Anyone who knows me well knows that I’m not a huge fan of broccoli – unless it’s hidden super well in a dish that is loaded with cheese. (Think broccoli cheese rice casserole.)
With the arrival of my dad in town for the next month, I decided I needed to step it up on the healthy eating. Whenever he’s here the fridge is filled with stuff like broccoli, spinach, carrots and flax-seed oil. This time I was ready for his arrival. Both my sister and my dad thought this soup was delicious. My sister – who doesn’t follow my blog as she’s here to personally witness everything I make – even asked me to be sure to send her this link. That’s saying a lot!
- 1 lb fresh broccoli
- ¼ c. extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 shallots, chopped
- 1 tsp. hot red chili flakes
- 5 fresh garlic cloves: 2 thinly sliced, 3 halved (divided)
- 4 c. hot chicken or vegetable broth
- 2 c. hot water
- 1 3-inch piece Parmigiano Reggiano Rind
- 1 c. dry Cannelinni beans
- 10 hand cut slices of crusty whole grain bread, toasted (optional)
- ½ c. freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
- Start preparing the beans the day before you want to cook your soup. Soak the beans overnight. Drain and rinse the beans and put into a medium-sized saucepan. Add four cups of water and a teaspoon of salt and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer about one or two hours. Drain and rinse beans with cold water.
- Remove and discard the tough end of the broccoli stems, and coarsely chop the broccoli.
- Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add shallots and cook, stirring frequently, 5 minutes. Add red pepper flakes and sliced garlic, and cook one minute, stirring constantly. Add broccoli and one tablespoon of sea salt and cook five minutes, stirring constantly.
- Add hot broth and water and cheese rind. Increase heat to medium-high, bring to a boil and cook three minutes. Then reduce the heat and simmer 20 minutes.
- Remove the cheese rind, cut into 1/4-inch cubes and set aside.
- Transfer soup in small batches and half the amount of beans to a blender or food processor, cover tightly and blend until smooth. (If desired, blend all beans completely.) Return soup to Dutch oven and add cheese rind pieces. Season to taste with salt and simmer 10 minutes.
- Optional: Add remaining beans and simmer another 10 minutes.
- Optional: Rub both sides of the toasted bread with the cut sides of the garlic cloves. Tear the toasts into bite size pieces and divide them evenly among warmed soup bowls. Ladle soup over the toast pieces in each bowl. Top with grated cheese and serve with crusty bread and some butter, if desired.
Serves 4 to 6.
To make this dish vegetarian, use vegetable broth or all water. (The recipe I used actually called for all water – I opted for chicken broth for more flavor.) You don’t need a lot of bread pieces in your bowl as the soup will quickly be absorbed into the bread turning the soup into a thick stew-like consistency.
What I like about this soup is that it not only tastes healthy but tastes good. And it’s not even drowning in cheese!