Repeat after me: Broccoli can taste good without being smothered in a sea of goopy, fake cheese. And I don’t mean that you should smother it in a sea of goopy, real cheese, either.
Despite the fact that broccoli and cauliflower are native to the Mediterranean, they aren’t seen in many Greek dishes. They are typically prepared by cooking until tender and served with a simple drizzle of olive oil and lemon juice. While that’s an excellent way to eat these members of the brassica family, there’s so many more ways to enjoy them. Yes, I said enjoy.
Brassicas like broccoli and Brussels sprouts have a reputation for having a bitter flavor. While that is true of some varieties, many have been hybridized over time to reduce or eliminate that off-putting flavor. No matter, they are still nutritional powerhouses, and with the right combination of ingredients and cooking technique, they can become delicious additions to your healthy diet.
Given the fact that these crops are grown during cooler seasons, it seems only fitting to turn them into a heart-warming soup perfect for a cold winter’s night (or really, any other night of the year). Adding just the right seasonings and complimentary vegetables elevates what might be a ho-hum boring soup into something rich and satisfying without losing the wonderfully healthy benefits that this group of veggies has to offer.
This recipe takes advantage of hearty potatoes to add thickness and tangy sour cream to give flavor and creaminess. The main stars of the show are still the broccoli and cauliflower, but they are allowed to sparkle and shine so much more with this delightful mix of tastes and textures.
Some quick notes before you begin:
The biggest thing to be careful of is to not overcook your vegetables. The flavor gets compromised as well as the texture. Aim for cooking them just until they are “fork tender”, when they can just be easily pierced with a fork.
I always recommend choosing a lower sodium broth if you are purchasing rather than making your own. This allows you to add only what you want to reach your desired flavor.
The quality of your recipe will be directly influenced by the quality of your ingredients. Many sour cream products at the grocery store have a lot of added ingredients to create a thicker texture, but sacrifice flavor as a result. Try to find one made simply with cream and cultures.
That having been said, I actually use cheap wine for cooking. Don’t buy into they hype on this, expensive wines are wasted for cooking. Taste tests have shown that what makes a wine good for drinking isn’t necessarily going to be good for cooking.
While Russet potatoes are perfectly fine for this soup, a yellow potato variety like Yukon Gold will add a lot more flavor and less of that gritty texture that other baking potatoes tend to have. Any potato will do, but if you’re in it this far, might as well go for the gold!
This recipe makes quite a bit of soup, so you can cut down the amounts as desired.
Cream of Broccoli and Cauliflower Soup
- 3/4 lb. yellow or white onion, sliced
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 4 – 5 cloves garlic, chopped fine (about 1 generous Tbsp.)
- 1 cup white wine (I use a cheap Chablis)
- 12 cups beef broth (vegetable broth, or a mix of the two is also good)
- 2 lbs. broccoli, chopped into florets
- 2 lbs. cauliflower, chopped into florets
- 1 1/2 lbs. potatoes cut into chunks with skin on, Yukon Gold or other yellow variety preferred
- several sprigs of fresh thyme, or 1 tsp. dry
- 1 to 2 bay leaves
- 1 cup heavy cream (whipping cream)
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- salt and pepper to taste
Put the onions and oil into a large stock pot and bring to high heat on the stove. Once the onions begin to sizzle, lower the heat to medium and saute just until the onions are transluscent and beginning to brown. Add the garlic and cook just a minute more, gently stirring.
Add the wine and broth and bring the heat back to high. Add the broccoli, cauliflower, potatoes and herbs to the pot and gently combine. Once the liquids just start to boil, lower the heat to maintain a gentle simmer and cover the pot.
Once the veggies are tender, blend them until smooth or to whatever your desired texture is. You can do this one of two ways:
- strain out the solids and add them to a blender with just enough broth to make is smooth, then add this back into the pot with the rest of the liquid.
- use an immersion blender directly in the pot and blend until smooth.
Add the sour cream and heavy cream and mix until completely blended in. I find that it’s best to put the sour cream in a bowl then whisk in small amounts of the soup to thin it before adding it to the rest of the soup.
Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper to taste. A sprinkling of a cheese like parmesan or sharp chedder and a drizzle of olive oil are perfect additions along with a nice chunk of bread to dunk in. Enjoy!