Thursday, September 26, 2013

Creamy Broccoli Soup

Sophomore year in college I took the funnest job ever as a food delivery girl for a popular Dallas restaurant called "Dalt's Grill" on Lover's Lane and Inwood road. It was basically a Chili's or a TGI Friday's knockoff founded by two guys named Dave and Walt, hence the name Dalt's (terribly imaginative, I know). Almost all my friends worked there and it was a total win for me because I had the freedom to drive around town listening to my favorite techno music while making pretty good tips and scoring some free food after my shift was over. We were a tight knit group and often went out to blow off some steam only to collapse in bed for a few hours before our next shift or class the following morning. How I managed to live off of barely any sleep, cheap wine and Dalt's food is a wonder and testament to the endurance of a young body. And I'm paying for it today. But I wouldn't trade any of our debauchery for one second as it was a glorious time and our last chance to live wild and free before the constraints of adulthood wrapped their vise like grips around our slender throats.

One of my favorite post shift treats was Dalt's broccoli cheese soup. I adored the stuff! Naturally since it contained some overcooked broccoli I assumed it was super healthy so slurped it down with abandon to prepare for the night ahead of partying. (I also had the incorrect assumption that cranberry juice in my vodka made my cocktails healthy, and high carb dishes were the key to staying thin as long as they contained no fat). I miss you 1990s. Ignorance was true bliss.

All that fun living has caught up to me and I must now spend my spare time practicing yoga poses, meditating and eating lots of cruciferous veggies. And not the kind served in a salty, preservative laden processed cheese base either! I've enlightened my appreciation of broccoli soup with a simple and delicious soup made from the freshest ingredients that is every bit as satisfying as that unrefined concoction I devoured at Dalt's.


Florets of two organic broccoli crowns
1 cup of fresh organic spinach or kale leaves
3 cups low sodium chicken stock (preferably homemade or organic stock from a box- not a can)
1/4 cup sweet white wine such as a Reisling
1 large carrot, diced
1 small yukon potato, diced (optional but it thickens the soup nicely)
1 medium yellow onion, diced
3 cloves roughly chopped garlic
2 tbs butter
1/4 cup cream (this is not a low fat recipe, but a helluva lot healthier than that Dalt's soup!)
2 bay leaves
2 sprigs fresh thyme
about 1 tsp sea salt or to taste
1 tsp white pepper

For garnish:
fresh chopped chives & tarragon or chervil

In a 5 quart soup pot I melted 1 tablespoon of butter and softened the onions, carrots and potatoes about 8 minutes over medium heat. I added the wine, herbs and turned up the heat and cooked about 3 minutes until the alcohol has dissipated. Always be sure to cook off the alcohol before adding any stock as you just want the sweetness left over and no raw wine taste.

Then add the stock, cover and cook about 15 minutes to soften the potatoes and carrot. Add the broccoli and spinach or kale, cover and cook another 15 minutes until the broccoli is softened.

Transfer to a blender (invest in a good one such as a vitamix or ninja as they really do a bang up job pureeing soups). Pour it back into your clean soup pot to rewarm, stir in cream and 1 tbs butter. Now please listen to me here: the fat from the butter and cream is what makes this soup taste delicious. You can omit them or maybe even use some half and half, but a cupful of this soup will not send you into the fatosphere, so live a little! Ladle into warmed soup bowls and garnish with fresh herbs and a bit more coarse sea salt. Another charming serving option I discovered on a recent trip to Clark's Oyster Bar is to nestle the herbs in the spoon and serve it alongside the bowl so your guests, or you, can swirl in the fresh herbs. If I weren't gluten free, I'd toast up some fresh croutons to sprinkle on top.

As you can see by my posts, I really love green soups, and while this one may be a little decadent, it's terrifically healthy as well. It's all about living a balanced life. Namaste.

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