Broccoli-Cauliflower-White Cheddar Soup

There’s nothing so fulfilling and comforting on a cold winter’s day than a steaming bowl of thick, creamy, cheesy soup. While the wind is howling and anyone who’s got two brain cells to knock together has bundled back up in their blankets and put on their bunny slippers, a hot bowl of soup can make everything right with the world. Soon there will be Christmas lights to put up, presents to wrap…

…wait, it’s not winter? It’s August? Could’ve fooled me – it’s freezing out today. The chickens are huddling under the coop to get out of the wind, and the house is dark and dreary. It’s like we never got quite past that crepuscular dawn/twilight hour.

So what does one do when it’s supposed to be summer and it’s just…not?
One makes comfort food. Naturally.
On the menu today? A cream of cruciferous vegetable soup with lots and lots of sharp white cheddar cheese, fresh black pepper, and a healthy splash of white wine. Apparently my CSA is having a bit of a cold and wet year too, since they’ve been sending me heads of broccoli and cauliflower in the weekly box, right there along side of the corn and heirloom tomatoes that they are somehow coaxing out of the ground (we’ve had a few ears of sweet spring corn from our backyard, but so far only a tiny handful of cherry tomatoes have made it to ripeness).
The result is a thick and luxurious soup guaranteed to warm you up from the inside out. And if you are one of the lucky sort who are actually having a summer right now (with SUN and everything), well, it makes a great lunch served cold with some parmesan-garlic croutons or some diced tomato.
Broccoli Cauliflower Cheese Soup

serves 6-8 for a soup-course…or 4-5 for a meal

1 large head cauliflower, cut into manageable pieces
1 large head broccoli, same
1/2 medium yellow onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp butter
1/2 c white wine or sherry
1/2 c flour
1 1/2 c veggie stock
1 1/2 c milk (I use nonfat)
1/2 to 1 c sharp cheddar cheese (shredded, crumbled, or diced)
salt and pepper, to taste
note: if you like your soup very smooth and the veggies in it very soft, try steaming the broccoli and cauliflower a bit before adding them to the recipe. Personally, I like when they still have a little life left in them.

In a large pan over medium heat (I like a deep sauté pan, but any stock pot will do just as well), melt the butter and the oil and sweat the garlic and onions until translucent. Add the broccoli and cauliflower and cook until the broccoli is bright green and the pieces are barely starting to brown. Add the white wine and allow it to steam until the wine is nearly all cooked off.
Sprinkle on the flour and stir to coat all the pieces evenly with the sticky mess. Then add the stock and stir, melting the flour into the liquid (don’t worry too much about lumps – the whole thing is getting blended). Let this simmer until the mixture starts to thicken.

At this point, the broccoli and cauliflower need to be pureed. You can do this with an immersion blender, a stand blender, or a food processor (my Cuisinart makes fast work of steamed veggies and works just fine for me). If you like a more rustic soup, I suppose you could also mash the soup with a potato masher or run it through a food mill.

Add the soup back to the pan (unless you have used your immersion blender, you lucky gadget-haver, you), and stir in the milk. Allow everything to come up to a simmer and thicken a bit, and then stir in the cheese, giving it time to melt into the soup.
Season with salt and pepper, and serve hot.
With more cheese.
And bunny slippers, of course.
And some awesome person to help with the dishes.

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