Tag Archives: broccoli

Broccoli Soup

This broccoli soup recipe marks the calendar with finally being the time of year when it’s getting cold enough to drag out the old soup pot, chop up some vegetables and enjoy a steamy bowl of warming soup.  With the sun still shining, we can’t be too depressed about the imminent winter, but can instead celebrate the best of the season’s produce and remember all the good things that come with the changing seasons, and even the seemingly never-ending British winter when it gets here.  You have to admit to looking forward to a full roast dinner, shepherd’s pie or casserole at some point this summer while forking your way through yet another crisp salad….

The nights are drawing in and there’s a morning chill in the air, so head to the supermarket or your local farmers’ market and pick up some cheap, seasonal broccoli and put together this deliciously quick and simple soup.  Trust me, it tastes much better than it sounds!  It may be green but remember you have all that leek, onion and chicken stock to give you flavour.  Don’t overcook the broccoli and add plenty of black pepper and the job’s a good’un. Charles ate his up topped with some finely grated Italian Hard Cheese (Parmesan that isn’t from Parmegiano, in other words), but it’s great on its own as well. I used mostly fresh herbs for this recipe because Charles is pretty good about making sure we have plenty of them in the garden but dried herbs will work too if that’s the most economical option for you.

Broccoli Soup

Broccoli Soup

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 onions, sliced
  • 2 cloves grated garlic
  • 1 large leek
  • 4 heads of broccoli
  • 3 chicken stock cubes
  • sprig fresh mint
  • a few leaves of fresh parsley
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • plenty of salt and pepper
  • a soup pot and a stick blender are also pretty essential!

Instructions

  1. Drag your soup pot out onto the hob and add the olive oil. Turn the hob up to medium and add in the sliced onion and garlic.
  2. Cut off the woodiest ends of the leek, clean all the grit out and slice and add it to the pot. Cook until turning translucent, whilst chopping the broccoli into florets and chunks of stalk, removing any leaves.
  3. Prepare the stock by dissolving the stock cubes in boiling water and add to the soup pot. Add the broccoli and top up with water until covered.
  4. Add the herbs and seasoning and cover the pot with its lid.
  5. Simmer for around 10 to 15 minutes or until the broccoli is cooked through.
  6. Allow to cool a little and then blend until smooth with your stick blender. I prefer to decant it into a large bowl first to protect my non-stick soup pot. If you only have a jug blender, I would recommend leaving the soup until it's completely cool to avoid the risk of scalding yourself.
  7. Once the soup has been blended to an even consistency, taste for seasoning and season to taste, including lots of black pepper.
  8. Now serve it up for lunch. It should keep in the fridge for 4-5 days, stored in airtight containers, but will also freeze really well in ready-to-heat portions.
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If you enjoyed this recipe, why not try our Beef and Broccoli recipe?  Or even another of our soup recipes if broccoli isn’t your thing.

Beef and Broccoli Stir Fry

As I do every year, I spent Christmas 2014 with my family, surrounded by far too much rich food and wine and generally loafing around for too long.  So, by the time the new work year swang around, I was really craving something fresh, tasty and simple to cook to start my recipe diary.  This recipe is really quick, very simple, delicious and looks fairly impressive, as well as filling you up with lots of wholesome, fresh ingredients.  You should know, as an aside, that I have as many recipe books as I can possibly fit into my one-bed flat, but I hardly ever use them.  Even when I do read them, I generally just flick through them for inspiration.  When there’s something I like the look of, I Google, read other books and watch videos on YouTube to get the general gist of something before making up my own version, as there are generally ingredients I want to miss out (lemongrass, fresh coriander etc.) as well as extras I think will add another dimension to the dish.  True to this ‘philosophy’ as it were, feel free to add or take away anything you like or dislike – I’d love to hear what makes your version yours!

IMG_3894

You might want (to serve one, or multiples of to serve the masses):

1 steak (I used topside because it was on offer in M&S but use whatever quality of beef you like)

1 clove garlic, grated or crushed

1 inch square piece of ginger (none of this thumb-sized nonsense), grated

1/2 an onion (I used a white one to give things a Chinese takeaway feel), sliced

1/2 a red pepper, chopped or stripped

6 or so florets of broccoli

3 spring onions, chopped

1 tsp brown sugar/honey if you want it a bit healthier

beef stock

soy sauce to taste

a small amount of cornflour and cold water to hand

1.  Take your steak out of the fridge half an hour or so before you plan to start cooking, although this step is less essential when the temperature in the kitchen is hardly any higher than the temperature in the fridge!  Slice into strips and toss in a bowl with around a tablespoon of cornflour and 1 teaspoon of soy sauce. You may prefer more or less of either, but the idea is to give the steak a good coating and then leave to sit for 10 minutes or so.

2.  At this point, if I’m using regular broccoli, I stick it in some hot water for a few minutes to start cooking it through.  This is an optional step depending on the tenderness of your broccoli and how crunchy you like it.

3.  Put some oil in a large pan or wok and turn up the heat!   When the oil has reached a fierce temperature, throw in the beef strips in small batches – you’re looking to sear these to seal in the beefy juices and get some good colour on the outside, because it’ll look nice and taste better, without cooking the beef through. If you chuck it all in at once, there’s likely to be too much water in your pan, meaning the beef will boil rather than sear.  Remove from the wok as soon as it has good colour on both sides and place somewhere relatively cool to stop the cooking process in its tracks.

4. Without wasting any of the nice caramelisation in the pan (although you may want to add a little more oil), sauté the onion, garlic and ginger then add the pepper, depending on how crunchy you like it, and then the broccoli, bearing in mind that you want to get more heat and flavour into the broccoli than colour – you might want to turn the heat down and allow everything to soften and sweeten a bit – for 5-10 mins.

5. Mix the stock, sugar/honey and soy together in a bowl and add to the pan, cranking the heat back up to let everything reduce down.

6.  Mix a couple of teaspoons of cornflour with enough water to cover it then add to the pan, stirring rapidly to let the mixture thicken the sauce.  You’re aiming for a sauce that will coat the beef and veg – not a pool to drown your rice in.  Add half of the chopped spring onions to wilt a little.

7.  Once you’re happy with the consistency of the sauce, put the beef and its resting juices back in the pan for a minute or so, depending on how well done you like it – pink is best!

Serve with jasmine rice, brown rice or noodles and sprinkle with the rest of the chopped spring onions.