Friends, it’s taken me way too long to write about this broccoli soup and while I much ephemera to share with you, like how I ran into Jason Segel and was so excited, I lost all ability to speak, they will all have to wait.
I’ve got a few weeks left with the book until I get to hand it in, then tell you all about it. But until then, I’m going into hiding: just me and my trusty computer. Maybe a few pens, a highlighter or two, and a notebook.
Wish me luck. And make this soup. I suspect that by the time you read this line, you’ve figured it out already.
Chilled Broccoli Soup
Depending on how much of broccoli you want your soup to taste, you will choose to use water, vegetable stock, or chicken stock. Sometimes I want my soup to have more heft, in which case, I pull out some stock from my freezer stock-piles (get it? Stock piles? Heh.) Other times I want it to taste so purely of broccoli, I don’t want anything else to get in the way – so I use water. Which works out particularly well on days when I didn’t plan ahead. I omitted the garlic here because, when it comes to chilled summer soups, and I want to highlight a particular vegetable, garlic can sort of be an attention hog. If you really can’t skip garlic in your soup, I suggest using something mild, like garlic scapes to give it a garlicky hint, but at the same time, it won’t be hijacking the soup’s true broccoli flavor, which is clean, refreshing, and lovely.
In making this soup, I realized that it’s one of those perfect things that can be made for a cocktail party. You make the soup ahead of time and then pour it into little shooters and then guests can have it as a tiny h’ors d’oeuvre. If you’re hosting one of those fancy dinner parties, it’s a great thing to serve as an amuse bouche perhaps – though that leaves you with quite a bit of soup for the next day. But I don’t think that’s hardly a problem, do you?
1 pound broccoli (about 1 bunch), chopped into florets stems included and chopped as well
1 Vidalia onion, chopped
4 cups vegetable stock, chicken stock or water
1 cup buttermilk
1/4 to 1/3 cup chopped fresh dill
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
Juice of 1 lemon, plus more to taste
Freshly ground black pepper
1. In a stock pot or a Dutch oven (about 5 quarts should do it), warm enough olive oil to cover the bottom of the pan over medium-high heat until it shimmers. Add the broccoli (you may need to do this in batches) so that it has room between the florets, and brown the broccoli on one side, about 3 to 4 minutes. While the broccoli is browning, do not move or stir the broccoli. Remove from the pot and set aside. Repeat with the remaining broccoli; add more olive oil if necessary.
2. If you need to add some oil to cook the onion, add a glug of it, and then add the onion. Reduce the heat to medium, and cook the onion until it is soft, about 5 minutes. It’s okay for the onion to pick up a tiny bit of color, but don’t let it get too much color. Add the broccoli back and add the stock or water, depending on your preference. Reduce the heat to low, cover the pot, and let the soup gently simmer for about 15 minutes or so, or until the broccoli is fork tender.
3. Transfer the soup to a blender (you may need to do this in batches) or using an immersion blender, puree the soup until completely smooth. Add the buttermilk, dill, olive oil, lemon juice, and salt and pepper, to taste, and puree until everything is silky smooth and emulsified.
4. Refrigerate the soup for at least 2 hours, or until completely chilled. Serve cold with a drizzle of olive oil and a squeeze of lemon juice.