Fall is upon us and though it’s still warm here in sunny, Southern California, I’m definitely starting to think of all the soups I’ll soon be making. This one is a nice, surprisingly light soup that is wonderful served any time of the year. I call it a cream soup, but it’s really not. There’s actually no cream in it at all. I use coconut milk. But more about that later. =)
This is a great mug-sipping soup or an elegant first course to a larger meal – for yourself, your family or even company. I made a pot of it yesterday and had to sneak a bowl of it to photograph before it completely disappeared. =) Even those who don’t care much for broccoli enjoy this mild-tasting soup. It doesn’t take long to prepare and it has so few ingredients I already had everything on hand. This is another of those soups that is just as good (if not better) a day or two later, when it will thicken even more!
Speaking of ingredients, have you taken a look at some of the labels on store-bought soups – like Campbell’s Cream of Broccoli, for example? Besides containing a couple of flavor enhancing ingredients I can barely pronounce it contains wheat (a BIG no-no for those of us with Celiac or gluten intolerance!) and modified food starch, which may also be a possible source of wheat and/or contaminated by wheat. If I don’t know for sure, I avoid it.
Campbell’s Ingredient List
SKIM MILK, BROCCOLI, CREAM (MILK), VEGETABLE OIL (CORN, COTTONSEED, AND/OR CANOLA), MODIFIED FOOD STARCH, CONTAINS LESS THAN 2% OF: BLEACHED ENRICHED FLOUR (WHEAT FLOUR, WHEAT STARCH, NIACIN, FERROUS SULFATE, THIAMINE MONONITRATE, RIBOFLAVIN, FOLIC ACID), SALT, DEHYDRATED ONIONS, SOY PROTEIN CONCENTRATE, DISODIUM GUANYLATE, DISODIUM INOSINATE, SPICE.
Now let’s take a look at what’s in my “cream-less” broccoli soup:
Janice Amee’s Ingredient List:
COCONUT MILK, BROCCOLI, OLIVE OIL, ARROWROOT, ORGANIC VEGETABLE BROTH, ONIONS, GARLIC, SALT & PEPPER
(In case you’re unfamiliar with arrowroot, it is the starch extracted from the root of several tropical plants.)
Okay…it’s later. Now I’ll tell you why I like to use coconut milk. I keep a number of cans in my pantry. Aside from its health benefits and the fact it makes this a vegan-friendly soup, adding canned coconut milk instead of real cream gives you a lower calorie soup. The two cups of coconut milk I use in this recipe is only 700 calories as compared to the 1600+ calories that come from cream. Yet it loses none of the rich, creamy texture that makes this soup so good. So at only 110 calories a cup, you can enjoy this without worrying that you’ve just blown that hour you spent at the gym!
I also keep cartons of both chicken and vegetable broth in my pantry. I do sometimes make my own broth, but it’s handy to have these when I want to put together a soup in a hurry. And after all, one of the things I’m hoping to show here is that eating gluten-free doesn’t have to be hard.
This is an example of one of the brands I like to use: http://www.glutenfreechoices.com/products/imagine/if-broths/organic-vegetable-broth/ As you can see, it contains only filtered water, organic vegetables, garlic, sea salt and a little vegetable oil. There are no preservatives or additives – and most importantly, it’s certified gluten-free!
- olive oil (or one of your choice) - 1 Tablespoon
- onions (chopped) - 2 cups
- garlic (minced or chopped to better bring out the flavor) - 2 Tablespoons
- broccoli (not including the stem) - 1 3/4 - 2 lbs.
- organic, gluten-free vegetable broth (may use chicken broth, if you prefer) - 8 cups (2 quarts)
- unsweetened coconut milk - 1 can (approximately 2 cups)*
- ground pepper - 1/2 teaspoon
- sea salt (more to taste) - 1 teaspoon
- arrowroot, potato starch, tapioca flour or gluten-free cornstarch - 1/4 cup
Saute onions and garlic in 1 Tablespoon cooking oil (in a soup pot) until they're beginning to change color (about a minute or two). Add the broccoli and organic broth (except for about 1 cup - which will be used to thicken the soup later). Pour that cup of broth into a jar with a lid and save. Allow the remaining broccoli/broth combination to simmer until the broccoli is tender. Then, using an immersion mixer, right in the pot (or a blender or bullet - though do be careful as the soup is VERY hot - so you might want to let it cool a bit first), I blend until smooth. To thicken the soup, add the starch (your choice) one tablespoon at a time into the jar with the cup of broth you saved earlier. Put the lid back on the jar each time and shake until smooth. If the lumps don't disappear, use a fork to mash them. Continue adding the starch this way until you have a creamy mixture. Then, and only then, add it back to the broccoli soup and stir (over a low to medium heat) and it will thicken. Add the canned coconut milk, stirring as it heats all the way through. Salt and pepper to taste and you're good to go!
Serves 8 (10 if you're being good about measuring only a cup) ;)
Additional alternatives: If you want a much thicker version, add a couple of peeled, cubed potatoes to the broth with the broccoli. If you do so, you may find you don't need the other starch at all. But keep in mind, it will increase the overall calorie count slightly.
*If you would like to use cream or half and half, you may do so and it will not negatively impact the soup - except in respect to the calories. =)