Thursday, December 30, 2010

Decadent Broccoli Cheese Chowder

I loved Broccoli and Cheese so much that as a kid, I dressed up as it for Halloween. I'm serious.

Over the years my passion has mellowed a bit, but I'm still the one nibbling at the last couple of florets on Fondue Night and I just about lost it when I found out Gramma had made Broccoli Cheese Casserole (in all its mayonnaise-drenched, condensed soup goodness) for Christmas Dinner. Yeah, I ate some of what I cooked - but at least as much BCC went down the hatch.

Since I cook for a couple of gluten-free women, I wanted to try different thickeners, instead of flour - cornstarch seemed an obvious choice, but maybe I could minimize the starch by using goat cheese and extra potato?

Yes I can, and did, and I gotta say - best B+C Chowder ever made by Moi.

Broccoli Cheese Chowder

1 small head brocolli
2 medium yukon gold potatoes, peeled and diced largishly (my pieces were all about 1/2 inch wide)
1 small onion
2 carrots
2 stalks celery
4 cloves garlic, minced
3 scallions, minced
Small handful parsley, minced
1 cup milk or cream
2 tablespoons butter
4 ozs fresh goat cheese
A rather large amount of freshly grated black pepper
Salt to taste
6 cups vegetable stock or water and boullion equivalent
3/4 pound sharp cheddar cheese, grated, tossed with 1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tsp mustard
1 tsp lemon juice
Scallions, shredded cheddar, hot sauce or Jalapeno Oil to garnish (recipe for Jalapeno Oil at page bottom!)

Let's do this.

Melt your butter in a medium stock pot and add onion, celery, carrot, garlic. Over medium high heat, stir veggies every 2 minutes while keeping pot covered until they soften, about 6 minutes. Covering the pot in between stirs helps to steam the veggies, thus quickening their cooking time.

Add your brocc, stir, cover once more and cook 2 minutes, until it has turned bright green. Add stock, potatoes, scallions, parsley, pepper, mustard and lemon juice, and simmer soup for 10-12 minutes, until potatoes are very soft. Remove from heat.

Use an immersion blender to carefully blend your soup to the desired consistency - I went for pretty well-blended with some large chunks for kicks. Return to the heat and add your cream, cheddar, and goat cheese. Stir well and let it all melt and blend. Taste for salt and add, if needed.

Sprinkle any remaining cheddar over the top along with parsley or scallions, and serve. If you want a little heat, try the Jalapeno Oil described below. Nom.

Jalapeno Oil

1 large jalapeno
1/2 cup flavorful olive oil
Parsley, scallions, garlic, whatever herb strikes your fancy

Put it all in a blender and whizzzzzz until everything's emulsified. Strain through cheesecloth or a fine-mesh sieve. Serve.

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