Broccoli soup with parmesan and lemon

November 21, 2012 § 15 Comments

I’m going to make this one quick because, let’s face it, I don’t have much spare time today, and you don’t either.  Too much crimping of pie edges, dry brining of turkeys, simmering of cranberries, and such and so to be done.

Or, if we’re completely honest, spilling of half bowls of pie dough on the floor, forgetting to take out the turkey, and smoldering of forgotten pots of cranberries.  I am thankful for (among the many more standard things that I am deeply grateful for) brooms, basting with butter (a highly worthy alternative to brining), and smoke detectors.  Though perhaps not in that order.

I am also thankful for this soup because it is the solution to the ‘what shall we eat the night before Thanksgiving?’ dilemma.  (Or if you are in another country, it’s the solution to almost any other dilemma you can come up with.)

I love this recipe in part because the way Merrill – one of the cofounders of Food52 – came up with it is the same way I come up with ever so many dinners.  She saw the words “broccoli soup with Parmesan and lemon” written on a coffee shop signboard.  She thought to herself, “da@* that sounds good” (it’s the holidays, so I’m being careful with my naughty words, see?), and proceeded to try to make her own version.

I have done the same many a time.  Also, the exact same thought ran through my own head when I saw the words “broccoli soup with Parmesan and lemon,” so I knew I had to make it tout de suite.

It truly is an ideal soup to have up your sleeve for the holiday season.  It can feed a crowd, it is incredibly virtuous but tastes indulgent, and if you forget about it on the stove for 45 minutes because you had eight other things on your mind, that’s ok, the broccoli is meant to be cooked halfway to forever (into golden, sweet, slumping, submission) anyway.

If the anchovies make you nervous, don’t be.  Look me in the eyes, no, don’t look away, ok, repeat after me, anchovies are delicious.  Got it?  Seriously, they are.  I’m going to continue to try to convince any non-believers for as long as I keep cooking.  They add a saline layer of depth to the flavor that you wouldn’t get otherwise, and in the company of the lemon and Parmesan they make you feel rather as though you’re taking a little break from everything to have a leisurely meal in Liguria.  (If you have tried anchovies melted into something like a soup or stew before, and you actually have – against all odds, I might add – found that you truly don’t like them and it’s not just a mental block, that’s ok.  The soup will still be lovely without them.)

As with any blended soup, this one makes a few extra dishes in the form of the blender and bowls for transfer.  But, you’re kind of on a roll washing your way through piles of dishes anyway, now aren’t you?  I thought so.  So, here’s dinner.  You’re welcome.

Broccoli Soup with Parmesan Lemon (serves about 4-6) (adapted ever so slightly from Food52)

  • 2 pounds broccoli
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 3-4 fat cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
  • about 7 anchovies from a jar (get the kind packed in oil)
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 3/4 cups grated Parmesan plus more for serving
  • 1 lemon
  1. Trim the very ends of the broccoli off, then separate the tops from the stems.  Using a vegetable peeler, peel the stems and cut them into matchsticks.  Cut the tops into florets.  Put the broccoli in a large pot and add about an inch of water.  Bring the pot to a boil and cook, covered, for about 5 minutes, until the broccoli is bright green.  Drain the broccoli in a colander and set aside.
  2. Return the pot to the heat, add the olive oil, the garlic, and the anchovies to the pot over medium heat.  Smash the anchovies around with the garlic and let them sizzle for 2-3 minutes. Next add the broccoli plus a pinch of salt and pepper, and stir well.
  3. Cover the pot, turn the heat down as low as it will go, and cook for up to an hour (you can stop it around 35-40 minutes, if you’re running short on time, but only do so if you must), stirring occasionally, until the broccoli is soft enough that it smushes easily if you press it with the back of a wooden spoon.
  4. Add the stock and bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat. Simmer the soup, covered, for about 5 minutes.
  5. Carefully puree the soup in batches in a blender, using a kitchen towel or big silicone baking mitt to hold the lid on. Stir the soup back into the pot and add the Parmesan. Squeeze in half the lemon. Taste and add the rest of the lemon juice, if you’d like, plus additional salt and pepper to taste. Serve hot with more Parmesan for sprinkling on top, and some warm crusty bread, if you wish.  I have yet to try it, but I bet this would also be delicious with bits of bacon or cooked pork belly scattered on top.  (Then again, what isn’t?)
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