Roasting vegetables (like broccoli and garlic) always brings out amazing flavors. This is a great way to turn warm, roasted vegetable flavors into a really flavorful broccoli and cheddar soup.
Use White Mirepoix for the Soup Base
The base for the soup is going to be a White Mirepoix. Traditional Mirepoix, as you probably know by heart, is onion, carrot and celery in a 2:1:1 ratio. For this broccoli and cheddar soup, we’re going to omit the carrots (mainly to leave their orange color behind) and replace them with leeks. So White Mirepoix is simple onion, leeks and celery in the same 2 parts onion, 1 part leek and 1 part celery ratio.
I didn’t happen to have leeks the day I made this soup. So that’s why they’re not in the picture, or the recipe below…feel free to add them in though. They really do bring a unique and gentle background flavor. On the flipside, they’re a bit of a pain to clean. I try to always buy organic leeks given that you have a but of soil residue stuck between the layers.
|Two thirds of the White Mirepoix|
Roasting a Whole Head of Garlic
To make it easy, there’s no need to chop, mince or Cuisinart your garlic. You’ll be roasting it whole. And you’ll use the whole bulb. Yes, the entire head of garlic. Simply take your Chefs Knife and (carefully) slice off the top, like you see below.
Whenever I’m going to be grilling, or have the oven on, for at least an hour or so, I always roast a head of garlic in the back. Just do the same thing….slice off the top. Then place it in a small sheet of heavy duty aluminum foil, drizzle with olive oil and wrap tightly. 45 minutes later you’ll have roasted garlic amazingness that you can mix with butter for a tasty spread.
|Slice off the top of the garlic bulb before roasting|
Roasting the Broccoli and the Garlic
From here, you’ll proceed with garden-variety soup making. Place all of your ingredients in a large vessel (dutch oven or stock pot) and simmer for at least 45 minutes to integrate all of the flavors. Finish in the pot with a stick blender, or transfer to an upright blender to process the soup.
If you have an über powerful blender, like a Vitamix, you can make a faux-creamy soup by blending with a bit of Olive Oil. Just carefully add the oil into the stream when your blender is running at full power.
|Broccoli, Garlic and Cheddar Soup garnished with roasted broccoli, aged cheddar and fried garlic|
Finishing with Fried Garlic and Reserved Broccoli
Be sure to hold back about a cup of the roasted broccoli to garnish the plate. I also finished with a couple of pieces of fried garlic. To do this, thinly slice a couple of cloves of garlic and gently fry in olive oil until they are dark and crispy. Like all small things fried or roasted, you’ll go from finished to overcooked super fast, so pay attention. Overcooked garlic is bitter and unsavory. Properly fried garlic is lightly sweet and intensely garlicky. It’s the perfect small topping for this soup.
Preheat your oven to 450 degrees with the sheetpan that will be used to roast the broccoli and garlic
Toss the broccoli with the olive oil and spread out on the sheetpan
Slice the top off of the garlic bulb and place it in the center of the pan. Drizzle a little oil on top.
Roast for 30 minutes, gently tossing about halfway through. Start peeking around 20-25 minutes to make sure it doesn't burn
Reserve about 1 cup of the broccoli for garnishing bowls
In a large stock pot or Dutch Oven, Sweat the onion, celery and leeks (white mirepoix) over medium-low heat in butter (or Olive Oil) until translucent
Squeeze the cloves from the garlic bulb and add them along with the broccoli and water to the pot
Bring to a boil, reduce and simmer for 45 minutes, or until the broccoli can be mashed easily with a wooden spoon against the side of the pot
Transfer by batch to a blender (or use a stick blender in the pot). Season as necessary.
Stir in the cheese, keeping back a small amount to garnish plates