Saturday, February 4, 2012

Soup Experiment

I spent a lazy, rainy Saturday morning on the couch today. Whenever I get to spend a self-indulgent day like that, I usually watch Food Network. It makes me feel somewhat productive because I feel like I am at least learning something while sitting on my rear. :)

This morning I caught one episode of the Pioneer Woman's show. It's all about her ranch life, cooking and home-schooling, the only aspect to which I can relate is cooking, but it was a fun watch. In this episode, she made a broccoli cheddar soup and served it to her "hungry scientists" in a bread bowl. I won't lie, I LOVE bread and all things related to it. I also LOVE soups made with whole milk, cream, butter and cheese, the way she made this one. Being in my last weeks of pregnancy, and on a carb restriction (and just feeling plain guilty about the amount of weight I have gained!), I decided to make my own, lighter version of this soup and serve it in a *regular* bowl.

My ingredient list came from what I had lying around in the fridge and pantry:

1 tbsp unsalted butter (use oil if you want to go dairy-free on this)
1 small onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, peeled
1 small red bell pepper, seeded and diced
scant 1 tbsp all purpose flour*
4 cups plain almond milk (less carbs, more calcium, more protein than regular milk)
salt and pepper to taste
fresh ground nutmeg, approximately 1/2 tsp
3 broccoli heads, florets cut and rinsed
2 whole carrots, peeled and diced

I began with melting my butter in a medium soup pot. I sauteed the onions, garlic and bell peppers in the butter until softened. Sprinkle in the flour and allow to cook for a minute or two. Pour in the almond milk and season with salt, pepper and nutmeg. Bring mixture to a boil before adding broccoli and carrots. You should have a pot full of vegetables and just enough liquid to barely cover them.

Simmer, covered, for approximately 20 minutes over medium-low heat until vegetables are tender.

When your veggies are tender, remove your soup pot from the heat and use an immersion blender (or if you're a member of my family, use your boat motor) to blend together your mixture right there in the pot. What I love about making pureed soups is that you can leave some chunks if you want or blend it until it's completely smooth. I blended mine until it was completely smooth.

Your soup is now ready to serve! I topped mine with a handful of shredded mozzarella for some extra protein and flavor.

*I tried out the flour to see if it would thicken the soup up a bit. While it was cooking, I wasn't sure that it did any good, but once I blended it all together, the soup was plenty thick. I'm not sure if that was because of the flour or because of the amount of vegetables that are in it. If any of you try this without flour, let me know how it goes! I imagine you could leave this out to eliminate gluten and it would be just as good.

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