Typically, cream soups are thickened with a roux (typically a mixture of fat, like butter, and flour) and then enriched with cream or butter.
Here is one of my favorite soups - an inspiration from culinary school but with a little twist. It has always been one of my favorites and although it is considered a winter soup, it just seems like a perfect day for it!
This is a very simple and tasty vegetarian soup made even creamier by the addition of potatoes and leeks.
Velvety Cream of Broccoli Soup with Potatoes and Leeks
14 ounces potato, peeled, medium diced
1 onion (small), medium diced
1 lb broccoli, cut into florets
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
4 to 5 cups vegetable broth (can sub with just water or 1/2 water and 1/2 stock), heated
1 teaspoon lemon juice (1/2 lemon)
1 1/2 teaspoon ginger juice (1/2 ounce), optional
Salt and pepper to taste
Broccoli florets as garnish
Extra virgin olive oil as garnish
Peel, clean, and cut leeks into thin slices. Peel potatoes and onion and dice them. Wash broccoli by removing the stalks and cutting them into florets.
In a large pot, heat olive oil over medium flame. Add onions, leeks, and salt. Sweat until onions and leeks are softened (about 5-8 minutes). Stir often to prevent browning.
Add potatoes and broccoli to the pot and cook for a few minutes, stirring, then add hot vegetable broth (or water), salt and pepper to taste. Continue cooking on low heat and simmer with lid ajar for about 30 minutes or until broccoli and potatoes are very tender.
Ladle a small amount of liquid with the solid, a little at a time, into a blender. The blender should be no more than 2/3 full. Blend soup until creamy, adding additional hot stock (or water) if too thick or to achieve a desired consistency.
Return soup to pot. Re-heat and season to taste with lemon, ginger juice (optional), salt, and pepper.
Garnish with small broccoli florets and a drizzle of raw extra virgin olive oil.
Leeks are part of the Allium family that includes onions, shallots, chives, and garlic. They look like large scallions with white stalks and flat green leaves, but with a more delicate and sweeter flavor than onions. Leeks are nutrient dense, meaning that they contain high levels of flavonoids, vitamins A, E, and K, and minerals such as potassium, calcium, and manganese. Leeks are also a rich source of antioxidants and sulfur compounds, such as kaempferol, which has been shown to promote heart health. Research also shows that alliums may reduce inflammation, blood pressure, and boost your immune system.
Onions are nutrient dense and part of the Allium family of plants, which also includes chives, garlic, and leeks. They are a good source of vitamin C, B6 and manganese. They also contain small amounts of calcium, iron, folate, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium and antioxidants, quercetin and sulfur. Research has shown that onions provide potential health benefits that may reduce the risk of several cancers. As a good source of vitamin C, it has also been linked to supporting skin and hair. Quercetin, found on onion skin, is linked to lowering blood pressure.
Broccoli are rich in fiber and help support healthy intestinal function and digestive health. Thanks to the presence of dietary fiber, they also help to maintain a sense of satiety. It is part of the cruciferous family and is considered a superfood. Broccoli is full of vitamins C, A, K, and folate, and minerals, potassium, phosphorus and selenium. It has high levels of a compound called glucoraphanin that is converted into a potent antioxidant called sulforaphane. Studies have shown that sulforaphane may have multiple health benefits such as, reducing blood sugar, cholesterol levels, oxidative stress, and the development of chronic disease. Broccoli also contains antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin, which have been shown to be eye protective.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil is known as “liquid gold” but my family and I call it “magical.” Olive trees go far back before biblical times, with their legendary reputation. Italians consider the olive tree as almost holy, evoking feelings of vitality and health. The first evidence of the use of oil dates back to 4000 BC when it was used as an ointment for the skin, for lamp lights, and taken as a medicine. Olive oil is rich in healthy monounsaturated fats and has large amounts of antioxidants. Research has shown olive oil to have strong anti-inflammatory properties. Studies show that monounsaturated fats also help improve cardiovascular health, cut cholesterol, and reduce blood pressure.
The leaves of leeks tend to harbor hidden sand, so rinse them carefully before cooking.
Serve hot soups in heated bowls.
Cream of broccoli goes well with a flavored fish.
You can garnish this soup with many different ingredients and even turn it into a first course by simply adding grilled shrimp or scallops, for example.
For extra creaminess, top off with a cashew cream.
Broccoli can be substituted with cauliflower. spinach, and asparagus, to name a few. Feel free to experiment!