When I was growing up we never, ever had broccoli to eat. I had never even heard of the stuff. My dad would only ever eat a few vegetables . . . peas, beans, carrots, swede, potatoes and once in a while corn, and so my mom never cooked anything else.
And more often than not . . . they came from a tin. Ugh . . . tinned vegetables. Not so tasty . . .
We found a big black cricket in a tin of peas one time after we had already eaten half of the tin. It was years before I could bring myself to eat another pea, and then it had to be frozen . . .
To this day I only eat fresh or frozen peas. But . . . I digress . . . sorry about that!
Broccoli. The first time I ever had broccoli it was in Chinese food. I fell in love immediately! Both with the Chinese food (which I had never had growing up either) and with the broccoli. What were these tasty little green tree like vegetables???
It didn't take me long to find out, and I have been conducting a love affair with it ever since. Another one of the cruciferous family or Brassicacaea, the word broccoli is the plural of the Italian word Broccolo, referring to the flowering top of a cabbage. It's been around for several thousand years, although not eaten widely except in Europe until the past hundred or so . . . there are several different delicious kinds . . . ordinary, tender stem and my absolute favourite "purple sprouting" to name just a few.
Here's a tasty way that I like to use it. Adapted from a recipe that I found on the BHG site. You can use frozen broccoli florets if you wish, but when fresh broccoli is so readily available and inexpensive . . . why?
Use fresh . . . it's a good thing.
This soup is sooooo tasty!
*Creamy Chicken, Broccoli and Cheese Soup*
Serves 4 to 6 depending on how hungry you are
A wonderfully creamy soup filled with the lovely flavours of chicken, broccoli and cheese. This is a deliciously wonderful way to warm up on these cooler autumnal days. The cheesy croutons are the perfect capper!
4 bone in chicken breasts, skin discarded
1 litre of chicken broth (about 4 1/2 cups)
1 head of broccoli, chopped (about 4 cups)
(stems and florets)
1 medium onion, peeled and chopped
1 stalk of celery, trimmed and chopped
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and minced
1 425g tin of creamed style corn (about 2 cups)
8 ounces of sharp cheddar cheese, grated
125ml milk (1/2 cup)
125ml heavy cream (1/2 cup)
salt and pepper to taste
For the croutons:
1 small baguette
2 ounces grated sharp cheddar cheese
Place the chicken breasts in a large saucepan and cover with the chicken broth. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer until the meat is cooked and separates easily from the bones. Scoop out with a slotted spoon to a cutting board and set aside. Add the broccoli, onion, celery and garlic. Once again bring to the boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook for about 15 minutes, or until the vegetables are just tender. While your vegetables are cooking, remove all the meat from the chicken bones and cut into bite sized pieces. Once your vegetables are tender, using a stick blender, blitz it a few times. You don't want it completely pureed, so keep a few of the broccoli florets intact. Add the chopped chicken, cheese, corn, milk and cream. Heat through gently, stirring to melt the cheese. Season to taste with salt and black pepper.
To make the croutons, slice your baguette into 1 inch thick slices. Butter each slice lightly on each side. Heat your grill to high. Place the slices onto a baking sheet and toast under the grill, flipping over to toast them on both sides lightly. Remove from the grill and sprinkle evenly with the cheese. Pop back under the grill until the cheese is melted.
To serve, ladle the soup into hot soup bowls and float several croutons on top. Delicious!