21 Mar Broccoli Cheddar Soup
4 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 small onion, chopped small
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup half-and-half
4 cups low-sodium vegetable or chicken broth
1 bay leaf
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1 1/4 lbs broccoli or 4 cups broccoli florets and stems, chopped small
1 large carrot (about 6 oz) or 2 slim ones, chopped tiny (1 cup)
8 oz (about 2 1/2 cups) coarsely grated sharp cheddar cheese, plus a pinch extra for garnish
Melt the butter in a large, heavy pot over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook until tender, about 3-5 minutes.
Stir in the flour and cook until golden, 3-4 minutes, then gradually whisk in the half-and-half until smooth.
Add the chicken broth, bay leaf, salt, and pepper and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to med-low and cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened, about 10 minutes.
Add the broccoli and carrot to the broth mixture and simmer until tender, about 15-20 minutes. Discard the bay leaf and adjust seasoning if needed, but err on the cautious side with the salt because the cheese will add a bit. Puree the soup to your desired texture with an immersion blender or in an upright one. Back on the stove, add cheese and whisk until melted, about 1 minute.
Serve in bowls, garnished with a pinch of cheese.
Instead of 1 cup half-and-half, you could use 1/2 cup milk + 1/2 cup heavy cream, 1/2 cup heavy cream + 1/2 cup additional stock or broth. I like to use both broccoli florets and stems when I cook and I find that the stems cook up with the best texture and at the same rate as the florets when I peel them first.