Creamy Broccoli & Cheddar Soup [Recipe]
I quite enjoy being alone. I don’t think I’m a loner – I love good company. But I am also perfectly content to be on my own. I love to get lost in thoughts and dreams – places I might visit someday, famous people I’d like to meet, foods I’d like to try, books I might write. Silence doesn’t bother me. In fact, I quite like it. Silence is not empty to me, but rather it is peaceful.
I guess that’s one of the reasons I like living in the country. We live in a small country village, surrounded by people who know us (even if I’m just “the girl from Ireland”). Our neighbours are polite and friendly and I know I can depend on them in an emergency, but for the most part people keep to themselves. Of course, in my case I have a language barrier which limits my ability to chat with people when I’m out and about. I would love to get to know my neighbours better. But I do love that I can go for a walk in peace and tranquillity, save for an occasional passing tractor or barking dog.
While we try to live as self-sufficiently as possible here in Lithuania, there are always bills to be paid so we still need an income. We don’t have a well so we need to pay for water. We need electricity for power and heat and gas for cooking. Then there are insurance payments, car maintenance costs, etc. While we hope to someday produce all our own food, we will always have these additional expenses.
Wages here in Lithuania are incredibly low. A typical monthly income for someone working full time is €350 (US$390). No, that’s not a typo – that’s €350 per month. This explains why so many Lithuanians have emigrated and why so many more work outside of Lithuania for weeks or even months at a time. And it explains why I have been alone for the past two weeks while Arūnas was working overseas.
I have to admit I was quite looking forward to the time alone. I have lots of admin work to get through for my blog – stuff that takes ages but needs to get done. I have several writing projects on the go and I really need silence while I’m writing. I have lots of recipe ideas that need to be tested and then photographed. When Arūnas is here he immediately wants to eat anything that I cook. Telling him that he can’t eat it today because I need to take photos never goes down well. The two weeks would just fly by, I was sure. Like a two-week sun holiday, I knew I would relish the time alone for the first 10 days – and then I would really start to miss him.
Another upside of Arūnas being away is that I get to eat less meat. Arūnas would happily eat meat with every meal whereas I prefer to eat it at most once per day, both for sustainability and for health. I have nothing against eating meat, but there are plenty of other protein sources and I like lots of variety in my diet. Eating less meat also allows me to eat more of one of my favourite foods – cheese.
And so to the soup. This one is pretty easy, although it does require a little chopping. Please, I beg of you, don’t waste the broccoli stalk. They are full of flavour and perfect for using in soup. They can represent up to one third the overall weight of the head so discarding them is also a waste of money. Just trim off the end and any particularly tough bits from the sides, then chop it up small so it cooks quickly.
The cheese adds a delicious creamy texture and richness to this soup. It also makes it very filling. I tend not to eat bread with this soup as it is filling enough by itself, but by all means enjoy a slice of crusty bread on the side. Use a good, sharp cheddar – mature Irish if you can find it. The cheese is the main seasoning in the soup, so it’s essential that it has lots of flavour or the soup will be bland.
Creamy Broccoli & Cheddar Soup
1 medium head broccoli (about 530 g | 18 oz)
1 medium potato (about 185 g | 6.5 oz)
1 medium onion (about 150 g | 5.5 oz)
3 Tbsp rapeseed (canola) or sunflower oil
½ tsp salt
1 litre water, boiled
100 g | 3.5 oz mature cheddar, grated *
*Note: In Lithuania, you can now buy mature Irish cheddar in Rimi & Vynoteka.
- Rinse the head of broccoli well under running water.
- Cut the florets from the broccoli and set aside. Trim the end off the stalk and cut the stalk into 1 cm (½ inch) cubes.
- Peel the potato and cut into 1 cm (½ inch) cubes.
- Peel the onions and chop into 1 cm (½ inch) pieces.
Note: having the vegetables all cut to a similar size ensures they cook in the same amount of time.
- Heat the oil in a medium saucepan set over a high heat. Add the diced vegetables and stir to coat in the oil. Reduce the heat to very low, cover the saucepan with a lid and cook the vegetables very gently for 10 minutes.
- While the diced vegetables are cooking, cut the broccoli florets into bit-sized pieces, ensuring they are all roughly the same size.
- When the diced vegetables have been cooking for 10 minutes, add the salt, broccoli florets and water to the saucepan. Cover with a lid, bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer gently for 10 minutes.
- Remove the saucepan from the heat and blend with a stick blender, taking care not to splash hot soup.
- When the soup is smooth, add the grated cheese and stir well to melt the cheese into the soup. Blend again to ensure the cheese is fully incorporated.
- Serve with crusty bread and a generous grinding of black pepper.
- This soup will keep for 3-4 days in the fridge. Reheat in a covered saucepan over a very gentle heat so has not to burn the cheese. Stir frequently while reheating as the cheese can stick to the base of the saucepan.
The mugs featured in the photographs are by Paul Maloney, a potter from Wexford. This post is not sponsored in any way by Paul – I just thought that since I loved these mugs enough to bring them all the way from Ireland, I might as well give him a shout out!
More Soup Recipes
CREAMY ZUCCHINI / COURGETTE SOUP:
This super-easy recipe contains just 5 ingredients and is dairy free, but produces a rich and luxuriously creamy soup. Definitely worth trying.(View recipe)
QUICK & EASY TOMATO LENTIL SOUP:
This quick & easy soup requires no peeling or chopping whatsoever. It is warming and nourishing – perfect for cold winter days. (View recipe)
PUMPKIN & PEANUT BUTTER SOUP:
The addition of peanut butter (homemade, of course – see my recipe here) makes this a creamy, silky soup, perfect for cold evenings. Delicious with a slice of soda bread – see above. (View recipe)