Melissa Clark's Seared Broccoli and Potato Soup

October 20, 2015


Author Notes: "This is not your average broccoli soup," Melissa Clark writes. "Instead of merely boiling the broccoli to cook it, here, the florets are seared until deeply browned on one side while remaining bright green on the other. This gives the soup a layer of caramelized flavor while also preserving the fresh green taste of the broccoli itself. It’s a technique inspired by Andrew Feinberg of Franny’s restaurant in Brooklyn, who also uses it for zucchini soup." Adapted slightly from the New York Times (November, 2014).Genius Recipes

Serves: 4 to 6

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup olive oil, plus more as needed
  • 2 pounds (2 heads) broccoli, separated into small florets, stems peeled and diced
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, more to taste
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 large Spanish onion, diced
  • 5 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, more for finishing
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 pound potatoes, peeled, and thinly sliced
  • 1/4 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, more to taste
  • Grated or shaved Parmesan, to finish (optional)
  • Flaky sea salt, to finish
In This Recipe

Directions

  1. In a large soup pot, heat 2 tablespoons of oil over high heat. Add about a third of the broccoli, just enough so that it covers the bottom of the pan in a single layer without overcrowding. Cook broccoli without moving it for about 3 to 4 minutes, or until dark brown on 1 side only (leave the other side bright green). Transfer to a big bowl and repeat with remaining broccoli and more oil. When all the broccoli has been browned, season with 1 teaspoon salt and set aside.
  2. Reduce heat to medium-low. Add butter and remaining 2 tablespoons of oil to pan. Add onions and garlic, black and red peppers, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cook onion-garlic mixture until soft and translucent, about 4 minutes. Add potato to the pot with 1 quart water and remaining 1 teaspoon salt. Bring to a simmer, cover pot and cook until potato is just tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Add broccoli, cover again and cook until tender, another 5 to 10 minutes.
  3. Add lemon zest and roughly purée soup with an immersion or regular blender, leaving some small chunks for texture. Stir in lemon juice. Finish with grated Parmesan, a drizzle of olive oil, black pepper and flaky sea salt.

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Soup|Vegetable|Broccoli|Lemon Juice|Potato|One-Pot Wonders|Fall|Winter|Gluten-Free|Vegetarian

Reviews (24) Questions (0)

24 Reviews

Carol S. November 13, 2018
Really good soup! I used a bag of organic florets from Costco to save prep time. Love the smoky flavor imparted by searing. Used vegetable stock, added a bit of miso and cut back on the salt. Wanted to add nutritional yeast as well, but it had expired. I also used half white half sweet potato. I hope Melissa, that you are not disturbed by all the tampering that goes on with the recipe! It's such a great flavor base, and everyone has their favorite nuances to play with.
 
Drisana November 2, 2018
This soup was delicious. I was surprised at how easy it was to make. I cut my broccoli head into thirds and pan seared for efficacy and chopped the stalk into bits to sautée afterwards. The lemon added brightness to the flavor and rounded everything out.
 
Andrea M. October 18, 2017
So bright, fresh and tasty. Sure, wearing the broccoli is more effort than boiling in a pot, but totally worth it. I added in a few extra broccoli stems I needed to use. Can someone please explain to this Australian what red pepper flakes are? Are they chilli? With or without seeds?
 
Renee B. October 22, 2017
Crushed red pepper. Pizza places usually have a glass shaker of them on the table. Here's a photo https://www.bonappetit.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/05/ttar_crushedredpepperflakes_h.jpg
 
Nate January 15, 2018
They are crushed red chili peppers (including seeds). Here's the Wikipedia page: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crushed_red_pepper<br /><br />"Crushed red pepper shakers have become as standard as salt and pepper on tables at Italian style restaurants and especially pizza parlors in the United States."
 
Dianne J. October 11, 2017
I've made this soup several times from the NYT Cooking website. I use chicken broth and a few more potatoes than called for. I tried roasting the broccoli, which was a little easier, but it's really not as good as browning in the pot. Be sure to cut your florets in half so there's a flat side for good browning. That caramelization is really what makes the soup.
 
Hailey January 19, 2017
This soup is AMAZING. I made a few of my own adjustments-- used coconut oil instead of olive oil, vegetable stock instead of water, and used 1/2 regular potatoes, 1/2 sweet potatoes. <br /><br />The flavors from the seared broccoli are amazing. I also blended 3/4 of it in a Vitamix until it was super smooth-- and the texture is lovely with the extra small bits of broccoli and potato. YUM
 
NCdana November 21, 2016
This soup is notably better on the second day. It can be frozen too. Served with olive oil, lemon wedges and Parmesan.
 
Debra November 15, 2016
Could this be made the day before and reheated for lunch? I have 8 house guests for Thanksgiving that will need lunch and I'll be busy with Turkey Dinner prep.
 
Kristen M. November 15, 2016
Yes, absolutely, the flavor might be even better the second day! Just be sure to give it a taste after reheating to adjust the lemon and salt.
 
LeslieJ November 14, 2016
This is one of my favorite soups! To make it easier, try lightly roasting the broccoli (and maybe subbing half cauliflower) in a 425 over on parchment paper and just shaving the lemon zest off with a peeler (use a lot!). I use a med-sized Yukon Gold potato and 1 can of chicken stock and 2-4 cups water. Leave some texture when you puree. Yum - pablum for adults
 
S P. October 17, 2016
Forgot to mention I also used my own chicken stock, and eye balled the salt (someone mentioned too much salt).
 
S P. October 17, 2016
Turned out great! Thinner than I expected, but I had added a little more broth to stretch the soup. Didn't use the red pepper (kids) or parmesan, but it would be excellent with them as well. I disagree that it is too much work. The broccoli cooks up faster than implied--much faster than roasting would. I also did not have many dishes to wash up. One of the easier soups I've made.
 
Jessica T. September 28, 2016
Loved this soup. Pan frying the broccoli was a great idea that brought complexity to the soup. The addition of lemon really made the soup brighten up and the addition of Parmesan added more savory notes to the dish. Also paired it will jalapeno cheddar bread. So delicious. Will definitely make it again!
 
Nancy September 27, 2016
Umm...I mean... This is ok but I won't do it again. Just nothing spectacular about it. I used chicken broth and that was the only change I made. I thought it was unappetizing looking and not very interesting. The finishing touches definitely do help it out. Sorreee.
 
Penny G. March 3, 2016
Good flavor. The only change I made was to add a parmesan cheese rind to the soup while it simmered for an added depth of flavor.
 
Priscilla February 21, 2016
Hi Mel<br />To make it a lot easier put all the broccoli on a cookie sheet or two, mix in<br />some olive oil and roast in the oven til almost tender. Now that's much easier.
 
FourCats February 19, 2016
I'm curious about what kind of potato is best? something like a russet that will fall apart, or a red potato more inclined to hold its shape?
 
Mel December 28, 2015
I am in the minority in that I thought this soup was just okay. Browning the broccoli in small batches in the pot took forever, and there was a lot of oil spatter/mess. Seems easier and cleaner just to toss the broccoli with the oil, and either put it on a large baking sheet under the broiler or roast it in a hot oven. Lots of dishes dirtied to make this recipe, and a just okay result. YMMV.
 
Renee B. November 5, 2015
Delicious. The depth of flavor from charring the broccoli was fantastic. This has replaced a similar recipe with many more reviews and hearts. Thanks for sharing! BTW, 2 1/2 tsp seemed like way too much salt so I cut it to 1 1/2 tsp. It was still a little salty so I'll try 1 1/4 tsp next time. The saltiness may be because used Morton's regular, not Kosher salt.
 
libby L. November 4, 2015
So delicious soup! The combinations of flavor and the touch of the lemon is great.
 
suzi October 29, 2015
this soup is so rich and so filling, its hard to believe its mostly all vegetables!! no milk/cream, etc. Made a change after rewarming the next day and added a bit of daiya mozzarella (we are vegan) and it was even more delicious! now i am using it as a sauce and making a broccoli potato "cheese" casserole with some spelt penne for next go round!! thanks for this wonderful recipe that is so versatile, yet still awesome on its own!!
 
Emazingrace October 27, 2015
Made this for relatives that dropped by for lunch and they LOVED it! Charring the broccoli is key. Best of all...no cream. Making this again for ladies night dinner! Thank you, thank you!