Thursday, March 02, 2006

From My Files - Broccoli Bisque

During Lent, I will not be cooking dinner at home on Wednesdays and Fridays, as I will be at church for Presanctified Liturgies. So instead, I will pull a tried and true recipe from my files, but alas! No photos on Wednesdays and Fridays.

This recipe contains dairy, but no meat products. The Orthodox Church "eases" us into Lent by giving us the week prior to the official beginning of Great Lent, Cheesefare Week, when we begin abstaining from flesh, but still can eat dairy products. This is that week.

Broccoli Bisque

1 head broccoli, coarsely chopped. Peel the stems and slice.
1 1/2 C vegetable broth
1/4 onion, coarsely chopped
1/2 tsp Herbes de Provence or seasonings of your choice
dash pepper to taste
1 Tbs cornstarch
2 C cold milk
3 - 4 oz sharp cheddar cheese, grated and divided

Simmer everything together except for the cornstarch, cheese and milk, until all the veggies are very soft. Puree the veggies - I use my immersion blender for this - leaving as much texture as you like. Stir the cornstarch into the cold milk (milk MUST be cold to avoid lumps), and pour into the pot, stirring all the while to avoid lumps. Add half the cheese. Stir soup over medium heat until thickened to your liking. Taste for salt - depending on the saltiness of the broth and the cheese, you may not need any.

Serve garnished with the rest of the grated cheese. This is delicious with a grilled cheese and tomato sandwich on the side.

Notes: I often do not have pre-made veggie broth on hand, so I tend to use Vogue low-sodium instant Veggie Base which I purchase at the local health food store. Its a lifesaver! I also use a squirt of Sriracha on mine, because I like the look of the pale green soup with the orange cheese and the red hot sauce, and also because I like my food spicy. Any vegetable can be used in this soup, and it is just as delicious without the cheese. This is a wonderful way to use up leftover veggies and dried out edges of cheese as well.

To make this recipe vegan: Omit the cheese, or use soy-based vegan cheese. I usually just omit it. Replace the milk with more veggie stock, or even add a splash of white wine or lemon juice to brighten the flavor. Cook a peeled and cubed potato along with the broccoli - this will provide the creaminess that the milk gives.

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