With winter right around the corner, you can’t have enough warm, comforting dinner recipes in your arsenal. I mean, does anything take the edge off of a cold, dreary day any better than a steaming, cheesy bowl of, say, cheesy broccoli soup? In a bread bowl, no less?
Okay, maybe a roaring fire would take the edge off too. Or a bubble bath with a Lush bath bomb (butterball, please) followed up with a fresh new pair of fuzzy socks. Or a cuddle on the sofa and an episode of Breaking Bad queued up on Netflix.
But today we’re talking about comfort food so we’ll pretend that winter is your fever, and this cheesy broccoli soup is your only cure … your cowbell.
(I don’t think that skit will ever get old.)
This pure-comfort-food soup recipe is one of my favorites. I know, I know – I say that things are my favorite a lot. But, hey, who wants to read a blog where the blogger is all like, “eh, this isn’t very good, and I hate to eat it, but here – have this so-so recipe?”
So – yeah – it’s another favorite.
It’s creamy. It’s cheesy. It’s insanely delicious served up in butter-toasted sourdough bread bowls. And – bonus! – you sneak tons of broccoli in there and chances are very, very good that even broccoli-haters will love it.
Plus, it’s super easy to add ham at the very end, so it’s a beaut for starting out as vegetarian and then adding meat just for the carnivores.
Cheese. Broccoli. More cheese. In bread bowls.
This recipe is pretty much the fuzzy socks of the food world. And the cowbell.
- 6 small (individual serving size) sourdough bread boules
- 6 tablespoons butter + 1 tablespoon butter, divided
- 2 cups diced onion (about one large onion)
- 2 large cloves garlic, minced (about 1 tablespoon)
- ⅓ cup all-purpose flour
- 4 cups vegetable broth
- 2 cups 2% milk
- 2 pounds broccoli florets (about 6 cups)
- 1 bay leaf
- 2½ cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese plus more for topping
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1¾ cups diced ham for half / 3½ cups diced ham for all
- Heat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Using a bread bowl, cut a circle all around the top of the bread. Cut almost all of the way down to the bottom, but not all of the way through. Carefully lift out the section of bread. Brush the inside of the bread bowl and the inside of the piece you lifted out with 1 tablespoon melted butter. Bake for about 20 minutes until the edges of the bread begin to turn golden brown. Remove from oven and set aside.
- In a large stock pot over low heat, melt the butter.
- Increase heat to medium and add the onions. Saute, stirring frequently, until the onion is soft and translucent, about 5 minutes.
- Add the garlic and cook for one more minute, stirring constantly.
- Stir in the flour and continue cooking over medium heat for about 3 minutes, stirring frequently.
- Whisk in the vegetable broth and the milk. Stir in the broccoli and the bay leaf. Cook over medium, stirring frequently, until the mixture begins to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered and stirring frequently, for about 20 minutes until the broccoli is tender and the mixture thickens a bit.
- Remove from heat and allow the mixture to cool so that it’s safer to puree.
- Remove the bay leaf.
- Using an immersion blender, or working in batches with your blender, puree the entire mixture. Return to the pan and return to a simmer over medium-low heat.
- Add the cheese, stirring constantly until melted.
- Taste and add salt if necessary and plenty of fresh ground black pepper.
- If adding ham to half the soup, move about 5 cups of the soup to a medium saucepan. Stir in the 1¾ cup diced ham and warm over medium low until the ham is heated through, about 5 minutes. If adding ham to all, stir in to the soup and heat for an additional 5 minutes.
- Ladle into bread bowls and sprinkle with additional shredded cheddar cheese. Serve with the “top” of the bread bowl for dipping.