Recipe: Broccoli and Blue Cheese Soup

Winter has officially started, and even in Noosa it gets chilly at this time of the year. As much as I love the fresh clean tastes of summer food, right now I am craving more complex dishes like Beef Bourguignon, Braised Lamb Shanks and Osso Buco.  During the colder months I also love a bowl of homemade steaming soup for lunch, like this Broccoli and Blue Cheese Soup.

This soup ticks all the boxes: it is rich and warming, it makes us of local and seasonal ingredients, and it tastes divine. It is equally good served as a first course at a dinner party as it is for a casual lunch with a chunk of crusty bread. For a less intense blue-cheese flavour, use a milder blue cheese such as gorgonzola, or if you’re not a big fan of blue cheese substitute it with gruyere or a mature cheddar cheese. Enjoy.

Ingredients (serves 4):
30g butter
1 large onion, chopped
2 sticks celery, chopped
500g broccoli, florets removed and stems chopped (discard any tough stems)
1 medium potato, chopped
3 cups (750ml) chicken stock, heated (use vegetable stock for a vegetarian option)
1 cup milk
1/3 cup thickened cream
125g strong blue cheese (such as stilton), crumbled
Garnish: chopped chives and freshly ground black pepper

Method:
1.    Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and celery and cook until soft but not coloured, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes.
2.    Add the broccoli and potato and cook for a further minute. Pour in the heated stock and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover the saucepan and simmer for 15-20 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender.
3.    Allow to cool slightly, then pour the contents into a food processor or blender and process until smooth.
4.    Press through a sieve into the rinsed saucepan, mix in the milk and cream and warm over a medium heat. Add the blue cheese, stirring until it melts.  Season with sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.
5.    Ladle the soup into bowls and garnish with the chopped chives and some ground black pepper.

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