Broccoli “Cheez” Soup

My mother reminded me a couple of years ago that in college I was a big fan of broccoli cheese soup. I recalled that I’d order it for lunch from a restaurant near the record store I worked in and my mother would put cans of the Campbells variety in the care packages she made for me, but my favorite way to enjoy it was in bread bowls at the Renaissance Festival. So I decided to veganize this old favorite, which turned out to be very easy to do and very tasty!

I’ve been making this meal for a couple of years now, but why I chose one of the first days it feels as hot as summer – and Mark’s whining about the heat hasn’t yet turned so insistent that I agree to turn the air conditioning on – to make what is usually cold-weather comfort food, I do not know. But we ate it both Saturday and Sunday for dinner and Mark was disappointed when there were no seconds available on Sunday, so even if you live in a climate that’s currently turning to summer, don’t be disinclined to try it. Even if you want to serve it in bread bowls as I did and baking bread heats up your kitchen to some hellish temperature.

Broccoli Cheez Soup

1 large onion, chopped
4 cups vegetable stock or vegan “chicken” broth (I’ve used the “chicken” stock here despite the fact that it used to really piss me off when restaurants would use chicken stock in an otherwise vegetarian soup)
2 small or 1 large head of broccoli
1/2 recipe pimiento cheez

Chop the broccoli, including the stems. You don’t need to be neat about separating the florets because most of them will be pureed. Heat a large pot on medium heat, then warm a little bit of oil and add the onions.

Saute the onions until begining to turn brown.

(Mine look extra brown in places because it was at this time when I discovered I couldn’t reach my server and I was away from the kitchen for longer than I’d anticipated.)

Add the broccoli and the broth or stock.

Turn the heat down to medium-low, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes or until broccoli is very soft. Add the cheez.

Heat for 5 more minutes or until cheez is melted.

Puree, making it as smooth or chunky as you like.

As I’ve mentioned before, an immersion blender is great for this type of thing, however, if you are considering buying one, do NOT under any circumstances buy the Cuisinart CSB-77 Smart Stick Hand Blender. I have gone through TWO of them. They both worked for about 3 uses, then the blade stopped turning (the motor sounds fine). I can see what the problem is (two pieces of metal are not making contact as they should), but both of them had the same problem and neither one lasted a month. (If anyone wants to recommend another brand, please do so!)

If you don’t have an immersion blender, like me, suddenly, let the soup cool down before pureeing in batches in a blender or food processor. I know I stress this repeatedly, but do not put hot liquids into a blender, and even when blending warm liquids, fill the blender only half full. I pureed three batches and left a fourth un-pureed so I’d have some bits of broccoli floating around.

Serve in bread bowls.

Note: if you make a full batch of the pimiento cheez, one suggestion I have for the leftover cheez is to use it in a burrito, as I did for lunch today. I mashed up a can of pinto beans, added some of the leftover pimiento cheez and some salsa, and microwaved it for about 3 minutes. Roll up in a tortilla with chopped onions, leftover rice if you have any, and some hot sauce. Super-fast burrito!

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