Meatless Mondays: Pure and Simple Broccoli Soup

Mayo and cheddar just mask the flavor of the vegetable—so why use them?

Ian Knauer is a regular contributor to TakePart. He worked for ‘Gourmet’ and is the author of the IACP Award–nominated cookbook ‘The Farm.’

We’re getting to the time of year when cool-weather crops are at their peak. It’s this season when pumpkin tastes, well, like pumpkin and doesn’t benefit from the over-use of spices that we so often cover it with. It’s the time when apples taste like apples and Brussels’ sprouts are at their best.

There are a few vegetables, however, that no matter the time of year, get a bad name. Broccoli is one, but for what? In fact, when it’s fresh and ripe, like it is now, broccoli is awesome. It’s bold-tasting and slightly sweet.

It is true that we’ve all had over-cooked, farty versions of broccoli. These are often from frozen produce or out of season broccoli that’s been flown in from afar. And in these cases, wise cooks will cover the not-so-great flavor with tasty disguises, like cheddar cheese or mayonnaise. But when your broccoli is fresh, you should let it shine through.

I like to make a broccoli soup without chicken stock or cheddar cheese getting in the way of the vegetable’s flavor.

Pure and Simple Broccoli Soup

Serves 6

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 medium onion, chopped

3 garlic cloves, chopped

Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 lbs broccoli, chopped and coarse stems peeled

7 cups water

8 oz cream cheese or vegan cream cheese.

In a medium heavy pot, heat the oil over medium heat until hot, then stir in the onion, garlic, and 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Stir in the broccoli and water and simmer, partially covered, until the broccoli is tender, 15 to 20 minutes.

Puree the soup in batches in a blender and return it to the pot. Stir in the cream cheese, then season with salt and pepper to taste. Divide the soup between bowls and serve.

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