he’s sitting in the driver’s seat.
But back to the soup, this Skinny Broccoli Cheddar Soup recipe is my healthier, more veggie-filled version of the hearty, classic winter comfort food.
Here are all the ingredients you’ll need.
Begin by chopping an onion.
No need to spend time perfectly dicing it either – it will be puréed after it’s cooked.
Next, roughly chop some cauliflower.
Place the head of cauliflower right side up on the cutting board and quarter it.
This makes it easy to slice off the stem: cut into the first quarter, angling your knife so it removes the core and green leaves without cutting into the florets.
The florets should break apart as you cut out the core.
Grab some fresh broccoli and chop off the stalk so that the florets break apart.
Pile up the florets and chop in all directions, cutting the florets into small, bite-sized pieces.
Next, grate a carrot.
And puh-lenty of cheddar cheese.
Use the extra sharp kind for the fullest flavor.
Heat some olive oil in a large sauce pot.
Cook the chopped onion for a few minutes, until it begins to soften.
Then add the cauliflower and cook for several minutes more.
When the cauliflower is softened too, turn off the heat.
Add some 1 percent milk and season the mixture with salt and pepper.
Then grab an immersion hand blender and purée until you’re left with a smooth, creamy mixture.
If you don’t have an immersion hand blender, transfer the mixture to a food processor to purée.
If you want to add an immersion hand blender to your holiday wish list, this is the one I use. It’s worked very well and I’ve found it so useful for adding healthy veggie purées to soups and other dishes. Biggest bonus: it’s about 100 times easier to wash than a food processor.
All the cauliflower in this purée, by the way, adds a ton of healthy nutrition to the soup. Cauliflower is full of phytochemicals, which protect against cancer and provide strong anti-aging benefits. It also provides lots of filling fiber and Vitamin C.
Next, grab a large stock pot and heat some olive oil over medium heat.
Add the broccoli and cook for a couple of minutes.
Then add the shredded carrots, season with salt and pepper, and cook until the veggies are lightly softened.
Add some chicken stock (or vegetable stock for a vegetarian dish) and bring it to a boil.
The recipe calls for only 1 1/2 cups of stock, which doesn’t look like much. But keep in mind that the cauliflower purée will add a lot more “broth” later on.
Immediately reduce the heat to a light simmer and stir in some Dijon mustard, honey, and paprika.
This combo of (healthy) seasonings adds so much flavor to the final dish.
Turn off the heat and immediately stir in the cauliflower purée and the shredded cheddar cheese.
Season to your taste with salt and pepper.
This is a slightly sneaky dish because you can’t actually taste the healthy cauliflower purée.
But it does add a ton of nutritional value to the soup, along with a surprising amount of rich flavor.
Serving Note: This soup is not starchy enough to hold its consistency when stored and reheated as leftovers. I recommend cutting this recipe in half if you’re only cooking for two.
I’m now convinced that broccoli cheddar soup doesn’t need a ton of butter, flour and cream to taste amazing.
It just needs the right combo of fresh ingredients and flavorful seasonings.
On the next cold, dark, wintry night, pair this soup with some freshly baked bread and let me know if you agree!
Here is the complete printable recipe:
Prep: 20 minutes
Cook: 20 minutes
Yield: 6 servings
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 medium onion, roughly chopped
- 1 head cauliflower, roughly chopped
- 2 cups 1 percent milk
- 2 pounds broccoli, stalks removed and florets chopped into bite-sized pieces
- 1 medium carrot, grated
- 1½ cups chicken stock (or vegetable stock)
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1½ teaspoons paprika
- 3 cups extra sharp cheddar cheese, grated
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Heat ½ tablespoon of olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the chopped onion and cook until it's softened, about 3-5 minutes. Add the cauliflower and cook until softened, about 7 minutes more. Add the milk and season with salt and pepper.
- Use an immersion hand blender to puree the mixture until it's smooth and creamy (or transfer mixture to a food processor to purée).
- Heat 1½ tablespoons of olive oil in a large stock pot or dutch oven over medium heat. Add the broccoli and shredded carrots and season with salt and pepper. Cook until veggies are softened, about 5 - 7 minutes. Add the chicken stock and bring to a boil, then adjust the heat to a light simmer. Stir in the dijon, honey, and paprika. Turn off the heat.
- Carefully stir in the cauliflower purée and the shredded cheddar. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and serve.