CHEESE JOURNEY:BROCCOLI & CHEESE SOUP RECIPE
By FOOD/WINE/TRAVEL Curator, Monte Matthews
If you follow HipSilver on Instagram, you’ve seen that, in May, I went on an incredible trip in England. I joined Cheese Journeys, a remarkable travel company specializing in taking Cheese aficionados on in-depth Cheese Tours. We went from London to Wiltshire, Devon, and Somerset, seeing Cheese being made and much, much more in the glorious, English countryside. We sampled wines, ciders, and charcuterie. We sat down with their creators at wonderful meals. I’d love to share my story of my own Cheese Journey: Broccoli and Blue Cheese Soup.
Created by one of the two private chefs who accompany the cheese travelers, this soup was a huge hit. All my fellow Cheese Heads were clamoring for the recipe. I took it upon myself to sit down with the chef and get it. This is a lovely, rich, and creamy soup. Broccoli and a slew of supporting vegetables create a broth to which cream and blue cheese are added at the last moment.
I made a huge batch of soup; this recipe yielded 2 quarts. I served 1½ cup portions. In retrospect, the soup is so rich a single cup would be a more sensible portion and this recipe will yield 8 servings of that size. As I wanted the Stilton to come through, I used a full half-pound of cheese. This soup was served at lunch with a buffet of cold ham, hard-cooked eggs, and several salads. It would be a very nice opening to a dinner party.
The one caution ringing in my ears as I ladled the leftover soup into containers was the admonishment by one of my fellow travelers and cheese authorities, Jamie Png: “never, never, never freeze cheese.” If you don’t serve all the soup at once, enjoy it over the next day or two.
The Chef behind the broth was Musa Francis. Half Indian, half English “with a touch of French thrown in”, Musa is a private chef in London and, believe it or not, has a very specific clientele: Architects. He counts some very famous names among his patrons, and this soup makes it easy to taste why.
Take your time cooking it. Let the leeks, onion, and garlic melt into the butter before adding the celery, carrots, and broccoli stalks and cook them down before adding the chicken stock and water. Cook that for a good half hour or more. Puree the soup with an immersion blender (If you don’t have one, use a blender and purée the soup in batches). Add the florets for a further 15 minutes, puree again. Then add the cream and the cheese, use a heavy hand with the salt, and taste as you go along.
Here is the recipe:
Makes 2 Quarts. Serves 8.
¼ pound Unsalted Butter
2 Leeks, sliced, white parts only
1 Sweet Onion, diced
4 cloves of Garlic, crushed
½ head of Celery, sliced
1 cup Carrots, sliced
2 Heads of Broccoli, the stalks separated from the florets, in large dice.
Chicken stock 6 cups
2 cups water
1 cup of Heavy cream
1 cup Stilton, crumbled.
*I guilded the soup with cubes of pancetta for color and texture. The original soup did not contain these.
In a Dutch oven, melt the butter over medium-low heat. Add the leeks, onion, and garlic and cook them until softened and lightly browned for about 15 minutes.
Add the celery, carrots, and broccoli stalks and cook a further 15 minutes until they are softened.
Add the Chicken stock and water. Bring the soup to a rolling boil then turn the heat down and simmer for at least 30 minutes.
Use the immersion blender to thoroughly blend the vegetables into a smooth purée.
Add the broccoli florets and cook for about 15 minutes more.
Use the immersion blender again to puree the florets.
Add the cream and stir. Then add the Stilton (or other blue cheese) in chunks, pureeing and tasting as you go. Use salt liberally until the taste is just right.