I was looking at soup recipes for inspiration to enhance my broccoli soup. I found a Gordon Ramsey recipe that used only broccoli, salt, and water. He served it over walnuts andÃ‚ ashed goat cheese and a drizzle of olive oil. It looked amazing. So I decided to keep it simple, and here are the two versions I came up with:
Version 1: fresh
Sautee one finely chopped shallot and celery rib in a little bit of olive oil over medium heat until the vegetables are soft and translucent. Season with a little bit of salt and black pepper.
Prepare broccoli by chopping into large florets and peeling and chopping the tender part of the stalks.
Add enough water to the sauteed vegetables to cover the volume of broccoli that you are going to add. Bring to a rapid boil. Salt generously.
Add the broccoli, the water should still be at a rolling boil, cover the pot, and cook for 4-5 minutes until the florets are al dente – a sharp knife cuts through them easily (not mushy!).
Immediately strain the liquid into another container, and transfer the vegetables to the blender. Add some of the liquid. About 1/2 the volume of the blender for a thicker fresh soup and more (a couple inches below the top) for the creamy version.
Carefully blend the hot ingredients until smooth. (To avoid scalding, try this method: put a towel over the top and press down, pulse the blender a few times to mix ingredients, then blend.)
Taste and correct seasoning. The soup is ready to serve and tastes fresh and light. Phil thought it would also taste great cold, I agree and would add a handful of parsley and/or cilantro to the blender if I was serving it cold.
Garnish with fresh herbs (parsley, cilantro), Greek yogurt or sour cream, and a drizzle of olive oil, preferably really young, fresh, green, extra virgin olive oil (from Cortona if you can get it!).
Version 2: creamy
If you decided to make the creamier version, add about 2 tablespoons butter and/or olive oil back to original pot over medium heat. Stir in 2 Tbsp flour to form a paste.
Add 1 cup of milk (or 1/2 cup milk, 1/2 cup cooking liquid) and stir until thickened.
For broccoli cheese soup, add 1/2-1 cup shredded cheese (white cheddar, fontina, a good mild melting cheese) and stir until melted.
Return the pureed vegetable soup to the pot and heat through.
Add 1/2 tsp ground coriander. Taste and correct seasonings.
Garnish as above with fresh herbs (parsley, cilantro), Greek yogurt or sour cream, and a drizzle of really good olive oil.
Wine pairings: This soup would pair beautifully with many whites – Viognier, Albarino, Pinot grigio, Soave, stainless or lightly-oaked Chardonnay. Avoid heavily oaked or malolactic whites. A rose or light-bodied red would also be nice – Pinot noir, or try a red from Austria. We paired the soup with a Anton Bauer 2004 Wagram Cuvee No 10 – a Blaufrankisch, Zweigelt, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot blend. Cheers!