Thursday, January 10, 2008

Broccoli, Red Pepper, and Cheddar Chowder

This delicious soup was the clear winner at our very first Soup Night.

Broccoli, Red pepper, and Cheddar Chowder
Inspired by the recipe from Gourmet Magazine (2001)

2 medium heads broccoli
2 medium potatoes, peeled and diced
1 large onion, diced
1 red bell pepper, cut into 1/2-inch dice
2 large garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 - 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, depending on saltiness of broth
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon dry mustard
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
4 cups vegetable broth
1 cup heavy cream (half & half is also very acceptable in this recipe)
2 cups sharp cheddar cheese

Thoroughly clean broccoli. Discard lower portion of stem, and peel remaining stem if tough. Cut remaining broccoli into very small (1-inch) florets.

Steam florets for 5-10 minutes, just until tender. Run under very cold water to stop cooking process.

Melt butter in soup pot over medium heat. Saute onion until beginning to soften. Add garlic, bell pepper, potato, and broccoli stems. Cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until onion is completely softened, 5-8 minutes. Add cumin, salt, pepper, and mustard and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Add flour and cook, stirring, 2 minutes. Add vegetable broth and simmer (partially covered), stirring occasionally, until potatoes are tender, about 10 minutes.

Stir in cream and cheese and cook, stirring, until cheese is melted, then season with salt and pepper. Partially puree soup in pot with an immersion blender, being sure to leave some texture to the soup. (OR purée about 2 cups of chowder in a blender until smooth and then return to pot).

Add florets and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until heated through, about 2 minutes.

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