I usually set aside broccoli stems. I sometimes make cream of broccoli soup. I sometimes slice the stems into matchsticks and use them in stir-fry or fried rice. I sometimes end up putting the stems in the compost bin. When I do get around to making soup, there is usually a large amount of raw stems and a small amount of leftover cooked flowerets left. I peel the stems and chop them into dice, cook them, then chop up the flowerets finely and add them at the end.
The first time I made this for Michael, it was the height of summer, and he was living on North 4th Rd. in Arlington. I believe that this took place in that brief period before we officially moved in together. I had the ingredients for it and so I made it, though I think it was 95 degrees outside. Since Michael did not have a dining room table, we sat on the floor in the bedroom (as close to the air conditioner as we could bear) and had Cream of Broccoli soup and popovers and pretended it was winter. I made popovers when I made this soup this week, too, in fact. It’s a good accompaniment.
This is a good blueprint for “Cream of” soup – you could use cauliflower, potatoes, asparagus, carrots, peas – it’s pretty flexible. The white wine gives it a nice tartness and keeps it from being too Campbell’s-y.
This is adapted from the new Joy of Cooking – they put too much water in it, (as I did the first time I made it) so I’ve reduced it, along with a couple other small changes.
Heat in a soup pot over medium heat until the butter is melted:
¼ c. water or stock
1 T. unsalted butter (optional – you can use oil instead)
Add and cook, covered, stirring occasionally, until tender but not browned, 5-10 minutes:
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
2 cloves garlic
1/8 tsp. ground nutmeg
2 c. vegetable stock
1 c. white wine
1 ½ lbs. trimmed broccoli stems, diced
Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer until the broccoli stems are tender, 15-20 minutes. If they aren’t tender after 20 minutes, continuing to cook them until they are tender is fine. Overcooking them a little will be easier on your blender than undercooking them a little. Once the stems are tender, puree the soup – a standard blender will handle it in two batches. Return the soup to the pot and stir in:
the reserved chopped broccoli flowerets
1/3 c. heavy cream
salt and pepper to taste
¼ t. paprika
Simmer briefly and serve (in warm bowls, if you’re that coordinated). Garnish with chives, if you have ‘em, a dash of paprika, or a swirl of cream.