Monday, March 23, 2009


I am in full-on spring eating mode, which means I want to eat nothing but green, lemony things all day long. So although ordinarily I wouldn’t say a broccoli soup sounds exactly irresistible, this soup, full of not just broccoli but also leeks, green onion, chive, Parmesan, and lemon, called out to me with a siren song the instant I first saw it at Orangette. Obviously the superstar here is the lemon-chive cream, which would make a delicious dip on its own (and indeed, is reminiscent of some perfected form of sour-cream-and-onion potato chips), but the soup is nothing to sneeze at later. A far cry from heavy, army-green, cabbage-smelling cream of broccoli soups you may have met before, this is a simple, light (but with those rich spikes of cream), fresh concoction that’s the perfect way to celebrate the coming of spring. Even A, who confessed he was suspicious of this soup while I was making it, gives it the thumbs up.

I’m not a huge sour cream fan, so I used crème fraiche instead. (It only came in half-cup containers, so I ended up making a half-recipe of the lemon-chive cream, and that was plenty sufficient for the four servings of soup we got.) It was mad delicious (I may have licked the container clean when no one was looking), but it did lack a little zip, being not as sour as actual sour cream, so I ended up doubling the lemon juice. Next time I may try Greek or European-style plain yogurt instead.

For the soup:
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 medium leeks, white and tender green parts only, sliced
1 small yellow onion, coarsely chopped
3 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
1½ pounds broccoli, both crowns and stems, trimmed and coarsely chopped
5 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1 rind (about 2 inches square) from a piece of Parmesan cheese
¾ teaspoon kosher salt, or less if your broth is well salted

For the sour cream:
1 cup sour cream, crème fraiche, or plain yogurt (preferably Greek yogurt)
2 scallions, white and pale green parts only, very thinly sliced
¼ cup minced chives
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
½ cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
½ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon pressed or minced garlic

1. In a stockpot or Dutch oven, warm the butter and oil over medium heat. Add the leeks and onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until they have softened and the onion is translucent, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for one minute. Add the broccoli, stock, Parmesan rind, and salt and stir to mix. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook, partially covered, until the broccoli is tender, about 20 minutes.

2. While the soup cooks, prepare the cream. In a medium bowl, stir together the sour cream, scallions, chives, lemon zest, lemon juice, grated Parmesan, salt, and garlic, mixing until fully combined. Taste, and adjust as necessary. (If you are using crème fraiche, you may want to add more lemon juice; if you are using yogurt, you may want to use less lemon juice and/or add some olive oil and a pinch of sugar.)

3. To finish the soup, remove the Parmesan rind. Using a blender and working in small batches, purée until very smooth, then return the soup to the pot (or purée it in the pot with an immersion blender). Add a few dollops of the cream mixture (about ⅓ cup) and stir to incorporate. Taste for seasoning, and adjust as necessary. If needed, rewarm the soup gently over low heat. Serve the soup with a spoonful or two of the remaining cream on top.

Serves: 4–6
Time: 40 minutes
Leftover potential: Good. The freshness of this soup is one of its main selling points, so I wouldn’t keep it for days on end, but I did eat the leftovers for lunch the next day, and as usual with soup, the flavor had only improved overnight.

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