Crisp vegetables have their place--and that place is generally on a tray of crudites, not in soup.
After my last sorta disappointing experiment with broccoli soup, I was eager to try a different technique that promised that slow-cooking the broccoli would produce something delicious, something were the broccoli's soft texture would be an asset rather than a mouthful of mushy meh. This recipe, from Alice Waters via James Peterson, promised to do exactly that.
I was a tinch dubious about this soup as I was cooking it. For one, the ingredients are so few and so simple--would they really combine synergistically to produce something greater than the sum of the parts?
For another, I didn't have either real-true-long-simmered chicken broth or my trusty standby Better-Than-Bouillon... so I was nervous about the flavor of the substitute quick & dirty broth we created from frozen chicken & veg trimmings.
For a final, I wasn't cooking at home--we're visiting Jac and Mike, and I was cooking in an unfamiliar kitchen with a glass-topped electric range unlike anything I'm at all used to.
Ultimately, though, even Mike, a notorious skeptic when it comes to my cooking in general and soup in particular, ended up tipping his bowl to the side and eating up the last stray drops of broth.
Slow-Cooked Broccoli Soup with Olive Oil
2 pounds broccoli
8 cloves garlic, sliced thinly
1/2 cup (no, seriously--though I probably used actually more like 1/3 cup) good olive oil
6 cups chicken broth (or good vegetable broth, esp. made with mushroom stems)
1 tsp salt, preferably sea salt
1 Tbsp fresh thyme leaves, chopped (or 1 tsp dried thyme leaves)
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
Salt and pepper to taste
Shaved or grated Parmesan cheese for serving
Trim the broccoli stalks, peel the stems and slice them thinly. Chop the crowns into 1" florets.
Combine broccoli, garlic, olive oil, broth, salt, thyme and pepper flakes in a soup pot. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer over very low heat for 1 hour or until broccoli is falling-apart tender. Taste and correct seasoning.
Ladle into bowls; top each serving with plenty of Parmesan cheese.
It's not a super-lovely color when it's done, but the flavor is seriously worth it. You could even garnish it with a squiggle of creme fraiche, were you so inclined and did you have creme fraiche hanging about.