After I saw this recipe in Annie's Eats, I knew I had to try it because broccoli cheddar soup is one of my favorites (second to Tomato Basil). My experience creating this soup reminds me of a similar experience I recently had while visiting my sister-in-law in Washington DC. We always enjoying cooking/baking together, and during this particular visit, we decided to make strawberry ice cream. While we were making it, she joked about how horrible she is in the kitchen and how she always feels like she is messing up recipes. So to make the ice cream, she started reading off the directions for the recipe while I threw everything together in the kitchen. Well, it wasn't until after I had mixed all the sugar with the strawberries to macerate them, that she read off the part about dividing the sugar into two parts. So, in an attempt to salvage the recipe, we tried to pull out as much of the sugar out of the strawberry/sugar mixture as possible (we weren't very successful). Lesson learned: even if you're in a rush, always read the full recipe before starting. So when I made this soup I followed the instructions exactly. I started out and mixed the broth and flour until smooth. I proceeded to combine the remaining ingredients, as instructed, until I got to the line that read: "Gradually stir in flour mixture." OOPS! It was at that moment that I realized I was supposed to set the broth/flour mixture aside after creating it, and I laughed at myself and instantly thought about this previous ice cream mishap :) Luckily, I don't think it made much of a difference. However, I have modified the recipe instructions below to reflect this, to help other cooks avoid the same mistake ;) And although we keep our fridge/pantry fairly well stocked, I did not realize we were out of milk until I got to that step of the recipe (we always have milk!)... so I substituted 1 cup of half and half for the milk. The only other thing I did differently was with regard to the cheese. For convenience, we buy pre-shredded cheese. I'm not sure how many cups of shredded cheese can be produced from an 8 oz block of cheese, so I just continued adding shredded cheese until the soup seemed cheesy enough for me :) I did not have any problems melting the cheese, either, despite the note at the bottom of the recipe. This soup would be wonderful in a bread bowl, or served with some sourdough on the side.
Baked Potato and Broccoli Soup
¼ cup all-purpose flour
29 oz (2 x 14.5 oz cans) low sodium, fat-free chicken broth, divided
3 cups peeled, cubed potatoes (about 1.25 lbs)
2 cups broccoli florets, chopped (I used frozen for convenience)
1 small onion, chopped
1 ¼ cups 2% reduced fat milk (I used 1 cup half and half since I was out of milk; another time I used skim and it was still good)
1 (8 oz) block 2% reduced fat sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (I used 2-1/2 cups shredded)
2% reduced fat sharp cheddar cheese, shredded, for topping (optional)
Chopped green onions for topping (optional)
Fully cooked bacon pieces for topping (optional)
Freshly ground pepper (to taste)
Salt (to taste)
*Note: Freshly shredded cheese is recommended (versus pre-shredded) for additional creaminess and even melting.
Whisk together flour and 1/3 cup chicken broth until smooth. Set aside for later use.
Combine remaining chicken broth, potatoes, broccoli and onion in a Dutch oven (or large saucepan). Bring to a boil; cover, reduce heat, and simmer 8 minutes or until potatoes are tender. Gradually stir in flour mixture. Cook, stirring often, 5 minutes.
Stir in milk & 8 oz. of freshly shredded cheese. Cook mixture over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until cheese melts. Add salt and pepper to taste (I found it to be too bland otherwise). Top each serving of soup with shredded cheese, green onions, and bacon pieces as desired.
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