Tuesday, February 3, 2009

A Superbowl Food Hangover....and Fresh & Frugal Broccoli Cheddar Soup

Did I hear chatter about some big football game on Sunday night? And buzz over some hilarious commercials and a bigshot musician who played at half time?

Don't look at me....I wouldn't know. I wasn't paying attention....mostly because (and I'm not exactly proud of it) I was face down in this:

....totally addicting Layered Chipotle Taco Dip. Oh mama. I'll get to the soup in a minute but first things first.

This is a different and slightly grown up version of the taco dip we've all seen at the grocery store and scarfed down at parties. This recipe is made a bit more sophisticated with the addition of a smoky chipotle salsa and a slightly tart cilantro lime cream layer....mmm. See how easy it would be to get a little bit distracted?

I made it with several sale items, including two products I'd never tried before -- Amy's Spicy Refried Beans, and Amy's Chipotle Salsa, both outstanding products that I will definitely buy again (when they're on sale though; Amy's products are great, but they're not a regular purchase for a frugal gal like me). But I don't even want to talk about it right now.....it was so good -- too good. Maybe I'll share the recipe with you when I feel that I've purged myself from junk food for a few days. Ever have that feeling? Ugh. A junk food hangover is no good.

So I was craving a lighter dinner for Monday night -- something fresh, green, and healthy to counteract the feeding frenzy of the evening before. I found a wonderful recipe for Broccoli Soup with Cheddar, which hit the spot in two ways: it fullfilled the fresh and green requirement, and it was made with three sale items: broccoli crowns, baby vidalia onions, and aged sharp cheddar.
I loved this recipe for several reasons: first, it made great use of both the florets and the stems, with very little waste; and second, because the recipe doesn't call for pulverizing the soup to oblivion in the blender, you could actually tell that there was broccoli in the soup! The florets and the stems are added separately so that the stems will cook until tender, and the florets won't over cook, but maintain their bright, beautiful shade of green.

I served this soup with a big green salad and the sale demi baguettes from the bakery.... I'm feeling healthier already!

Broccoli Soup with Sharp Cheddar
Serves: 6
Source: epicurious.com

6 T. butter, divided; room temperature
2 pounds of fresh broccoli florets, stems and florets separated and chopped into bite-sized pieces
1 bunch of baby vidalia onions, white and pale green parts only, sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 dried tarragon
6 c. chicken broth
1 c. half and half

3 T. butter

2 c. grated sharp cheddar (about a half pound block)

Melt 3 T. butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add broccoli stems and onions, saute for about 6 minutes. Add the garlic and the tarragon, saute 1 minute. Add the chicken broth, bring to a boil. Simmer uncovered until broccoli is tender, about 15 minutes. Let cool slightly.

Transfer contents of the soup to a blender, being careful not to fill it all the way (unless you enjoy scraping soup off of your ceiling). Place the lid on the blender, removing the center plastic piece so that the steam can vent. Using a clean kitchen towel, gently hold the lid in place and start the blender on LOW. Wait a few seconds and then up the speed to medium, and blend until smooth.

Tranfer soup back to pot. In a small bowl, mix the remaining 3 T. butter and the flour with a fork to make a paste. ** Whisk the paste into the soup. Add the broccoli florets. Simmer until the soup thickens and the florets are tender, about 5 minutes.

Preheat the broiler. Place 6 ovenproof bowls on a baking sheet. Divide soup among the bowls. Sprinkly 1/3 c. cheese over each. Broil until cheese melts and bubbles around the edges, about 4 minutes.

** Since I'm sure you want your money's worth for the time you spent reading this entry, I will tell you something you might not already know: the fancy French term for this mixture is 'beurre manie' (pronounced 'burr mon yay'), which translates into "kneaded butter". This is an easy technique you can use to thicken soups, sauces, and gravies.

Time well spent reading this blog today, right? At least you can walk away with some useful knowledge!

And if you must have the Chipotle Taco Dip recipe, I'll be posting that in the sidebar as well.

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