Sunday, February 12, 2012

Sundays with Sparky - Swamp Monster (Broccoli-Cheddar) Soup

Vegetables don't have to be difficult: sometimes just adding a little whimsy to your food can make it magically, happily disappear. After preparing this recipe, Sparky and I devoured the whole thing, which meant we ate a half-pound of broccoli each!

I first saw this soup on (a reprint from Matthew Mead's Monster Book of Halloween,) and wanted to try it, but felt that the soup was complicated for an everyday food.  I later discovered that broccoli-cheese soup can be made easily with frozen broccoli, stock, cheddar and nothing else: Sparky decided to get all fancy on me and add a clove of garlic, but you can easily do without.  He often asks for this soup in a thermos for lunch; I pack the garnish in a separate, chilled container (hot foods hot, cold foods cold, right?) and he assembles it and demolishes it at school.

This soup could not be simpler:

001Frozen broccoli (since it gets blended, feel free to go cheap.)  We used a 16 oz bag.
Stock of your choice - we used about 15 oz.
About 1/3 cup of shredded cheddar cheese per pound of broccoli
One peeled clove of garlic if you are heading into your teens and insist on getting all hoity-toity with your food

One hardboiled egg per serving of soup (this was about 3-4 servings, but we split it in half and called it dinner for 2)
Sliced black olives
Chopped parsley (if desired)

0021. Cut open bag of broccoli.  Peel your garlic clove (if using.)


2. Dump broccoli in saucepan, add whole garlic clove, cover with stock (we happened to have homemade, but canned is fine.)  Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until broccoli shows slight resistance to a fork, tender but still bright green.


3. Carefully blend with stick blender to desired consistency (Sparky likes it quite smooth.  You can also pour it into a conventional blender or food processor to blend.)

0094. Add shredded cheese (we use sharp cheddar) and blend until combined.  Your soup is now done, and can be served as is.  (I don't add salt; the stock and cheese offer enough.  YMMV.)

For the garnish, carefully hard-cook your eggs.  Peel them and slice them carefully in half.   Top each egg yolk with an olive "iris" and a caper "pupil." (You could also use sliced pimento-stuffed green olives and omit the caper.)  Carefully float the two egg halves in each bowl of soup, and sprinkle parsley under them  to make it look like your monster is foaming at the mouth.

Sparky decided his Swamp Monster looked too happy, so he doctored up his bowl a bit before dismembering the "eyeballs" with his spoon:



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