Updated: Dec 10, 2019

Broccoli. One of those vegetables we know is good for us and so why don’t we eat more of it? There are many ways to prepare broccoli. By my reckoning, you can blanch, steam, roast, sauté, boil, grill or eat it raw. Any missing out, please shout. But for today's post, broccoli is being blitzed into an easy to make soup. Because broccoli soup is really good and if we want to eat more of certain foods, it's time to under-complicate recipes.

First, let's talk about the green factor! I drink a green juice most days and I'm pretty sure my taste buds have adjusted and I can tolerate "green" better than most. Sometimes I'll make something and think it's grand only for someone else to taste it and grimace. I've learned from experience to test any of my "greener" recipes on third parties before posting them. I've been making broccoli soup for years and usually don't put too much thought into it but after broccoli came joint top of my InstaStory poll asking what vegetables people wanted more recipes for, I thought I'd start with a good broccoli soup recipe.

I'm back on treatment for a reoccurence of cancer at the moment and it has me exhausted so my mother has very kindly been meeting all my demands on the food front and cooking to order. Last week I put a little more thought into what I wanted to go into my soup and she whipped up a batch and we all loved it. It being not too "green" tasting being the principal concern. The only tweak I wanted to make was to include more protein. So today, in a combined effort that involved me sitting at the kitchen table doing the chopping and being bossy and her at the cooker, we made the updated and better version of this broccoli soup. Thank you to my Mam for the help. I am beginning to now feel like the top chefs who have recipe testers and washer-uppers on hand.

Feel free to skip straight to the recipe or stick with me while I justify why I think broccoli soup is a good idea. First up, it's a really handy way to get a green fix and tastes good too. I've added kale to this for some extra green. It's easy to make and anything that's easy to make, I think we'll make more often and that can only be good when it comes to upping our veg intake. It can be made in big batches and freezes really well. It's relatively inexpensive to make. It's plant based, provided you don't top it with the parmesan that is. And speaking of toppings, there are loads of options. I've used toasted almonds here, a drizzle of olive oil and a little parmesan. You can also try chilli oil, pesto, crumbled feta cheese, blue cheese, hazelnuts. It's easy to add protein to make this more satisfying. I've gone for cannellini beans for this soup.

Season wise, green broccoli is in season in Ireland pretty much from April to December with purple sprouting broccoli in season from January to April. This recipe calls for green broccoli. Sorry, hands up I know not in season at the moment in Ireland, but I do try eat it all year round. I've also added some kale to it, which thankfully is in season most of the time, save for May, June and July. If you want to choose organic, it's readily available at farmers' markets, wholefood stores and in most supermarkets. When buying broccoli, avoid heads that have started to brown or yellow in colour.

Food waste wise, use the broccoli stalks. They are edible and taste good. Give them a very light shave to remove any knobbly parts and discard the hard skin at the end of the stalk. Chop the rest of the stalk into thin slices and cook it in the same way that you would cook the florets.

And with that ode to all things broccoli, keep scrolling for the recipe for this Broccoli & Kale Soup with Cannellini Beans and please do let me know if you make it... all feedback welcome x

Broccoli & Kale Soup with Cannelini Beans

(serves 6)

Ingredients Olive Oil 2 white onions, chopped 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped 1 tbsp cumin seeds 2 heads of broccoli (approx 900g) 1.5 litre vegetable stock 100g kale 1 400g tin cannellini beans

Juice of half a lemon Sea salt Freshly ground black pepper Flaked almonds, toasted

(optional: grated parmesan)

Method Heat a generous drizzle of olive oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat. When hot add the onion and sauté for 10 minutes until softened. Then add the garlic and cook for a further minute, before adding the cumin seeds and cooking for another minute. Take care not to burn the garlic. While the onion is cooking, chop the heads of broccoli into small florets. Remove any rough skin from the stalks of the broccoli and roughly slice. Once the onion, garlic and cumin have been cooked as per step one, add the broccoli florets and stalk slices to the saucepan along with the vegetable stock and simmer for 30 minutes.

Tear the leaves of the kale from the rough stalks, roughly chop the leaves and add them to the saucepan. Discard the stalks. Drain and rinse the cannellini beans and add them to the saucepan. Cook for another five minutes. Remove the soup from the heat. Using either a high speed blender or a hand held blender, blitz the soup until smooth. If using a high speed blender, you may have to do this in batches. Return to the saucepan and taste. Add black pepper and sea salt to season as required. Add the juice of half a lemon.

To serve the soup, ladle into bowls and top with toasted almond flakes and a drizzle of olive oil. To toast the almond flakes, place on a bakng sheet in a medium oven for five minutes. For an optional topping, add some grated Parmesan cheese or crumbled feta to your bowls just before serving.

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