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A Creamy Cheese Soup That's Good for You

This entry is part of a series, RdJ Marathon»

Broccoli Cheese Soup

Until I got to graduate school, I detested broccoli. In any form. It was often bitter, and usually overcooked. Even butter or cheese sauce couldn’t hide the taste or the texture.

Why the change at grad school? Well, I could have my own garden. In fact, students who didn’t garden not only ate less well, they had less pocket money. Graduate students, at least way back when, were working poor. A good garden was an essential.

Utah has a climate where broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts grow excellently, when properly cultivated. So, rather than starve I learned to grow and eat these vegetables.

Actually, my real intention was to sell or barter these items to other suckers graduates and get rich have some spending valuta while getting my doctorate. Once I saw how they were cooking these eats, though, I changed my mind and learned how to cook them myself.

It was one of the best things I learned during those five years. (Besides how to make beer and wine, I mean.)

Gruyere cheese is actually Swiss cheese that didn’t get the holes. Instead, it got a more sophisticated, complex flavor. A Swiss cheese for adults. I use this cheese to top all sorts of soups and toasted bread, including my version of French Onion Soup. Here’s a soup that uses the cheese IN the soup:

This version is based on Emeril Lagasse’s, and it certainly comes out like chef food when you make it! Don’t let the “chefiness” scare you off, though; it’s dirt-simple. (That’s Texan speak for even you can make it, ’cause I can.) You can see Emeril’s Louisiana touches in there, with celery and cayenne pepper, not to mention his Essence seasoning. You can use sea or kosher salt and ground white pepper instead, if you’d prefer. (I don’t recommend black pepper; it makes it look like you really did get dirt in the soup.) If you don’t have Essence, then use seasoned salt. Or skip it; no huhu.

If you don’t have a stick blender (one of those little electric trolling motors for the kitchen), then let the soup cool a bit and purée in a food processor in batches. Just remember, this stuff can give you quite a nasty burn! So use proper protection when pouring hot soup around. You might even consider this a good time to go get one of those immersion blenders, they’re not so expensive anymore.

If you plan to serve this to guests and you want it to look extra-pretty, then try this. Save some of the broccoli aside, and steam it while the soup cooks. Don’t purée the reserved broccoli; instead, add it just before serving. Copy some parsley or cilantro for garnish, or even try sliced olives (black and green), sliced green onion or avocados.

One last caution: Don’t dump the cheese in all at once. Take it from a pro, that can really mess things up. Add in small handfuls, and stir between batches. Once the soup is all melted you’re good to go…

Enjoy the (Creamy Green & White) Heat!

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