Saturday, September 26, 2015

Creamy Broccoli- Parmesan Soup - The Food Lab Recipes


This creamy soup relies on the thickening and emulsifying power of a roux—cooked flour and butter—to give it a creamy consistency without the need for heavy cream, which can dull flavors. For a long, long time, drab army-green vegetables got a bad rap, but I’m trying to bring sexy back to thoroughly cooked broccoli (and green beans). There are definitely great things to be said about snappy, bright green stalks, but the flavor that develops when broccoli is cooked to well-done is unmatched by that of its al dente counterpart. A touch bitter, a hint of sulfur (in a good way), and a rich, grassy depth all emerge as the stalks soften.

The only downside here is that waiting for broccoli to soften this much can be a tedious process that takes up to an hour or more. But there’s an old trick that the English use to make their traditional fish ’n’ chips side of mushy peas: add some baking soda to the water. Baking soda raises the pH of the liquid, causing the pectin that holds the cells of the broccoli together to soften. Just a tiny pinch is enough to cut simmering time down by two-thirds.

To add some depth to the soup, I toss in a handful of anchovies (you can skip them for a vegetarian version), as well as a good amount of grated Parmesan, whose nutty tang plays nicely off the deep flavor of the broccoli. A handful of quick buttery croutons adds both texture and flavor.


Serves 6


5 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 medium onion, finely diced (about 1 cup)
4 medium stalks celery, finely diced (about 1 cup)
2 medium cloves garlic, minced or grated on a Microplane (about 2 teaspoons)
4 anchovy fillets, finely chopped (optional)
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups milk
2 cups homemade or low-sodium canned chicken stock or vegetable stock, plus more if necessary
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
12 cups broccoli florets, stems, and stalks cut into 1-inch pieces (about 1 large head)
3 ounces Parmigiano-Reggiano, grated
2 tablespoons lemon juice (from 1 lemon)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 slices hearty white sandwich bread, crusts removed and cut into 1/2-inch dice


1) Melt 3 tablespoons of the butter in a large Dutch oven or soup pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion, celery, and garlic and cook, stirring, until the vegetables are softened but not browned, about 5 minutes (reduce the heat if the butter begins to brown). 

2) Stir in anchovies, if using, and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

3) Add the flour and cook, stirring constantly, until all the flour is absorbed, about 30 seconds. Stirring constantly, slowly pour in the milk, followed by the stock. 

4) Stir in the baking soda and broccoli florets and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to maintain a simmer, cover, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the florets are completely tender and olive green, about 20 minutes.

5) Working in batches, transfer the mixture to a blender, add the Parmesan, and blend, starting on low speed and gradually increasing to high, until completely smooth, about 1 minute; add additional stock or water if necessary to thin to the desired consistency (I like mine thick). 

6) Pass through a fine-mesh strainer into a clean pot. (Alternatively, use an immersion blender to puree the soup directly in the original pot.) Whisk in the lemon juice and season the soup to taste with salt and pepper. Keep warm.

7) Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. 

8) When the foaming subsides, add the bread cubes and cook, tossing frequently, until golden brown on all sides, about 6 minutes. 

9) Season to taste with salt and pepper.

10) Serve the soup garnished with the croutons.


We were after a soup with pure broccoli flavor that wasn’t hiding behind the cream or the cheese. Overcooked broccoli has a sulfurous flavor, but we discovered when we cooked our broccoli beyond the point of just overcooked—for a full hour—those sulfur-containing compounds broke down, leaving behind intense, nutty broccoli. It's texture was fairly soft, but that was perfect for use in a soup. Adding baking soda to the pot sped up the process, shortening the broccoli’s cooking time to a mere 20 minutes. A little spinach lent bright green color to the soup without taking over the flavor. After adding cheddar and Parmesan, we had a soup so full of flavor and richness that it didn’t even need the typical cream.

Related Post: How to Keep Cooked Broccoli Bright Green


Have you ever tried adding flour or cornstarch directly to a hot soup in an attempt to thicken it, only to find that the starch clumps up into frustratingly impossible-to-destroy little balls? Here’s the problem, and it has to do with the nature of the interaction between starch—a complex carbohydrate found in all sorts of plant matter, including flour—and water. Remember those little dinosaur-shaped sponges you’d get as a kid, which you’d drop into water, then wait for them to grow? That’s exactly what starch molecules are like. When dry, they are tiny and shriveled. They can flow freely past each other. But expose them to water, and they start growing, getting bigger and bigger, until they eventually rub up against each other and bind, creating a water-resistant barrier. Are you starting to get the picture?

When a spoonful of flour or cornstarch lands on the surface of a pot of water or milk, the first parts to get wet are the starches on the outside of the granules, which rapidly expand, forming a waterproof seal. As you stir and submerge the clumps, a seal ends up forming around the entire clump, keeping the interior from getting wet.

So, how do you solve this problem? Two ways.

With a starch that doesn’t need to be cooked before it is incorporated (such as cornstarch or potato starch), just dissolve the starch in a small amount of liquid to start. Starting with a smaller amount of liquid makes the mechanical stirring action of your spoon, fork, or whisk much more effective. Smaller amounts of liquid also get viscous more easily, making it simpler to bash up those pockets of dry starch. I use an equal volume of starch to liquid to start and stir it until homogeneous before adding the remaining liquid, or adding it to the rest of the liquid.

For starches that need to have their raw flavor cooked out of them, such as flour, start them in fat. Starch does not swell in fat, so by first combining flour with a fat like butter or oil and mixing it until homogeneous, you end up coating the individual starch granules, preventing them from swelling and sticking together when you first add the liquid. After you add it, the fat eventually melts away, so the starch is exposed and can be incorporated smoothly. This is the premise behind using a roux to thicken a soup or sauce.

Finally, remember that for starches to thicken properly, they must be brought to a complete boil to reach their optimal swelling size. You’ll notice a soup thicken dramatically as it goes from just plain hot to actually boiling.

Did you know? Consumption of Broccoli has Risen 940% in the Last 25 Years in the United States


Shopping for broccoli and cauliflower is pretty much the same and, luckily, finding good specimens is not too difficult. These hearty members of the brassica family have a good shelf life and are firm enough that they don’t bruise or break easily during storage and shipping. 

1) A head of broccoli should have tight florets that are an even dark green with greenish to purple buds. 

2) Cauliflower should be an even pale white; yellow or brown spots should be avoided, though if they are minor, you can simply trim them off. 

3) Look to the leaves as well, which should be tight around the base and appear bright pale green.

4) Once you get the broccoli or cauliflower home, keep it loosely wrapped in plastic or in a vegetable bag inside the crisper. It should stay good for at least a week. 

5) Once you’ve cut it into florets, it’s best to use it as quickly as possible to prevent excess moisture loss, though florets can be stored in an airtight container or zipper-lock plastic bag with a damp paper towel placed in it for up to 5 days.


Get my source for this healthful recipe, click the link below NOW and get a Discount or Free Shipping. This cookbook is the number 1 bestseller on It is highly recommended by top chefs and it is worth every penny.

J. Kenji López-Alt. September 21, 2015. The Food Lab: Better Home Cooking Through Science. W. W. Norton & Company. ISBN-13: 978-0393081084

This 938 pages information packed book will definitely improved your cooking through understanding the science behind it. In hundreds of easy-to-make recipes with over 1,000 full-color images, you will find out how to make foolproof Hollandaise sauce in just two minutes, how to transform one simple tomato sauce into a half dozen dishes, how to make the crispiest, creamiest potato casserole ever conceived, and much more. This is necessary have reference and cookbook for home cooking enthusiasts and experts alike.

CALORIE COUNTER: Creamy Broccoli- Parmesan Soup

Health Information
Nutrition Grade 
96% confidence

160 calories

Serving size: 1 bowl 9 oz.
Nutrition Facts 
Calories 160          (669 kJ)
Calories from fat 90

% Daily Value 1
Total Fat
Sat. Fat
Trans Fat

Total Carbs.
Dietary Fiber        




1) Broccoli Benefits: Super Food Broccoli (Brassica oleracea Italica)
2) High in calcium
3) High in phosphorus
4) High in vitamin A
5) Very high in vitamin C

Do you want to try another healthful and delicious broccoli recipe? Get this recipe, Broccoli Frittata Recipe- Healthy Recipes

Or you can try this Food Lab Recipe (Juicy and Tasty Sous-Vide Cheeseburgers- The Food Lab Recipes).

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