I've got a bit of man flu going on at the moment, so I thought a nice hearty, healthy bowl of soup would be just what the doctor ordered. Then I threw a load of cheese and bacon into it.
Vegetable-based soups are incredibly cheap and easy, and they taste so much better than anything you can buy out of a tin. They're also a good way of introducing children/fussy eaters to vegetables.
Use the freshest broccoli you can get, as that way it compliments the cheese and thus creates a smoother flavour. Omit the bacon if you're vegetarian, obviously.
Ingredients (to serve four):
- Two large heads of broccoli
- A small knob of butter
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Two good quality streaky bacon rashers
- Small slice/chunk of Stilton
- Extra-virgin olive oil to drizzle
- Chop the florets off the broccoli, making sure none of them are too big (so that they cook evenly) and leave them in a colander to one side.
- Chop the stalks up into small chunks and fry them in butter in a large saucepan for a few minutes until they've started to turn golden. Add enough cold water to cover them, put the lid on and simmer for about 30 minutes. This will make a very simple broccoli stock.
- For a few minutes towards the end of the stock cooking time, place the colander on top of the saucepan, cover the florets with tin foil and then stick a lid on top. Let them steam until you can slide a knife right through them.
- Meanwhile, put your bacon rashers into a cold frying pan and turn the heat up to about medium-hot. Turn the rashers once and drain them on some kitchen paper to help them go crispy.
- Strain your stock into a heavy-based saucepan, reintroduce the florets and add your salt and pepper. You will probably have to dilute the stock a little with boiling water, but add it only a little bit at a time as you (obviously) don't want to make the soup watery. Using a hand blender, blitz it in between each addition of water and check that it's at a consistency you like; personally, I recommend you leave it on the thick side so that you have a nice concentration of broccoli flavour. Season to taste.
- When you serve the soup, crumble a little Stilton and crispy bacon in and give it a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil to finish.