I am so fussy about soup.
I cannot abide tinned. It’s not coz I’m a food snob. Really, I’m not. I use supermarket value own-brand tinned soup as a cheat in recipes for other things. It’s cheap and useful as a base for all sorts of stews, casseroles and sauces if you’re short of time. I just don’t like eating it as soup. It tastes a bit weird and the vegetables are always a bit pappy. Certain flavours have those nasty sharp little bits of red pepper or tomato skin or chewy flavourless unidentifiable meat.
Anyway as I said, I’m fussy about soup. But soup’s good for you, right? It’s quick to heat up. Usually contains at least one of the hallowed five-a-day. It can be light and refreshing or hearty and comforting. I quite like a limited range of shop-bought fresh cartons or tubs. But they tend to be pretty pricy, usually at least £2.00 a tub.
The alternative is making my own. I used to think this must be a bit of a faff. Anyone who has read my previous recipes will know I don’t like faffy cooking. Tons of preparation, chopping, simmering and then trying to transfer it to a blender in batches, then back to the pan, whilst splashing yourself with molten vegetable lava and dripping it all over the kitchen and leaving a gazillion bits and bobs to wash up afterwards. FAFF.
But it really isn’t! Particularly once you discover the wonder of the hand blender. I originally bought mine very cheaply when I was weaning my eldest daughter and wanted to make my own baby food. Turns out it’s great for blitzing up soup too!
Broccoli and stilton is one of my favourite soups. I don’t even like stilton as a cheese on its own – too squidgy, too pongy, too strong. But in a soup it’s totally different – quite mellow, creamy, with a little bit of tang that hangs about afterwards. And this recipe is so straight-forward and tasty. My husband gets his stinky cheese fix and the toddler likes dipping her bread into it. These quantities easily serve four people with leftovers. Give it a go!
Bunch of spring onions
2 stalks of celery
500g frozen broccoli
1 pint of stock
2 cloves of garlic
150g stilton (or other blue cheese)
4tbs double cream (optional)
4-6 part-baked bread rolls
Heat some oil in a large, deep pan. Finely chop the spring onions and celery and soften for a few minutes.
Add the garlic and broccoli and let them heat through for a few more minutes before pouring in the stock. Crumble in the cheese, bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 5-10 mins. It will look like a murky swamp at this stage but fret not!
At this point I put some part-baked bread rolls into a pre-heated oven. Forward planning innit!
Take the soup off the heat and whizz it with the hand blender until it’s really smooth. Handy tip: while the blender is doing its thing, keep the blade under the surface to avoid splashing it all over yourself!
Check the thickness. If it’s too thick just add a little hot water from the kettle. If it’s too thin, leave it to reduce down (but remember your rolls are in the oven!).
Once you are happy with the consistency, add plenty of black pepper and taste. I don’t add salt in my cooking and the stilton is fairly salty already but this is entirely personal preference.
You can add the cream at this stage but if you want to cut some calories and fat, leave it out. It’s a creamy soup anyway due to the cheese so it’s not strictly necessary but adds richness to the flavour and texture. Give it a good stir and pop it back on the hob if it needs bringing back up to temperature.
Your hot, crusty rolls are probably ready by now. Enjoy!