Loaded Potato, Broccoli and Cheese Chowder

I always enjoy starting my lunch or dinner meal at a restaurant with a cup of soup. Except for French onion soup, which I don’t like, or something very spicy, I’m quite open to a wide assortment of soups, like creamed ones, thick ones with grains, like barley, orzo or others with meatballs, poultry, cheeses, and soups with various meats and fish. Some soups straddle between stews and soups, and those I like too, such as Hungarian goulash, a ragout or a chili. I’m particularly fond of certain beans, like kidney or black, and add them judiciously to whatever dish I want, if they seem to fit in.

I had the hankering for a broccoli- cheese soup after eating it at a hospital when visiting a friend. it was quite good, and thought I could do a better job. The chef t here made it creamy, and it remained that way throughout my meal. Often times in the past as I ate such a soup at a restaurant the liquid would turn watery towards the end of my meal, which was a real turn-off. In addition, this soup did not have any potatoes, but I decided to add that to my new recipe.

After scouring several versions of this soup, I found one on the internet and changed it to my liking. I added carrots, which seems to fit well with the other ingredients plus adds nice orange color. I also made other adjustments to create a fresh new soup. Thickening the soup at the end created a chowder, quite nice for a chilly winter’s day and truly loaded with flavor!

INGREDIENTS Serves 6-8

2 Tbsp olive oil

2 shallots, or 4 scallions, chopped

3 garlic cloves, minced

2 carrots, sliced

2 lbs broccoli, stems peeled and chopped large and florets cut into 1-inch pieces (6-7 cups) – separate stems and florets

7 cups water, or combination of chicken broth and water

3-4 cups Yukon Gold or red potatoes – chopped about 1-inch pieces

3 cups cheddar, Gruyere, and/or Fontina cheese, grated

salt and pepper

1/2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce

2 Tbsp butter

1/2 tsp Maggie seasoning sauce or Golden Mountain (seasoning sauce)

5 Tbsp flour mixed with a little more than half a cup cold water

1 tsp mixed herbs to your liking, such as dill, oregano, thyme, rosemary

PROCESS

1 In a large pot or Dutch Oven, heat the olive oil to medium-high. Add the carrots and shallots or scallions and reduce the heat to medium and stir occasionally for 3-5 minutes as the vegetables turn a bit tender. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Reduce the heat to low and add the garlic and cook another minute. Do not let the garlic turn brown. Add the broccoli stems not the florets and potatoes, cook a few minutes, turning occasionally.

2 Add the water, make sure the broccoli and potatoes are totally covered, if not, add more liquid. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes as vegetables get about halfway cooked. Add the Worcestershire sauce and Maggie seasoning or Golden Mountain. Add the broccoli florets and cook 10-15 minutes more. As the potatoes tenderize, remove them to a bowl, and partially but coarsely mash them, stirring in the butter. Then return them to the large pot and cook everything on low-medium heat for about 5 minutes more, checking to see if more salt is needed and that vegetables and potatoes are soft.

3 In a medium bowl stir well the flour and water. Raise the soup to a boil and add the flour mixture and let it boil for 1-3 minutes as the soup thickens to desired consistency. Reduce the heat. For a creamier but nice smooth texture, add about half a cup of milk, sprinkle the herbs on top, reheating slightly.

4 Remove the pot from the stove and gently stir in the cheeses. Adjust any seasonings and serve warm or hot, with a chilled salad and crusty bread on the side.

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