Broccoli & Cheese Potage

It's a lazy summer afternoon.... no, it's a busy summer night. You don't have the time, the ingredients, or the inclination to make anything too fancy or involved. But you want to eat healthy. You want a potage. Which in my view, is a creamed vegetable soup. It doesn't have to be thick as porridge. In fact I don't try to make it too thick here. I made mine medium, with a bit of body, and a consistency about that of somewhat thin applesauce. But it should have good, healthy ingredients. You keep all the vegetables in the pot, so the soup retains their nutrients. This recipe is both quick and easy to make; all you basically need is an appropriate vegetable. I had a broccoli that needed eating, so it's a broccoli potage. If you just have a cauliflower, make it a cauliflower potage. It could be cabbage, could be a squash. Zucchini might work. I add cheese and herbs for flavour, because it would be bland without it. The cheese I chose for this soup was "Oka" type; one of the stinkiest cheeses ever made, I think. Fortunately, it doesn't taste like it smells. If you want a richer meal, you can add cooked chicken, after processing the soup at the end.


8 c cold water (or chicken broth)
1 broccoli (including stems)
1 lg onion, chopped
2 cl garlic (opt)
1 T powdered chicken stock (if not using chicken broth)
1/2 t mint
1 t dill
Cheese, to taste (recommend fine soft cheese; ie. Oka, blue cheese, swiss, camembert. Could also be orange cheddar, brick, etc.)
2 potatoes, diced (about 1 cm)
salt and pepper, as necessary


Cut the broccoli florets from the stalk (wash in cold water). Cut about 1/2" off the bottom of the stalk. Peel the remaining stalk to remove the thick outer layer of skin (with a paring knife, you can peel it like a banana, if you start at the bottom of the stalks). Cut the skinned stalks into about 1" pieces. In a large soup pot (preferably enamelled cast iron), sauté the chopped onion and garlic at a low-med heat, until softened, but barely browned. Add the diced potatoes, sauté for a bit, then add the broccoli florets and stalk pieces. Sauté a minute or two, then add the cold water or chicken stock. Let the water come to a boil on high heat. Add the powdered chicken bouillon (if you started with cold water). Reduce the heat to medium; or whatever is enough to maintain a strong simmer. Simmer uncovered until the water has reduced by about anywhere from 2/3 (recommended) to 1/2; depending on how thick you prefer. At this point, the vegetables should no longer be hidden under the water, they'll be closer to the surface. This could be about 30 minutes or so of simmering. Once the soup has reduced enough, remove it from the heat. Add the cheese, stir with a spoon.

Insert a hand blender into the pot (or pour into a regular blender or food processor), and blend until the vegetables are homogenous and no large bits remain. You can also blend until some large bits remain, if you wish to have more textures (at the expense of a bit of flavor). Add the dried mint and dried dill (or fresh dill/mint is better, if you have it. Use 3x more if using fresh). Also, sprinkle a bit of pepper, if desired. Check if it needs salt, but careful not to oversalt if you're using powdered stock and salty cheese. Stir and serve with good, crusty, artisan made bread; such as one of the no-knead recipes.


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