Scratch-Made Is Better (and Just as Easy)
If ever moms had an ally in the fight to get kids – and maybe men – to eat vegetables, then surely it's cheese. A healthy dollop of melted cheese makes anything appealing, from side dishes to soup. This Crock-Pot broccoli cheese soup recipe skips the usual high-sodium "cheats" of canned soup and processed cheese, but it still goes together in just minutes. Its flavor is unmistakably homemade, and knowing it has no artificial ingredients is every bit as comforting as the soup itself.
Total Time: At least 3 hours, 10 minutes | Prep Time: 10 minutes | Serves: 4 to 6
- 4 tablespoons butter or oil
- 4 tablespoons flour
- 3 cups half-and-half
- 3 cups vegetable or chicken broth
- 1 medium yellow onion, finely diced
- 4 cups fresh or frozen broccoli florets
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic, or 1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic (optional)
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 cup finely shredded Parmesan
- 2 cups shredded sharp cheddar
- 1/4 cup buttermilk (optional)
- In a large microwaveable measuring cup, heat the butter until it melts. Whisk in the flour, and then 1/2 cup of the half-and-half. Whisk until the flour mixture is fully dispersed through the half-and-half, with no lumps. Then stir the cup's contents back into the rest of the half-and-half.
- Line the slow cooker with a liner bag for easier cleanup, or spray it with cooking spray. Pour the liquids into your Crock-Pot, then add the onion, broccoli and seasonings. Cook on high for 3 to 4 hours or on low for 6 to 8 hours, whichever suits your schedule best.
- Lift the lid from the Crock-Pot, and stir. Turn the slow cooker to its "keep warm" setting, and stir in the Parmesan cheese and all but 1/4 cup of the cheddar. Stir until the cheese melts completely into the soup, then taste it and adjust the seasoning with more salt and pepper if it's needed. Stir in the buttermilk, if you're using it, and serve immediately. Divide the remaining 1/4 cup of cheddar between the bowls, as a garnish.
TL;DR (Too Long; Didn't Read)
- If you opt for vegetable broth, use a clear variety rather than one with tomatoes or pureed vegetables in it. Clear vegetable broth is less likely to mask the flavor of the broccoli.
- If you're waste-averse, you can use the broccoli stems in your soup as well. Peel them carefully, then slice them thinly and add them to the Crock-Pot along with the florets.
- The quantities given here provide a good balance between broccoli and cheese. Feel free to use up to 50 percent more broccoli or more cheese, or more of both. The soup will still be good.
- For a heartier variation, scoop out up to half of the florets with a slotted spoon and set them aside. Puree the rest of the soup with a stick blender, and then add back the intact florets when you stir in the cheese.
- The 1/4 cup of buttermilk at the end brightens the soup's flavors with its acidity, and its pleasant tang somehow makes the cheese taste cheesier. It's a lower-calorie alternative to simply adding more cheese.
Fred Decker is a trained chef and certified food-safety trainer. Decker wrote for the Saint John, New Brunswick Telegraph-Journal, and has been published in Canada's Hospitality and Foodservice magazine. He's held positions selling computers, insurance and mutual funds, and was educated at Memorial University of Newfoundland and the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology.