20 October 2010
Spicy Broccoli Cheese Soup
Have you ever had one of those days? When getting out of bed is a struggle, when you have a bad commute, when nothing seems to go quite the way you want at work...and you spend the whole day in a generally blah mood. Today was one of those days for me. There was no particular reason why, other than the onset of chilly, dreary weather here in Paris and the continuation of the general strikes that are currenly plaguing France. The combination of these two things seems to have everyone here in a sour mood lately, and I was certainly no exception today.
So when I got home, I knew that we had to have something warm and comforting for dinner. A hot bowl of soup was the first thing that came to mind. Looking around the kitchen, I saw that we had plenty of frozen broccoli florets that needed to be used up as well as a good hunk of cheddar cheese, brought recently by a friend visiting from the U.S. (yes, cheddar is an expensive rarity here in France...I normally would have used comté). Broccoli cheese soup, I thought immediately! But not just any broccoli cheese soup. Mine needed a little kick, a subtle bolt of spice to rock our palates and banish my blues. Opening the fridge, I found one lone green chili pepper from my last trip to the Indian grocery store. And the rest, as they say, was history!
SPICY BROCCOLI CHEESE SOUP
Makes 2 main course servings or 4 soup servings
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 bay leaf
1 medium onion, chopped
2 teaspoons garlic paste or garlic confit
1 green chili pepper (such as a serrano), chopped
3 1/2 cups (750 grams) frozen broccoli florets, defrosted
2 cups vegetable broth (or 2 cups water and 1 vegetable bouillon cube)
1 sprig fresh rosemary
2 teaspoons garlic & herb cheese (such as Boursin...in a pinch, garlic & herb cream cheese will do)
1 tablespoon crème fraîche
2 tablespoons grated cheddar (or comté) cheese
Salt to taste, if desired
1. Heat the olive oil in a large pot. Add the bay leaf, onion, garlic paste or confit (I used a wonderful garlic confit with mint and fresh chillies by Les Confits d'Amaury that I found at a gourmet market featuring artisanal products from around France at the Commerce Metro station here in Paris) and green chili pepper and saute until the onions are translucent.
2. Add defrosted broccoli, vegetable broth (or water and vegetable bouillon cube) and the sprig of rosemary. Bring to a boil. Remove the bay leaf.
3. Puree the soup in two batches in a blender.
4. Return to stove and stir over low heat. Add the garlic & herb cheese, crème fraîche and grated cheddar (or comté). Season with additional salt to taste, if desired.
5. Once you have poured the soup into serving bowls, use garnishes of your choice to make it pretty! A dollop of crème fraîche, additional grated cheddar/comté, red pepper flakes, fried onions...any or all of these would add a nice touch!