I'm going to jump around a little and not do these recipes in the order we enjoyed them. My husband loves broccoli cheese soup- they have an awesome one at Pizzeria Uno's that we both love. So, I went on a search to find a good recipe to try. I stumbled on this recipe from Foodnetwork.com. I made a few slight changes, but this was a rich and yummy soup that passed the test in my house!
6 tbsp unsalted butter
1 small onion, chopped
1/4 cup flour
2 cups half and half
3 cups low sodium chicken broth (I would use 4 next time)
2 bay leaves
1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
salt and pepper to taste
4 cups broccoli florets (2 broccoli crowns or 1 head)
1 large carrot, diced
2 1/2 cups (8oz) grated sharp cheddar cheese
grated cheese for garnish
Melt the butter in a large stock pot over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in the flour and cook until lightly golden brown. Gradually whisk in the half and half. Add the chicken broth, bay leaves and nutmeg, then season with salt and pepper and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook, uncovered, until thickened, about 20 minutes.
Add the broccoli and carrots and simmer until tender, about 20 minutes. Discard the bay leaves. If you like a smooth soup, you can puree the soup in batches in a blender or using an immersion blender. I prefer the soup to have bigger pieces, so I use a potato masher to break up the bigger pieces.
Add the cheese to the soup and whisk over medium heat until melted. If the soup is too thick, you can add up to 3/4 cup water. Ladle soup into bowls and garnish with cheese. (I also thought some crumbled bacon would have been a wonderful garnish).
I attempted to make homemade bread bowls for this meal, but they were a flop. I was disappointed, but tried to remind myself that for every success, there are also failures. So, I will be attempting the bread bowls again very soon! Stay tuned!