Broccoli and Cheddar Soup

Welcome one and all to what will be an ongoing series where I will share my adventures in making various dishes. I love cooking, but because I’m so fucking poor (and a cheap-ass to boot), I tend improvise substitutes for ingredients when I cook. This (hopefully) series of blogs will feature a wide variety of dishes that can be made with extremely cheap ingredients.

Recently, my room mate offered me several bags of frozen vegetables that she was going to throw out, with two of the bags being broccoli. Since I happened to have some cheddar cheese on hand, and having never had proper cheddar and broccoli soup, I decided it was a good opportunity to try something new. This soup has the added advantage of not needing a high-powered gas stove so you can make it on the electric range.

The Ingredients

The mise en place, minus black pepper and milk

Broccoli (cut into bite-sized pieces)
Cheddar Cheese
Chicken Broth (or make your own like I did)*

NOTE: If you can, prepare the cheese at least 2 hours beforehand by mincing or shredding it and leaving it out to warm up to room temperature. This lets the cheese melt better.

*Chicken breasts with skin and bone were on sale. De-skin and de-bone the breasts, throw away the skin but keep the bones for making stock. You also get some nice boneless chicken breasts.
**I used margarine, which is cheaper and presumably healthier
***Half of one, minced

The Process

This is my second time making this soup, so I had a general idea of what to do: create a cream sauce using butter, flour, and milk in one pot, prepare the chicken broth in another pot, cook the vegetables in one or the other pot, and bring everything together into one pot at the end before melting the cheese into the soup to finish the dish. It sounds sophisticated, but I’m really just winging the whole thing, using bits and pieces from several recipes I found online, since every recipe is calling for something different.

First, I filled a pot with about 3 cups of water, plopped the chicken in, and closed the lid. It takes a while for the water to come to a boil, so the broth is cooked in parallel with the sauce base.

To make the sauce base, first melt the butter (about 1-2 tablespoons) in the pot at low heat, and then slowly stir in an equal part of flour until you get something yellow and sandy, like this:

Do not eat the yellow sand

It is important to do this at low heat so that you do not burn the flour. You know you’re doing it wrong when the thing is turning brown. Stir for about 1-2 minutes. Then, start adding the milk in intervals and stirring until you get a creamy sauce with a nice sheen:

So I heard your mother likes a different kind of white sauce

This is known by the French as bechamel sauce, which is a basic sauce that can be used to make other sauces. It also looks pretty fucking impressive considering how easy it is to make. Once it has reached this stage, I added the onions so I can soften them while the sauce is cooking, which takes about 10 minutes. The onions provide a nice aroma and they combine exceptionally well with chicken broth and black pepper.

This looks totally different from the last picture. Dem white lumps be onionz.

At this point, I knew I fucked up on timing because the sauce was nearly done but the chicken stock wasn’t even close to boiling. Bummer. So I dumped the broccoli into the sauce to cook it instead of my original plan of softening it up in the chicken stock. The broccoli will also need about 10 minutes to cook anyways.

Almost done, minus cheese, minus chicken broth.

After a few more minutes of standing there and stirring the sauce pot, the chicken broth is finally ready:

This kind of looks like shit, but I did strain it before adding to the soup so it's all OK.

I added about 2-3 ladles (1.5 cups?) of chicken broth to the soup, then took it off the heat for a bit to lower the soup temperature. Optimally cheese should be melted at a low heat and only at the end of a dish. I added the diced cheese to the mixture and stirred until all the cheese was melted. The final product:

If cooking was on iccup I'd be a B- at least

The Result
4 / 5 – The sodium levels were a bit off (underestimated the saltiness of cheese) and I didn’t control for thickness as well as I thought. However, the chicken broth definitely brought something special to the soup and the cheddar cheese taste definitely came through. Goes well with a piece of toast or something similar.

Things to Improve
1) Frozen broccoli sucks. That frozen shit just doesn’t cut it, fresh is infinitely better.
2) Don’t add too much milk to the bechamel sauce. The chicken broth will thin out the sauce and is much tastier.
3) Add less salt. You can always add more salt after the cheese is melted.

And there you have it folks, broccoli and cheddar that’s doable for the piss-poor masses. Questions and comments welcome. Also, if you are a cook yourself and you know something that I did wrong or fucked up on, please share the knowledge so I can improve!

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1 Comment

  1. EZPZ Pasta « Food in Mind

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