In autumn, when the vegetables are still crispy and fresh, soup hits the menu, big time. Broccoli and cheese soup is a long-time favorite that I don’t indulge in very often. It’s the guilt of the cheese, don’t you know. Healthy soup it isn’t — despite its high vegetable content — so I save it for special occasions.
Such as when the veggies in my garden are so fresh and flavorful that they deserve extra special treatment. (Or when I need the comfort of creamy cheese sauce, whichever moment applies.) Then broccoli gouda soup hits the menu.
I was so happy with my broccoli harvest this fall. My plants quickly formed perfect little broccoli heads, and grew in green perfection, tolerating cold, frost, and some rather dry conditions, even as the rest of the garden was slowly throwing in the towel.
Carrots still grow in abundance — even now, in December — and a quick trip out to the garden (plus onions from storage, and celery preserved in the freezer), means a very tasty mirepoix for whatever soup I’ve planned for dinner.
I often use cheddar cheese in my broccoli and cheese soup, but I found a lovely gouda at the Murray’s Cheese Shop housed within my Kroger. Gouda with fresh-from-the-garden broccoli? Yes, please.
Wanting to preserve the flavor of the gouda and not drown it in dairy, I made a veloute instead of a bechamel, which simply substitutes broth for dairy in the sauce. The result is lighter, savorier — the perfect addition to broccoli gouda soup.
Broccoli gouda soup
Use a fairly young gouda, aged no more than a year, to keep the soup from becoming grainy.
for the soup
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small onion, diced
1 medium carrot, diced
1 stalk celery, diced
2 to 3 broccoli heads (about 12 ounces), florets only
3 cups vegetable stock
1/2 cup orzo pasta (I used orzo corn pasta)
salt and pepper to taste
for the veloute
3 tablespoon butter
3 tablespoons flour (or 2 tablespoons coconut flour)
1 cup vegetable stock
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon prepared mustard
1 cup gouda, grated
1/2 cup melting cheese, such as fontina, sliced into small cubes (or grated, if it can withstand the grater)
Prepare the soup: Heat the olive oil in a large stock pot or dutch oven over medium until shimmering. Add the onions, carrots, and celery, and saute until soft. Stir in the broccoli and heat for several minutes, until the florets turn bright green. Raise the heat to medium-high and add 3 cups of a vegetable stock. Bring to a boil, stir in the orzo, and reduce heat to maintain a gentle simmer.
Prepare the veloute: Melt the butter in a medium sauce pan over medium. Stir in the flour to create a thin paste. Begin adding the 1 cup of vegetable stock, a little at a time, stirring all the while to incorporate and smooth out the flour paste. Continue heating until the sauce thickens and is creamy. Add the Worcestershire sauce and the mustard, combining well with the sauce. Remove the pan from the heat and add the cheese. Stir until melted and completely incorporated into the sauce.
Use an immersion blender to smooth out the soup to your desired consistency. (I like to leave some large bits of broccoli florets for texture.) Pour in the veloute and stir well to combine. Taste, and add salt and pepper to suit.