This soup is a true nutritional powerhouse. Thanks to the addition of fresh spinach, thyme and lemon zest, it has amazing flavor without a lot of excess calories.
This recipe is by chef Michael Chiarello and was featured on an episode of his Food Network TV show, "Easy Entertaining with Michael Chiarello." This recipe was originally published in The Baltimore Sun.
- 1 1/2 pounds broccoli
- 2 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
- 2 Tablespoons minced garlic
- 1 Cup diced onion (1/4-inch pieces)
- 1/2 Cup diced celery (1/4-inch pieces)
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 2 Teaspoons finely chopped fresh thyme leaves
- 5 Cups chicken stock (or canned low-salt chicken broth)
- 2 Cups packed spinach
- 2 Teaspoons freshly grated lemon zest
- 1 Cup heavy cream or buttermilk (if using buttermilk, cut the lemon zest in half)
Step 1: Cut 1 1/2 pounds broccoli florets from the stems. Peel the tough outer skin from the stems and trim off the fibrous ends. Cut the stems lengthwise into slices about 1/2-inch thick and then crosswise into 1/2-inch pieces.
Step 2: In a soup pot over medium-high heat, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil and 1 tablespoon unsalted butter until hot. Add 2 tablespoons minced garlic and cook until light brown. Add 1 cup diced onion and 1/2 cup diced celery, lower the heat to medium, and season with salt and pepper. Cook the vegetables slowly until tender, about 10 minutes. Regulate the heat so the vegetables cook without taking on color.
Step 3: Add 2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh thyme leaves and stir. Add the broccoli stems, 5 cups chicken stock, and salt and pepper to taste, and bring to a boil. Cook, uncovered, for about 3 minutes. Add the broccoli florets and continue to cook until very tender, about 5 minutes more.
Step 4: Puree the soup in a blender in small batches. Add some of the spinach (2 cups in total) and some of the lemon zest (2 teaspoons in total) to each batch and then puree it. If using an immersion blender, turn off the heat and add the spinach and lemon zest to the pot all at once, then puree. (The soup can be made to this point, covered and refrigerated for up to 1 day or frozen for up to 1 month.)
Step 5: Reheat the soup over gentle heat. Stir in 1 cup heavy cream or buttermilk. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper. Keep warm.