It was one of the hottest days of one of the hottest heat waves. But after my in-laws had come to visit, I had a full boatload of cheese just sitting in my fridge for some reason, and I needed to use it up. Heat, be damned. But I have no idea how to make soup. So I consulted the Western Dubuque Marching Band Cookbook.
The first thing I noticed about the Western Dubuque Marching Band Cook Book is that there is no actual recipe for Cheddar Broccoli Soup. There is a Broccoli Soup recipe, and it features a ton of cheddar. But cheddar doesn’t make it into the title of the dish. I presume that this is because, in Iowa, cheddar in your broccoli soup is a given.
Broccoli Cheddar Soup Recipe:
1. Sweat it: I strayed from the recipe a little bit and started out sweating 1 medium diced onion. Then, I cut up about 2lb of broccoli and let that cook with the onions for a while. Also, I skipped the celery because I am an adult and can do so if I so choose.
I cut the broccoli small because that is how it always seems to come in broccoli soup. But I tried not to make it too small because then the florets fall apart and you have broccoli dust everywhere.
I use the stems (after trimming off some of the outer/woody parts) because that is my favorite part of the broccoli.
2. Broth it: I have never worked with a bouillon cube, so I used an entire box of chicken broth. Later, I learned on America’s Test Kitchen that the difference between chicken broth and chicken stock is that stock is made with bones, which is what gives it that wonderful texture. Broth, on the other hand, is not made with bones. (I ended up adding a tiny bit of cornstarch slurry at the end to bump up the thickness of the soup).
3. Roux it: While the veggies were cooking, I started a quadruple batch of roux for a béchamel, as the recipe requested. Then, I added the four cups of milk. Once it thickened I added it to the soup.
4. Cheese it: The recipe wants you to then added the béchamel to the soup before adding the cheese. That didn’t make sense to me, as I would think it would be better to make a cheese sauce first to then add to the soup. But I wasn’t about to argue.
5. Eat it: the cheese in the soup was kind of grainy. I really think that if I had made a cheese sauce first, it would have worked better. Also, if I hadn’t turned my back on the milk in the béchamel for too long, which led to a boil over, I think it would have helped too. But, some texture issues aside, the soup was really nice. Although, we had to turn up our AC on extra high. Eating soup on a hot day is not so great for your electric bill.
I served the soup with a nice side salad. The salad was a really important part of this meal because I hadn’t eaten like any vegetables in about a week. And I was backed up something fierce. So, in essence, the soup solved two problems. It helped me use up some of the excess cheese I had lying around. And 2, it helped with, well, number 2.