Somehow I've seem to have crossed the line between following a recipe and making up my own recipe and doing a pretty damn good job at it too! That sounds terribly conceited, I know, but please forgive me because in a paragraph or so I'm going to give you a recipe for Broccoli & Cheese Soup that will make my rapidly expanding head seem a good thing. Click below for more obnoxiousness and the recipe!
I've spent time watching people cook whenever I could sometimes in person when I was lucky but more often than not on television. And I read. A LOT. Much more than I display in my Typepad sidebar. I read a lot of food related media--magazine articles, blog articles and cookbooks. Yup, cookbooks. I regularly check out several cookbooks a week from my library to leaf through but mainly to read the extra tidbits. You know--the introductory chapter(s), the paragraph below the title of the recipe and all the little boxes and columns full of tips, tricks, blurbs and comments.
I also cook and bake. A LOT. In case you haven't figured that out. ;) The more elements of a recipe I can make from scratch the better. I don't like shortcuts at all and will often cast aside convenience items in favor of taking the longer route. To give you and example of what I mean: The other night we had raviolis and bread. I made the sauce. I made the pasta and the filling and filled 60 raviolis. I baked the bread. Not too bad. In a perfect world, I would have grown the tomatoes, garlic and onions (the basil I did grow myself). I would have made the cheese myself from animals I owned and milked myself. The eggs would have come from chickens I owned and the bread would have come from wheat I grew. If only I had a a few dozen acres instead of a measly city lot yard!!
I don't know when but sometime in the last few months I've gone from following a recipe to following a recipe and making some alterations to it and being able to make up a recipe. Somehow my mind and tongue have come together to be able to 'see' how to combine ingredients to get the taste I want. Flavor combinations that before didn't make much sense to me suddenly do. I'm very thankful for this newly developing ability and hope it continues!
This recipe for Broccoli & Cheese soup was not altered from any recipe. It is completely my own from the first drizzle of EVOO to the last bit of cheese. I didn't reference any recipe while making this one. Instead, I had a taste in my mind that I wanted and I added ingredients slowly, noting what I was doing all the while and adjusting as needed.
If you aren't entirely disgusted with my arrogance by now...here's the recipe!
Broccoli & Cheese Soup
Drizzle of extra virgin olive oil
1 cup finely chopped onion
1/2 cup finely chopped celery
1/2 cup finely chopped carrot
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon thyme
3 tablespoons flour
3 cups chicken broth
3 cups chopped broccoli florets
1/2 cup half and half
12 ounces American cheese
shredded Cheddar for garnish
1. Drizzle EVOO in a saucepot to cover the bottom in thin layer and heat until hot. Make a soffrito with the onion, celery and carrot. My grandmother calls this the Holy Trinity. =) Basically, what it means is to cook the onion, celery and carrot until fragrant and tender. Add the garlic and continue to cook for another minute or two.
2. Add the salt, pepper, thyme and flour and stir. Allow it to cook for a minute and then pour in the chicken broth. Cook and stir continuously until hot and bubbly.
3. Add the broccoli, keeping the mixture at a simmer and cook until tender about 10 minutes. CAREFULLY, using an immersion blender or a food processor (I used a food processor and it works fine; you just have to be extra careful not to splatter). and puree the mixture. Return to pot and turn down the heat.
4. Stir in the half and half. Keep the mixture just below a simmer and slowly add in the cheese, stirring to incorporate it as it melts. Serve.
5. If desired, garnish with shredded Cheddar.