Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Home Grown Tomatoes presents...Cheese?

Broccoli Cheese Soup

Home Grown Tomatoes is a weekly Vegan/Vegetarian column by Giovanina Bucci

Do you remember how I was mentioning in last week's post about how I was starting school? Well friends, it. has. started. Talk about feeling like a fish out of water - I'm supposed to have a 700 page book read by tomorrow, and I just started reading the thing last Thursday! Enter the good ol' tricks and tactics for getting by. At this point, I am all about first and last sentences of first and last paragraphs of each chapter. That counts, right? Ah well, it's a really refreshing feeling to be back in the classroom setting, thinking, discussing, learning, and challenging myself. I'm determined to be a better, more conscious (on many levels) person by the end of the year. This is step one.

In other news, I apologize if I have been over-souping you as of late. Although I know winter doesn't apply to quite everyone, between here in Flagstaff, folks living in the North Country, and even you Tennessee peeps, there's enough of us out there who can appreciate a deeply comforting dish of hot anything.

This broccoli cheese recipe brings me right back to sitting at my kitchen table on Oak Street, pretty much inhaling my mom's broccoli cheese soup. And making it again, and again, and again in my own home (I mean small, cluttered apartment) brings an enormous amounts of joy. Possibly the fact that, from start to finish, the vegan version of this soup takes no more than 15 minutes to make. So strap on that apron, turn on the tunes, pour yourself a glass of pinot, and get crackin'. (I might have been just describing to you my interpretation of a perfect evening there...)

Serving Size: 4 (if you're lucky)

3-4 Tbs. Earth Balance

1 med. yellow onion

3 1/2 C. broccoli (cauliflower, or both)

1-2 C. Rice Milk (veggie broth, or both)

6-8 oz. shredded vegan cheddar cheese (ex: Follow Your Heart)

2 Tbs. Tofutti cream cheese

3 Tbs. Tofutti sour cream (optional)

black pepper to taste

1 tsp. onion powder (or dried and minced onion)

dash of red pepper flakes (optional)

Begin by cooking the chopped onion in the butter on medium heat until translucent. Add the chopped broccoli and let it cook for about 7-8 minutes, occasionally stirring. About 5 minutes after the broccoli has begun to cook, I add a bit of liquid to prevent sticking and/or burning, and to help move the process along.

Shred the cheese directly into the pot and stir for a minute or so until the cheese is mostly melted. Finally, go ahead and add the remaining ingredients and turn the heat to medium low, stirring occasionally until everything has clearly melted together to create a smooth (ish) broth.

Go ahead and turn the soup down to low heat and puree two cups worth of broccoli and onion (and a bit of liquid) to help create a thicker texture. Pour pureed batches back in the soup and let it simmer on low heat until ready to serve.

That's it, my friends, that's it. If you're not a vegan, you can make some relatively easy adjustments to make this recipe, and also you'll be able to eliminate some of the ingredients. I'm sure you could use just heavy cream and cheese in order to obtain a similar texture and taste (replacing the rice milk, sour cream and cream cheese). The cream cheese does, however, add a nice punch of flavor. If you happen to have leftovers, don't be alarmed by the overnight thickening that occurs. When you heat the soup up the next day, you'll most likely need to add a bit of liquid.

Well, that's it for this week! Now go warm up and I am going to read....and read....and read until my eyeballs start doing funny things. Enjoy!

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