Brrrr! Some of the coldest weather of the winter season is blowing across the country this week, and boy oh boy! Are we ever feeling it here Up North! We’ll be hanging around the low teens (F) this week, and we’ll even be in single digits for a day or two.
With the winter winds blowing every ounce of warmth out of us, soup will definitely be on the menu this week in an attempt to keep us as warm as possible on the inside. Actually, I find the weather an incredible stroke of luck because I love hot soup, and it is Soup Week!
Soup Week will bring a whole lot o’ soup to the table because fourteen bloggers are each ladling up a different soup, a few loaves of bread, and OH! a Le Creuset Giveaway. (If your in to that sort of thing.)
Soup Week is bound to chase the chill out of this arctic air. Take that, jack Frost! Look for a schedule of all of the soupy deliciousness at the end of this post.
Speaking of soup…
I made a pot of my most-favorite soup in the entire world especially for Soup Week. Back in the days of being a Professional Computer Geek, my job was 100% travel, which meant that my co-workers and I were out braving the elements all day, every day–the postal service didn’t have anything on us! But on those blustery days where the wind would seemingly cut right through us like a hot knife through butter? Those were kind of days we’d find any excuse to meet up for lunch, just to get out of the cold and seek shelter in good conversation with friends.
Come winter, my BFF/co-worker Christie and I would regularly try to synchronize our routes to meet. Our team at work had a cute pager code for lunch meetings: 922.
Yes, I said pager. Hello, 1997.
Whenever we felt the need, we’d page each other with our car-mounted cell phone numbers, adding the extension 922 after it. As in, call me back because I’m freezing my hieney off out here and if I don’t eat lunch soon I might fade out of existence. So call me NOW! Or when your done at your customer site. Not a 911 emergency, but close enough.
So on cold, wintry days, we’d often schedule lunch meetings at a certain national bread chain that I was convinced had the best broccoli cheddar soup in a bread bowl in the entire world. I’m sure that they had other lovely entrees, but I was all about that soup in a bread bowl.
I mean, come on! Who doesn’t love a hearty, vegetable-laden cheese soup served in a bowl of carbalicious love?
That kind of soupalicious love can easily be made at home with a few simple ingredients.
I’m in a lovealicious kind of mood today, so with me. 😉
Chop the broccoli and into bite-sized pieces, and give the onion a good dice. If you’re like me and live in a house full of wanna-be-onion-haters, you might want to go a little finer than a dice with the onions–if they don’t see it, it doesn’t exist.
Melt the butter in a stock pot set over medium heat. Sauté the onions and carrots for five minutes, or until they’re soft.
Add the broccoli and garlic to the pot, and sauté for another minute or two.
The broccoli won’t be soft, but it will perk up and turn a nice, bright shade of green. Little known fact: brightly colored vegetables make a soup taste better.
Sprinkle the flour over the vegetables, stirring to coat.
Pour the chicken stock into the floured vegetables, continuing to cook and stir over medium heat until the base thickens.
Pour the milk into the thickened base, stirring to combine.
Continue stirring the soup while bringing it to a rolling boil that can not be stirred down. Once you’re there, turn off the heat.
Stir the cheese into the soup until it becomes smooth, velvety, and oh-so-cheesy.
A couple of artisan bread bowls are so much more exciting to serve soup out of than a plain ol’ ceramic bowl. These particular bread bowls can (and should!) be made at home in under an hour, with only 10 minutes of active effort.
No teasing of fooling! Anyone can do it.
Sons #1 & #2 love mixing the dough because it is so easy to assemble; just literally dump five ingredients into a bowl, stir with a wooden spoon, and refrigerate it until you’re ready for fresh bread. When the time comes, hack off a hunk of dough, roughly shape it on a cutting board, allow it a short rise, and then pop it in the oven. No kneading, no blooming of yeast, no weighing of ingredients, fuss, no muss–just really great bread that tastes like it came from a fancy bread shop.
Believe me when I tell you, I’ve tried to crack the code to delicious, crusty artisan bread at home for years without success until I found the right method. Zoe Francois and Jeffrey Hertzberg wrote a book called Artisan Bread and Five Minutes a Day. Their AB in 5 website offers a great step-by-step tutorial on the process.
They say their book revolutionizes home baking, and it truly does–if you’re convinced that you can’t make good bread at home or if yeast scares the bejeezes out of you, then I highly recommend you sourcing a copy of AB in 5.
Broccoli Cheddar Soup
4 Tbs. unsalted butter
½ C. chopped onion
1 C. carrots, scrubbed and thinly sliced (about 2 large)
3 C. broccoli flowerets, cut into bite sized pieces
½ tsp. minced garlic
½ tsp. kosher salt
1/8 tsp. black pepper
4 C. chicken stock
3 C. milk (2% or whole milk is best)
½ C. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. ground mustard
3 C. (12 oz.) shredded cheddar cheese
Sea salt and cracked black pepper to taste
- Melt the butter in a stock pot over medium heat. Add the onion and carrots, sautéing the veggies until they just begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Toss in the broccoli and garlic to sauté for one more minute.
- Sprinkle vegetables with the flour, ground mustard, kosher salt, and black pepper.
- Pour the chicken stock into the vegetable mixture, and simmer for 10 minutes, or until vegetables are tender, but not mushy.
- Stir the milk into the pot.
- Bring to a boil, stirring frequently, and cook for two more minutes, or until soup thickens.
- Remove soup from heat. Stir the cheese into the soup until it completely melts.
- Let soup stand for 5 minutes before serving with crusty bread or in an artisan bread bowl.
Note: Broccoli cheddar soup is best reheated in a pan on a stove top, to achieve the same consistency as when it was freshly made. Stirring constantly will help keep the soup from sticking to the bottom of the pan.
For the rest of today’s Soup Week festivities, click over to see My BFF/Roomie Katie/The Hill Country Cook is serving up her 3 Bean & Spinach Soup and hosting a fabulous Le Creuset Giveaway today on her blog.
Our favorite nursing student Haley/Girlie Girl Cooks shows us how they soup-it-up Montana style with her Hearty Vegetable Mexican Soup and Jalapeno Cheddar Cornbread.
For more Soupaliciousness this week, be sure to stop back each day for more incredible offerings:
- Madeline/Munching in the Mitten – Garbage Soup (She promises her soup is way more appetizing than it sounds.)
- Mads/La Petite Pancake – Gnocchi Pesto Soup
- Megan/Country Cleaver – 40 Clove Garlic Chicken Soup with Parmesan Croutons (!!)
- Lauren/Climbing Grier Mountain – Sunchoke Soup with Gorgonzola & Honey Crostini
- Monica/The Grom Mom – Coconut Curry with a lot of Aloha
- Carrie/Bakeaholic Mama – Beef Bourguignon with French Baguettes
- Kat/Tenaciously Yours – Eat Live Run’s White Chicken Chili
- Allison/Decadent Philistines – Arizona Mountain Soup with Cornbread
- Anne/From My Sweet Heart – Pink Prosecco Soup (for dessert!)
- Jeanne/Inside NanaBread’s Head – Shrimp Bisque
- Beka/Kvetchin Kitchen – Creamy Mushroom Soup