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Overcooked broccoli smells like farts. Let’s be real. I love broccoli, but fart smell can be one of the hazards of working with cruciferous vegetables. Obviously, I want to avoid this problem with my broccoli cheddar soup recipe, and the answer turns out to be frozen broccoli.
Testing this soup gave me a run for my money. At first I wanted this to be an Instant Pot recipe, but it was never quite right. The virtues of a pressure cooker work against broccoli and cheese, namely extreme heat and pressure. The broccoli overcooked and got brownish and stinky, and the cheese seized. In my quest for the perfect broccoli cheddar soup, I went back to my old friend, the enameled cast iron pot.
If you’re looking for an affordable cast iron Dutch oven, Amazon Basics has one for a fraction of the price than the fancier-sounding brands. Plus, it comes in lots of colors! Enameled cast iron is one of my very favorite cookware materials because it heats reliably and gently, sears great, and is easy to clean. As a bonus, enameled cast iron can also go in the oven.
Why Frozen Broccoli?
Frozen vegetables can be pretty great. In the case of frozen broccoli, it is quickly par-cooked and then flash frozen. This preserves its bright green color and makes it ready to be thawed and added to this soup. We’re not so much cooking the broccoli as heating it up, preventing overcooking and unappealing odors. You could get the same results by blanching (quickly boiling for a few seconds and then plunging into ice water to stop the cooking) fresh broccoli, but frozen broccoli has been through the same process, and you don’t have to do it! All you need to do is thaw, chop, and throw the broccoli in the soup.
Techniques For Broccoli Cheddar Soup
Making a roux: A roux is equal parts butter and flour. Technically they should be equal by weight, but for this application, by volume is fine. A roux is used as a thickener. The butter and flour are cooked together to avoid a raw flour taste. Then stock is added and brought to a boil, then a simmer. The roux will reach the peak of its thickening power after a few minutes of simmering.
If you’ve been on my social media lately, you may have noticed that very soon the name of this site will be changing! When I started The At-Home Test Cook, I thought the blog would be very science-y and testing forward. While I do a lot of testing for my recipes, the way that my little heart has taken this site has veered toward comfort food and recipes geared toward feeding family and friends. The new name will reflect this, and I can’t wait! Thank you for all your support, and I’ll see you back here next week for week 3 of Soup Month!
Broccoli Cheddar Soup
- 1 6 or 7 quart pot preferably enameled cast iron, but anything with a heavy bottom is good.
- 1 Rubber spatula
- cutting board and knife
- 1 medium yellow onion diced
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 3 carrots, peeled and grated about 1 cup
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 6 cups vegetable stock chicken stock or water work, too.
- 6 cups frozen broccoli florets, thawed and chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice squeeze of a fresh lemon
- 4 cups grated medium cheddar cheese
- 1 cup heavy cream
- salt and pepper to taste yes, I'm going to make you taste as you go. 🙂
- Preheat a large (6 or 7 quart) enameled Dutch oven or other heavy bottomed pot over medium heat.
- Thaw your broccoli by placing it in a large bowl and microwaving until thawed, but not cooked all the way through. I did 3 one minute increments, stirring in between. Then dump your thawed broccoli onto either a kitchen towel or a few layers of paper towels, and gently wring the water out over the sink. Chop into small pieces. Now your frozen broccoli is ready to go.
- Cut 2 Tablespoons off of your 1/2 cup stick of butter and add it to the pot. When the butter bubbles, add the onions. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until onions are translucent.
- Add the grated carrots, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Cook until the carrots are soft, about 3 minutes or so.
- Add the rest of the stick of butter to the pot. Let it melt, and then add 1/2 cup of flour. Stir until a paste forms. This will be the thickener for the soup (the roux). Don't worry about the onions and carrots being in there. They'll be fine.
- Cook the roux, stirring constantly, for about 2 minutes to cook the flour.
- Add a little bit of the vegetable stock, stir vigorously to break up any lumps in the roux. Add more stock, stir again. Then add the rest of the stock and stir.
- Bring the soup to a boil and then turn down the heat and let it simmer for about 5 minutes, or until it thickens slightly. Add about 3/4 to 1 teaspoon salt at this point, and add your squeeze of lemon juice. Check for seasoning. It should taste bright and savory, not dull. Add more salt until the seasoning is where you like it.
- Add the thawed, chopped broccoli and stir.
- Add the cheese a in 2 or 3 additions, stirring in between until all the cheese is melted. You don't want the soup at a rolling boil for this, or you run the risk of your cheese seizing. A simmer is just fine.
- Add the heavy cream and stir.
- Adjust the seasoning. Dairy dulls seasoning, so you will need to add more salt and pepper until you have a bright tasting, savory soup.
- Bring the soup back to a simmer, serve, and enjoy!