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Broccoli Soup with Cheddar Croutons
(recipe, Cheryl Sternman Rule)
A trio of Indian spices and a heap of cheesy croutons make this velvety, cream-free soup extra special. As with most soups, its flavor improves over time.
- 4 thick slices sturdy, bakery-style bread (pugliese, sourdough, country white, or the like)
- 1 tsp. plus 2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- 1½ cups grated Cheddar cheese, divided
- 1½ tsp. cumin seeds
- 1 tsp. ground coriander
- ½ tsp. fennel seeds
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 medium yellow onion, diced
- 2 lb. broccoli, stalks peeled and thinly sliced, florets finely chopped
- 2 cups vegetable stock
- ¾ cup water
- ½ cup packed chopped fresh Italian parsley
- 1 tsp. fresh lemon juice
- ½ cup Greek yogurt (nonfat is fine)
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment.
- Make the croutons: Dice the bread into ½-inch cubes. (You'll have about 4 cups). Toss on the prepared baking sheet with 1 teaspoon of the oil and 1 cup of the cheese. Spread in a single layer. (Most of the cheese will fall off the bread; carry on.) Bake for 20 minutes, until golden brown and bubbly, flipping the bread and lifting the melted cheese with a spatula twice during cooking. Set aside.
- Make the soup: Meanwhile, heat a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the remaining olive oil, the cumin seeds, coriander, fennel seeds, 1½ teaspoons salt, 1 teaspoon pepper, onion, and sliced broccoli stalks. Sauté until the vegetables are very tender, about 10 minutes, stirring frequently so the spices don't burn. Add the stock, water, and florets, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, for 15 minutes.
- Remove from the heat and stir in the parsley. Purée using an immersion blender (you'll have to tilt the pot and work slowly) or a traditional blender, in batches. Stir in the lemon juice, yogurt, the remaining cheese, and additional salt, to taste. (The soup may be made ahead to this point, cooled, and refrigerated, covered, overnight.) Serve hot, thinning with a touch of water or stock, if desired, garnished with the Cheddar croutons.