Autumn is in the air. Even though the trees aren't turning their gorgeous colors yet, the nights are cool and the air smells of fall. It was a gorgeous day here in the Berkshires and I went out for a late afternoon hike to clear my head and get the blood pumping. My borrowed dog, Ginger, waited all day for me to get my act together and take her out for a hike. She's such an awesome companion!
Cooler weather means warmer foods. I love soups in the fall and winter. Cheap and easy to make, especially when you need to clean the refrigerator out of the week's leftovers or use up miscellaneous veggies in the crisper. I usually make my own veggie and chicken stocks (save those celery tops, onion peels, mushroom stems, herb stems, beef & chicken bones, etc.)
Broccoli soup is one of my favorites (and so nutritious - more about that below); wish my teenage daughter would eat it. I keep telling her one day she'll like broccoli; I just get a scowl and "gross mom I'll never like it". This time of year broccoli is available at the local farm markets (and usually quite inexpensive; organic preferred). No cream needed in this soup! I prefer this dairy free version; creamy due to the addition of oatmeal. There are various options for stock and herbs; so, adjust according to your tastes.
I am not vegan, so I use what I have on hand which sometimes includes chicken stock and/or butter/ghee.
1 tablespoon olive oil or other vegetable oil (butter/ghee works too)
1 large onion, chopped (about 2 cups)
1 stalk celery, diced (1/4-1/3 cup)
2 garlic cloves, chopped/sliced
1/2 tsp salt (omit if using stock with salt added)
2 large broccoli stalks (yes, you need the stalks; don't just buy crowns)
4 cups water, vegetable stock or chicken stock (home made or store bought low salt)
1/2 cup rolled oats (whirl in a blender about 15 seconds) or use 1/3 cup quick oats
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon fresh herb of choice (or 1 tsp dried) such as dill or thyme or oregano.
black pepper (optional)
In a soup pot warm oil over medium heat and add onion, celery, garlic, and salt (if using). Partially cover and let cook about 10 minutes stirring occasionally.
Wash broccoli and cut crowns into florets (you should have 4-5 cups). Reserve 1-2 cups florets.
Peel stems to get at the tender part of the stalk and chop (about 2 cups).
Add broccoli (except reserved florets), herbs, and water/stock to pot. (Do not be tempted to add more liquid; the water/stock will just cover the vegetables. Too much water will make the soup too thin; you can always add more later if you like a thinner soup).
Cover and bring to a gentle boil; lower heat and simmer about 5 minutes. Add oats, cover and simmer about 10 minutes (stir occasionally) until vegetables are tender and soup thickens. Don't worry if oatmeal clumps.
In a glass measuring cup, add reserved florets and cover with water. Microwave on high a few minutes until crisp tender and bright green; drain. Or, cook in small pot or steamer on the stove.
Remove from heat and add lemon juice and black pepper. Puree soup with an immersion blender (or let soup cool and whirl in a blender/food processor in batches) until smooth.
If eating immediately, add florets. If not eating immediately, let soup cool completely before adding florets and refrigerating.
Broccoli, a cruciferous vegetable, is one of the healthiest veggies you can eat (along with other greenies such as kale, collards, swiss chard, bok choy). What does it do?
- can help lower cholesterol (steamed/cooked is best)
- supports detoxification (helps get rid of toxins in the body)
- 1 cup supplies 250% RDA of Vitamin K and along with Vitamin A helps rebuild Vitamin D stores. (As a New Englander, I take a Vitamin D supplement Fall-Spring).
- has anti-inflammatory benefits
- can help people suffering from allergies
- provides many vitamins (C, B6, E, B1, B2) and minerals (chromium, phosphorus, zinc, iron, and many more).