lightened up broccoli cheddar soup

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Ok, with that streak of six straight cookie/bar recipes interrupted only by a cocktail recipe still weighing on my conscience, I figured maybe it was about time for something, I don’t know, with a little less butter and sugar. First up was the wild mushroom, zucchini and goat cheese frittata, and now, broccoli cheddar soup. Broccoli cheddar soup, you ask? How can that be healthy? Well, rest assured, it’s not by using 75% reduced fat cheese, because I would never allow such a thing in my kitchen. Nope, this recipe uses good ol’ fashioned delicious and very real cheese. It just uses a litte less than some recipes and uses low fat milk instead of heavy cream.

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I adore broccoli cheddar soup, but I never make it or order it out because it just seems so decadent and I’d kind of rather save room for some chocolate cake. So I’m thrilled to have found a recipe that tastes good and doesn’t make me have to stay at the gym an extra hour to work off the calories. The recipe comes from Ellie Krieger, dietician and Food Network star, and creator of many other recipes that I love (such as mac ‘n squashpenne with roasted tomatoes, garlic, and white beans, and Chinese chicken salad). While her show isn’t my favorite (I’m sure she’s a lovely person, but she doesn’t have the best TV personality), I love her recipes. They’re healthy, tasty, and don’t rely on weird diet food products.

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According to Krieger, your typical bowl of broccoli cheddar soup has a whopping 700 calories, but with her modifications, this soup has only 320. Not bad at all! If you’re looking for a delicious and comforting soup with real cheese and broccoli you can actually taste, this recipe right here is gonna do it.

Because this recipe calls for a little less cheese than some recipes, it’s important to use the good stuff: sharp cheddar cheese. Personally, I’ve never understood the point of mild cheddar, but if that’s your thing, you may want to consider upping the ante for this recipe. I used Cabot’s Seriously Sharp Cheddar, which gives the soup a healthy dose of heavenly cheddar flavor without having to add cups and cups of cheese. And unless you’re really pressed for time, I recommend grating your own cheese. Not only is it cheaper, but it also melts better than the pre-shredded stuff which is coated  with an anti-clumping agent so that it doesn’t stick to itself in the bag.

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So why not warm up with a nice hot bowl of healthier broccoli cheddar soup? And don’t forget to enter the OXO giveaway by midnight Monday night!

Broccoli Cheddar Soup

Yield: Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 large head broccoli, florets and tender part of stem chopped (about 6 cups)
  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • 2 cups skim or 1% milk
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 1/4 cups (5 ounces) lightly packed shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste

Instructions

  1. Heat the oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring, until softened and translucent, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic and nutmeg and cook for 30 seconds. Add the broccoli and chicken broth and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium low and cook until the broccoli is tender, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and cool slightly, about 15 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, whisk together the milk and flour until dissolved. Heat the mixture over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, and bring to a gentle boil. Reduce the heat to medium low and cook, stirring occasionally, until the mixture has thickened, about 3 minutes. Be careful not to scorch the milk! Add one cup of the cheese and cook, stirring, until melted, 2 minutes more. Removed from the heat and cover to keep warm.
  3. Use an immersion blender and puree the broccoli mixture, until it is mostly smooth with a few chunks. (Alternatively, puree one cup at a time in a blender.) Stir in the cheese mixture, season with salt and pepper, and cook over low heat until warmed through. Serve topped with the remaining cheese.
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