A week ago my daughter and I were in Boston, on Easter Day, visiting my sister, her aunt, who was recovering from surgery. We didn't see many bonnets, but the T trolleys were so jammed, the driver had to ask someone to step out so he could close the door. I stared at feet: running shoes, espadrille, sneakers, and even a few high heels. Two men were holding plastic bags full of paper work, water bottle, a glimpse of numbers. I wished them well the next day in the Boston marathon and did some thinking about a year ago.
On our way home, we stopped at a Panera : me for soup, sandwich for my daughter. I realized I hadn't really eaten all day, so that was the BEST soup - the kind you dream about. Of course, trying to replicate it was impossible, without that hunger I had on Sunday. I tried a copycat recipe, but it called for cornstarch. I followed the directions, cornstarch and all, but it wasn't the same, of course.
So back to my tried and true, made from scratch, creamy soup recipe. Sometimes I add cream or half and half, and sometimes I just puree a chicken-stock based soup. Here I added the half and half, then some grated cheese, but used potato for thickener, rather than cornstarch. I first tried extra sharp white cheddar, then the yellow sharp cheddar, and liked the yellow cheddar better, actually, because it was a little smoother.
And the grandchildren? Loving their new home in Minnesota! I miss them a LOT, but what's important is that they're together and happy.
Creamy Broccoli Soup with cheddar
1 medium onion, sliced
1 peeled garlic clove, sliced
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon mild olive oil
1 stalk sliced celery, leaves and all
a baby potato, or 1/2 cup diced red or white potato
1 cup chicken stock
1 cup water
2-3 cups broccoli, stems and tops, sliced in chunky pieces (I used a large crown of broccoli)
1 cup grated cheddar, white or yellow
1 cup half and half cream/milk
2 pinches ground nutmeg, or several scrapings
2 T. minced fresh dill
freshly cracked pepper
Melt the butter in a heavy bottomed saucepan, then add the oil garlic, and onion. Cook on medium heat, stirring, until onion is soft.
Add the potato and chicken stock and water and cook on medium until potato is soft.
Add the broccoli chunks and cook until just soft, then turn down the heat and add the half and half or cream, the nutmeg and dill, and the cheese. Stir constantly, and do not let it boil at any time. Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring, then take off heat. Let sit a few minutes before using an immersion blender, food processor, or blender.
Serve with an additional sprinkle of cheese on top.
Here comes Spring!