This is one of those recipes that came from wanting to satisfy a craving with what was already at hand. I had purchased a head of broccoli because I wanted some in a veggie quesadilla. But there’s only so much broccoli you can put in a quesadilla.
I looked at the leftover broccoli and cheddar cheese (also purchased for the quesadilla) and I instantly thought “broccoli-cheddar soup.” Then I remembered that I had a piece of Gouda cheese that needed to be used and I thought, “Okay, broccoli-Gouda soup.”
Traditionally, broccoli-cheese soup uses milk or half-and-half, but I didn’t want to use any dairy (apart from the cheese). So I thought to use a technique I learned in culinary school for thickening cream soups: oats. It thickens it up without adding the extra fat and calories and keeps the soup light and filling without being overly rich.
I just threw all these ingredients together and I was immensely pleased with the result. This soup is hearty and filling, but less heavy than cream-based soups as well as healthier. The flavor is deep and pleasing, and it looks really appetizing. It would be well complemented by croutons or toast, and a side of green or bean salad.
By the way, if you want to go completely dairy-free, the soup was already delicious even before I stirred in the cheese. So go ahead and omit it—you’ll enjoy it just the same.
Creamless Broccoli-Gouda Soup
Makes 4 servings.
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup coarsely chopped white onion
4 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
1 medium head broccoli, chopped (florets and tender stems)
1 small carrot, coarsely chopped
1 teaspoon kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 cups vegetable broth
2 tablespoons quick-cooking oats
2 tablespoons flour
4 oz. Gouda, shredded
Heat 1 teaspoon oil in a medium pot. Add onion and saute over medium heat until soft and translucent. Add garlic and nutmeg and saute another minute.
Add broccoli, carrot, salt, and black pepper to taste and cook, stirring often, until broccoli turns bright green.
Add broth and oats; stir and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Lower heat, cover, and simmer until tender, about 10 minutes.
Make a roux by heating the remaining oil in a small skillet. Sprinkle in flour and whisk until it cakes up and becomes slightly stiff. Keep whisking until it turns a nutty brown. This will take only a minute or so.
Stir it into the soup until it’s well blended.
Puree the soup, either in a blender with an immersion blender, to the consistency that you like―fully blend for a smooth soup, or leave some pieces for a chunkier soup (I like it chunky). If you’ve used a blender, pour it back into the pot.
Stir in the cheese and continue stirring over low heat until it’s melted in. Check for seasoning and adjust, if desired.