Sunday, September 8, 2013

Potato Broccoli Blue Cheese Soup

  Ahhh...early September in upstate NY.  Weather-wise, it's a total crap shoot, and can be almost 90 degrees F in the day, only to plunge to just above freezing the next night.  It makes sartorial decisions tricky, and requires the ability to add/remove layers of clothing at a moment's notice.  Bring sweaters and/or sandals to just about everything.
   I can handle the vagaries of weather when it comes to my wardrobe with a certain amount of aplomb, but as someone who cooks largely based on weather (and, let's be honest, how many dishes I feel like doing.  Hello, cereal over the sink!), it can be infuriating.  Do I get ingredients for a salad at the farmer's market on Saturday, hoping for warm weather, only to be staring resentfully at a crisper full of vegetables while yearning for a warm braise on a cold day?  I realize that in relation to world issues, this does not leap to the forefront, but still.  A girl likes to plan.  Especially if that girl is a bit Type A.  Not that anyone here would fit that profile. 
  Since today was the designated day to fetch groceries, and the weather for the next 24 hours could reasonably be predicted (cool and autumnal...yay!), I could happily cook accordingly.  And for me, nothing says fall like a big pot of soup of some sort.  One pot, minimal dishes, and a divine smelling house?  I'm in.  And since I had a bag of potatoes verging on the iffy side of edible, potato soup of some sort was in order. 
  Broccoli and cheese soups of many stripes are common as dirt, and in my experience, inevitably a bit disappointing.  Bland in flavor, odd in color, etc.  A few years ago, I found a recipe that took the typical archetype and made it, you know...good.  Potatoes added for richness, and instead of cheddar, a healthy amount of blue cheese for tang and depth.  Some white wine and garlic, and it's a home run.  This is a relatively light soup, which is ideal for dinner with some toasted bread and perhaps a salad.  Or three bowls in succession, and you can call it a day.  I chose option B. Burp. 

Potato Broccoli Blue Cheese Soup


2 tbsp olive oil
2 potatoes, peeled and diced
1 onion, peeled and diced
3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1/2 lb (approx) broccoli florets, coarsely chopped
2 cups crumbled blue cheese
1 32 oz box chicken or vegetable stock
1/2 cup dry white wine
2/3 cup half and half
pinch of paprika
salt and pepper (to taste)
chopped chives (optional)

  • In a large soup pot or Dutch oven, heat oil over medium heat.  Add onions, potatoes and garlic, stirring constantly, for about five minutes, or until onions are fragrant and translucent.  (If you don't stir often, the potatoes will stick to the pot like mad.  You've been warned.)
  • Add the broccoli, stock, wine and blue cheese to the pot.  
  • Bring to a boil, then reduce heat, cover and simmer for about 30 minutes, or until potatoes and broccoli are fairly tender.  
  • For smoothest texture, puree the soup in 2 batches in a blender.  Alternately, you can use an immersion blender, which will yield chunkier results. 
  •  If using a blender, pour the now pureed contents back into the soup pot.  Add the half and half, paprika, and salt and pepper.  Heat gently over low heat until warmed through.
  • Add some chopped chives on top if you're feeling fancy.
  • Serve hot.
4 hearty servings