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Creamy broccoli-cheese soup has a secret: No cream, no flour

Recipe: Hearty winter warmer also is gluten-free

This hearty bowl of broccoli-cheese soup is creamy thanks to potato, not cream or flour.

This hearty bowl of broccoli-cheese soup is creamy thanks to potato, not cream or flour. Debbie Arrington

Cream soups (particularly cheese soups) can seem like thinned sauce or gravy. That’s because they basically are just that. The ingredients used for thickening are the same: Cream, butter and flour.

Skip the roux and grab a potato. This recipe for broccoli-cheddar cheese soup uses one medium potato to give silkiness to the soup base and thicken it without adding flour. Another switch: 1% milk for cream.

Instead of putting all the broccoli in the pot at once, save out the tender florets and add them later. With less cooking, they hold their form.

The sharper the cheddar, the cheesier the soup (I used half medium, half sharp). The addition of Parmesan cheese accentuates the cheddar. Be careful not to boil the soup after the addition of cheese; it will separate and get grainy. Instead, gently reheat, if necessary.

Creamy broccoli-cheddar cheese soup

Makes 4 servings


¼ cup butter or margarine (½ stick)

½ cup onion, chopped

3 cups vegetable broth

1 carrot, peeled and julienned (about ¾ cup)

1 medium potato, peeled and cubed (about 1 cup)

¼ teaspoon thyme

1 large broccoli crown (10 ounces; makes about 4 cups, chopped)

Salt and pepper to taste

1 cup milk, preferably 1%

2 cups grated cheddar cheese

¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese


In a large heavy pot or saucepan over medium heat, melt butter. Sauté onions until very soft, about 10 minutes.

Soup cooking in pot
Florets go in last. The potato
is already breaking up in the broth.

Add broth and bring to a boil. Add carrot, potato and thyme. Bring to boil, then reduce heat. Simmer for 10 minutes.

Chop broccoli crown, separating the stems from the florets. Add stems to broth, adjusting heat as necessary. Simmer for 10 more minutes, then add florets.

Continue simmering broth and vegetables until the broccoli stems are tender and the potato is dissolving into the broth (about 10 more minutes).

Adjust seasoning, adding salt and pepper if necessary.

Stir in milk. Bring back to simmer but don’t boil.

Remove soup from stove and stir in cheeses. Stir until the cheeses are melted and blended into the soup.

Return to heat briefly, if necessary, so soup is evenly warmed through, being careful not to boil.

Serve immediately.


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Dig In: Garden Checklist

For week of Feb. 18:

It's wet to start the week. When you do get outside, between or after storms, concentrate on damage control:

* Keep storm drains and gutters clear of debris.

* Clean up tree debris knocked down by wind and rain.

* Where did the water flow in your garden? Make notes where revisions are necessary.

* Are any trees leaning? See disturbances in the ground or lawn around their base? Time to call an arborist before the tree topples.

* Dump excess water out of pots.

* Indoors, start peppers, tomatoes and eggplant from seed.

* Lettuce and other greens also can be started indoors from seed.

* Got bare-root plants? Put their roots in a bucket of water until outdoor soil dries out. Or pot them up in 1- or 5-gallon containers. In April, transplant the plant, rootball and all, into the garden.

* Browse garden websites and catalogs. It’s not too late to order for spring and summer.

* Show your indoor plants some love. Dust leaves and mist to refresh.

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