How to make the broccoli-iest, cheesiest broccoli cheese soup? Skip the overcrowded ingredient list and use broccoli and the cheese multiple ways. That means no fluff like carrot, celery, potato, garlic, flour, cornstarch, vegetable or chicken stock, milk or cream or half-and-half, hot sauce, paprika, mustard, cayenne, or nutmeg. Just lots of broccoli, funky cheddar, and yellow onion. Here’s the game plan: You’ll purée blanched broccoli (including those starchy stalks!), while roasting even more broccoli in the oven for a crispy topping. Likewise, grated cheddar does double duty: yielding a creamy-silky soup and turning those broccoli florets into crackly-edged wonders. (For what it’s worth, that cheesy roasted broccoli is a recipe in itself—one that you could make on its own, pair with some warm bread and vinegary salad, and call it dinner.) Our third and final ingredient, sautéed onions, round out the flavor and add body. Because they end up whooshed in the blender, they serve the same savory role as vegetable stock: supporting, elevating, celebrating the broccoli and cheese. —Emma Laperruque
- Prep time 20 minutes
- Cook time 45 minutes
- Serves 4
1 1/4 pounds
yellow onions (about 2 medium plus 1 large), diced
Neutral oil (such as canola or grapeseed)
broccoli (about 2 large or 4 medium heads)
sharp cheddar, grated
- Heat the oven to 450°F.
- Pour a glug of oil into a stockpot set over medium heat. Add the onions and a big pinch of salt. Cook, stirring occasionally and lowering the heat if needed, until the pieces are soft, translucent, and beginning to brown, about 12 minutes.
- Meanwhile, cut away the broccoli stalks’ tough exteriors. Chop all the stalks into bite-size pieces and add these to a bowl. Chop what’s left into bite-size florets; add half of these to the bowl and the other half to a rimmed sheet pan.
- When the onions are ready, add 6 cups of water to the pot, along with a couple pinches of salt. Increase the heat to bring the water to a boil.
- While the water is heating up, generously drizzle the broccoli florets on the sheet pan with oil and sprinkle with salt. Toss with your hands, then spread out the broccoli as much as possible. Roast for about 15 minutes, until the bottoms are deeply browned and the stalks are knife-tender.
- When the onion water reaches a boil, add the broccoli stalks and florets in the bowl. Boil until the water is golden in hue and the broccoli stalks are fork-tender, about 8 minutes.
- Use a slotted spoon or spider to transfer the onions and broccoli from the stockpot to a blender. Blend until smooth. Add all but 1 cup of grated cheddar (we’re using that in a bit) to the blender. Blend again. Add 2 cups of vegetable stock from the stockpot and purée again. You should have about 2 cups of stock remaining; add more to the blender if you want the soup thinner; otherwise, pour the leftover stock into a container and refrigerate or freeze for soupy situations down the road.
- Pour the puréed soup into the emptied stockpot. If needed, set over low heat to stay warm.
- When the roasted broccoli is ready, remove the sheet pan from the oven. Increase the oven to 475°F. Sprinkle the remaining 1 cup of grated cheese on top of the roasted broccoli florets. Return to the oven and roast until the cheese is lacey and deeply golden brown, about 5 minutes (you can rotate the sheet pan if needed for even cooking). Pull from the oven and let cool for a few minutes to slightly crisp.
- Divide the soup into 4 bowls and evenly divide the crispy-cheesy broccoli florets on top.