Broccoli stems should not be underrated. In fact if you are cooking on a budget, buying broccoli heads with long stems is much less expensive than buying bags of pre-cut florets. (Enter this cheddar and broccoli soup recipe). Think on it: you can have expensive pre-cut florets at just one meal OR buy long-legged broccoli heads and have florets at one meal and soup at the next. Not only do you save money: you have more food. It’s frugal. It’s smart. It’s farmer-like.
I had a huge bag of stems leftover from making broccoli salad for 25 people. I lazily tossed them into a large pot with salt, pepper and some rough cut white onions and let it simmer in a tiny bit of olive oil until it started to caramelize. By lazy I mean: I didn’t even bother chop up the stems. I just used a big ole pot and turned the stems over with a pair of tongs when I was walking by. Next I added beer. It didn’t even cover the stems but I couldn’t be bothered. I let the stems simmer a bit, then added homemade chicken stock (DIY vegetable stock would be an appropriate alternative… but I already had chicken stock simmering on the stove—and this soup really was about easiest path to final result).
I let it simmer. And when I remembered it was on the stove an hour later, I pureed it and tossed it in the fridge. The next day I took out the soup, put it into a pot and heated it up. I then added: salt, white pepper and a hunk of cheese (I just rummaged through my fridge to find cheese remnants—I ended up using a Jack cheese that was studded with black and green peppercorns). Once the cheese melted into the soup, I finished it with a little half and half. Done.
Did I mention the family adored it? Said it was the best broccoli soup they ever tasted. Huh.
I should call it:
Lazy Girl Broccoli Stem Soup
a few T of olive oil
optional: herbs. I think I added some dried thyme or marjoram.
Beer (pale ale, IPA, Mexican beer)
Half and half
KS&WP (kosher salt and white pepper—a lot of each, coarsely ground)
I know. No portions or exact amounts. Here is the gig: I put in stems (with part of one onion) and let is sizzle a bit in olive oil (plus any dried herbs, S&P)—then covered it halfway with beer. It simmered down to about 1/3 of the way up the stems. I then added broth to be level with the stems so they would cook. My soup was on the thicker side, but the next day when I heated it I added 1/2 and 1/2—just enough to get the consistency I wanted (which wasn’t a whole lot). Cheese? Eh, a few Tablespoons of shredded per serving. I added it as I re-heated the soup the next day. If your soup looks like it serves 6, add in 2/3 cup or so of cheese. Make sense? Trust me on this one.