Eat Well: Broccoli or Bust

The following post was written by my mom, WWW. Thanks mom!
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I have a huge confession to make: I don't like broccoli... the traditional mature heads of broccoli, the type you get at the store with thick stems and large florets. I love broccoli rabe, broccoli leaves, broccolini, and any other vegetables in the cole family:
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broccolini = love

In fact, they rate at the top of my vegetable love list and I have often talked about them here. I adore young picked home grown broccoli and especially savor the second, third, and fourth side shoots that appear after the first large head has been picked. I just can’t figure out what it is about the large heads that leave me cold but I guess others share this distaste. It’s probably the only thing George H.W. Bush and I have in common.

This week I was cleaning out my refrigerator and came across two HUGE bunches of mature broccoli, one that I got in my CSA box and the other left over from when the kids were here (the only green thing that Archer will eat is broccoli). So not wanting to be wasteful, I had to figure out something to do with it. “I could use it all up in one fell swoop if I make soup,” thought I, but as it turns out, I don’t even like cream of broccoli soup. (I know…I need serious therapy). But I decided it would be a good opportunity to experiment. Larry loves broccoli and all things soup, so I knew that if I couldn’t concoct a soup that I liked, he would happily eat it up.

The only dairy product I had in the house was organic low fat cottage cheese and because I now am the proud owner of a Vitamix, I decided to puree it to use as a thickener for the soup (this works GREAT I found out…it is kind of like crème fraiche). You could also use silken tofu the same way if you want to omit the dairy. And do you remember the garam masala I made several weeks back? I decided to add that to make a normally bland soup more interesting. The miracle is, I not only liked the soup, I LOVED it, so much so that we have been eating it every night for three nights and I am still not sick of it. So here it is, my broccoli hater’s cream of broccoli soup. Hope you like it as much as I do!!

Wendy’s Broccoli Haters Cream of Broccoli Soup
6 cups vegetable broth
2 cups water
2 potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 inch chunks
2 large carrots, peeled and cut into 1 inch chunks
1 onion, chopped
1 jalapeno chili, seeded and chopped
2 large bunches of broccoli, broken into florets (can use stems, too, if they are peeled)
2 cups low fat cottage cheese or silken tofu
2 teaspoons (more to taste) garam masala (either store bought or home made. Recipe here)
2 teaspoons curry powder
Salt and pepper to taste

Bring vegetable broth, carrots, onion, potatoes, and pepper to a boil. Cover and cook for 15 minutes. Add broccoli, curry powder and garam masala (or cumin and curry powder) and bring back to a boil.
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Turn down and cook for another 15 minutes or until broccoli is tender (don’t over cook). Meanwhile, in a blender, puree cottage cheese or silken tofu until completely creamy.
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When vegetables are tender, puree with an immersion blender or blend in batches in a blender. Add blended cottage cheese or silken tofu and blend until combined.
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Add salt and pepper to taste and add more seasonings if desired. Simmer until hot and serve. Makes 8-10 servings.
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***

The day after I made the soup, I was thumbing through Dr. Weil’s book, “Spontaneous Healing” and just happened to open it to the page where he extols the virtues of broccoli’s “cancer-protective effect” via the compound sulphoraphane. After insisting on the importance of eating broccoli, he recommends to those of us who think we don’t like broccoli to cook it the following way:

Dr. Weil’s Broccoli
(for those who think they don’t like broccoli)
1 large bunch of broccoli
¼ cup water
1 T extra virgin olive oil
Several cloves of mashed or chopped garlic (I used 4)
Salt to taste
Red pepper flakes
Parmesan cheese

Cut off the main stem of the broccoli, peel it beneath the fibrous layer, and cut into edible chunks.
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Separate the head of broccoli into bite-size pieces and peel a bit of the skin from the stems to make them more tender. Place broccoli in a pot with the water, oil, salt to taste, and garlic. Bring to a boil, cover tightly, and let steam until it turns bright green and is crunchy-tender, no more than five minutes. Remove the lid and boil off most of the liquid. Season with red pepper flakes and Parmesan cheese.
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Serve as a side dish or with pasta.

***

I made this recipe tonight and I have to admit Dr. Weil is right—it’s really delicious, owing, I’m sure, to the large amount of garlic in the recipe. I think the trick to making broccoli palatable to those of us who aren’t broccoli fans is to cook it with strong flavored ingredients such as garam masala or garlic. When David was little, he loved dill pickles but hated broccoli so I would soak his broccoli in pickle juice. For years, that’s the only way he would eat it. Maybe all these years I should have been eating it that way too!

Do you like broccoli? Do you have a favorite way of cooking it? I’d love to hear from you!

Love,
WWW

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38 comments:

Mary Ruth Gilliam | 9:13 AM

I love steamed broccoli with just a little butter and a little sea salt. It's amazing!!

Thanks for sharing, broccoli is my favorite green veggie!!

Vics | 9:20 AM

I'm not a huge broccoli fan but I recently found a recipe for the most amazing broccoli and cauliflower soup and I have been making it twice a week since!
The recipe is here: http://britishfood.about.com/od/starters/r/soup.htm
and it's incredible, I can't get enough! It's creamy and delicious and the mustard adds a little extra zing! I will be trying your recipe too this weekend as it looked delicious!

Daisy | 9:23 AM

I love roasted broccoli- I toss it with olive oil, cracked black pepper & Garlic Gold (sea salt + dried garlic, yum) and roast it at 400 on a cooking sheet until it is brown and crispy. So good!

SUPAHMAMA! | 9:37 AM

My son and I love broccoli, Husband tolerates it and my daughter absolutely LOATHES it... unless it's all but minced in a quiche.

Gonna have to try both recipes!

Heather | 9:38 AM

I'm obsessed with broccoli! When I was young my mom would cook two heads of broccoli at dinner. One for me and one for the rest of the family. I'm going to have to give these recipes a try. :)

Courtney | 9:47 AM

I second roasted broccoli! It's awesome when it's nice and brown and crispy.

LoloMyDear | 9:56 AM

I hate broccoli. I'm totally with WWW and HW on that one. But, I have to admit I'm intrigued by this recipe. Is there a substitute for both cottage cheese and tofu? I don't do dairy and I'm allergic to soy (I know - it makes life hard!), so I'm wondering if there is something else I could use for the "cream" part. Pureed beans, maybe? Or seitan?

Molly | 10:10 AM

I love broccoli. I make a broccoli salad with shallots, dried cranberries, slivered almonds (or toasted pecans), and Parmesan with a red wine vinaigrette dressing that I eat all summer. Sometimes I replace the Parmesan with a few crumbles of Gorgonzola dolce instead. There's been quite a bit of broccoli-cheese soup in my house this winter, but with nutmeg instead of garam masala.

Home Sweet Sarah | 10:10 AM

Hey WWW! I see others have already suggested it, but roasted broccoli is to die. I'll often just take a head of broc, a head of cauliflower, some asparagus, and some onions (all cut to manageable sizes, of course), toss with OO, S&P, and then roast at 425 or so for 15 minutes. Crispy and delicious!

Emily | 10:21 AM

Another fan of roasted broccoli -- we make it with OO, a little lemon juice, salt and pepper, and then some nice big flakes of shaved parmesan upon serving. To die for.

I also really enjoy it steamed, and then tossed with a dressing made with vegetable oil, soy sauce, sugar and a little vinegar with a few sesame seeds sprinkled on top...I could seriously eat a barrel of it either way.

SusanH | 10:22 AM

Yes, I "third" the roasted broccoli. But I even take it up a notch. There's a restaurant here in Seattle that serves "blasted broccoli", which is cooked in such a hot oven that it looks almost burned. It's crispy and salty and delicious. The trick is to make sure your broccoli is room temperature and dry before you cook it. That way it crisps instead of steams. http://burprecipes.blogspot.com/2008/07/blasted-broccoli.html

Molly: that broccoli salad looks amazing! Do you cook the shallots first?

My other go-to broccoli preparation is to fry it in a cast-iron pan in a little olive oil and butter. The trick here is to slice the florets in half lengthwise so there's a flat side. Then put the flat side down and leave it until it's browned. Gives it a richer, more complex flavor and texture vs steamed broccoli. Then spritz lemon juice, salt and pepper on top.

Carina Bassin | 10:28 AM

Hi WWW! I do love broccoli, so my recipe might not work for you, but I love roasting it like Daisy said. A generous amount of oil, really good salt and pepper, then roast until it's pretty darn brown. It gets very caramelized and sweet.

Glenda | 10:43 AM

I love broccoli. Roasted, steamed, in stir fry, with cheese sauce, with dip, LOVE!

Thanks for these recipes. Will have to try them!

Homegirl Quel in Austin | 10:59 AM

That SNL video was one of the highlights of my childhood! My cousins and I still sing lines form that song now! ANd broccoli...yum.

Anonymous | 11:08 AM

I do love broccoli, so I just eat it simply. Steamed with a touch of butter and salt and pepper. But I can't wait to try your other recipes. My husband is a broccoli hater, so we'll see how that goes over...

Thanks for your post. I enjoyed it!

Althea | 11:12 AM

Roasted broccoli tossed with olive oil, kosher salt and pepper. Win.

Arnebya | 11:56 AM

We love broccoli (the girls would prefer I smother theirs in cheese, but I don't (all the time)). I love raw broccoli with ranch dressing as a snack. Normally, I steam it with a little olive oil or butter in the water. I try not to oversteam (I have a tendency to wind up with too-soft veggies). I will admit to not eating the stalks, though. If raw, I cut them down to florets and if I buy frozen, I buy florets only.

I love broccoli and cheese soup or cream of brccoli. I'll definitely try yours.

Wendy Woolf | 12:17 PM

LoloMyDear....you can thicken it with more potatoes or even ground up garbanzo beans (or garbanzo bean flour).

Thanks everyone for your recipes. They look yummy!

jandgandt | 12:18 PM

Haha! My dad and I used to sing the "chopping broccoli" song to each other all the time. Dana Carvey is pretty excellent for injecting absurdity into daily life.

M | 1:12 PM

Thanks for the great soup recipe - I too am not a huge fan of broccoli, so I am looking forward to trying this soup.
I grew up in Turkey, where we cook veggies very differently, and did not have broccoli available when I was a child. My mom was stumped when we were living in the states and was appalled with the cheese drenched method my American grandmother used to serve it. So she improvised: steamed (still with crunch) and dressed in lemon juice, olive oil, and a bit of salt and pepper. The lemon juice really added a nice touch to it. I've been making it at home like that as well - also adding in on finely minced garlic clove right after cooking but before adding the EVOO and lemon juice. Pretty yummy and light. Oh, and easy. I also roast it occasionally with garlic and parmesan. I cook green beans the same way as well, particularly french green beans. If you ever want to get some Turkish methods to cook veggies (we do them a lot stewed with tomatoes), let me know! Thanks for all your recipes, I have been enjoying them. Also thanks for the intro to Six Spices. It has become my go to cookbook...

Kim | 1:22 PM

I have to be careful to not ridicule my kids into not liking their veggies. But when my daughter is asked what she wants for dinner, and answers "Broccoli!" I have to wonder. My son won't eat corn or peas, but will eat broccoli. (I think it has something to do with him being a dinosaur who eats trees.)

I'm not a broc-hater, but really, I've never seen someone love broccoli so much!

Kim | 1:23 PM

I have to be careful to not ridicule my kids into not liking their veggies. But when my daughter is asked what she wants for dinner, and answers "Broccoli!" I have to wonder. My son won't eat corn or peas, but will eat broccoli. (I think it has something to do with him being a dinosaur who eats trees.)

I'm not a broc-hater, but really, I've never seen someone love broccoli so much!

Deb | 2:11 PM

What a great idea! I love soup and I especially love broccoli of any kind. I'm going to try to make this--so thank you!

My favorite is broccoli rabe. I used to hate it as a kid because it was so bitter. My mom used to get me to eat it, telling me that it was good for my skin (I had bad acne) and so, I cringed and ate the stuff. Now, I love it and make it often, and sometimes I add in pieces of sweet Italian sausage and then throw it into a huge thing of linguini. I make it with tons of garlic. You will reek for days, but the stuff is like heavenly drugs. It's definitely an acquired taste for beginners but it's one of my favorite dishes.

Molly | 2:57 PM

@SusanH: shallots are raw, just finely diced. Although, I'm sure you could saute them in a little olive oil, then use the olive oil in the dressing. Maybe I'll try that next time.

Lisa | 5:12 PM

I love broccoli! I find myself craving broccoli sometimes. Supposedly, when I was a little girl and I was sick, I kept asking my parents for broccoli. They thought it was odd and mentioned it to the doctor. From what they told me recently, the Dr. told them it made sense because I was fighting a blood infection of some sort and broccoli has something in it that helps clean the blood. Mind you, this was years ago (early 90s maybe or even late 80s) so my parents might not be remembering correctly. But I thought that was interesting.

Mama Smith | 7:25 PM

Broccoli is my vary favorite- and of course the one food my one year old won't touch! This looks great- thanks.

rainbowmummy | 9:49 AM

I love broccoli cooked any way.

Roasted in a very hot oven with a little oil is really good. It goes lovely and crispy (can use sesame oil and sesame seeds, yum!)

I like to finely chop the stem and use it in a risotto.

Over the Rainbow | 10:24 AM

I like broccoli even in its undisguised state, but my FAVORITE way to eat it is to roast it with a little olive oil, salt, & pepper. Sometimes I sprinkle in pine nuts or romano cheese at the end. It's nutty and delicious.

Anonymous | 1:07 PM

Ditto on the Roasting of broccoli. Adding lemon zest and some pine nuts...I think its the Ina Garten recipe. its like Veggie Candy, I swear.

Anonymous | 1:09 PM

And to those of you who do know about the Roasted Broccoli secret....I wanted to share that it works on Frozen broccoli too!!! Its a little softer, but the roasted taste is still there. You'll just have to roast it a little longer to cook out the moisture. I was very stoked to find out frozen works too. :)

jif | 1:18 PM

Wendy - these look great. I too am a huuuge fan of roasted broccoli. The following recipe is AHHHH-mazing (Food 52 in general is fantastic) http://www.food52.com/recipes/2678_roasted_bagna_cauda_broccoli - it will change the way you see broccoli forever!

Anonymous | 4:39 PM

Yay!! Eat Well is back! Wendy, I <3 your recipes, and my husband loves eating them for dinner.

Personally, I love broccoli, and that garlic + parmesan recipe sounds amazing!

BTW, have you tried sauteing arugula? I was just eating it raw, but saw it sauteed with just a bit of garlic, lemon juice, and salt and pepper. It was like spinach died and went to heaven!

Melanie | 9:12 PM

I used to hate broccoli and then I discovered roasted broccoli and it completely changed my mind. SO good!!

Serenity Now | 9:42 PM

Two words - Hollandaise Sauce. Drizzle that over some steamed broccoli, Yum.
Also - we make a broccoli/mushroom toss with pasta...steam the veggies, add to cooked pasta - add butter, tons of lemon juice, parmesan and salt/pepper to taste.
I also remember my mom making a broccoli/chicken bake. It had a can of cream of mushroom soup mixed with a cup of mayo and curry powder mixed together..bake it all like a casserole. She swears I ate my weight in broccoli when she made it like that.

jessica | 11:50 AM

We sing chopping broccoli in my house ALL THE TIME!!!!!!!!!!! hahahahha!! so hilarious- glad we're not the only ones!

LoloMyDear | 6:28 AM

I made the soup and it was delicious (so I blogged about it: http://lodear.wordpress.com/2012/01/19/the-dreaded-broccoli/). Thanks for the recipe!

carrie faye | 9:27 PM

just had to share - we made the soup tonight and it was a total hit! so much so that i went ahead and stored my portion for tomorrow in a separate container to assure i'd have some left! thanks so much for sharing your recipes, they're a great addition to an already fab blog! <3

Wendy Woolf | 10:15 PM

Carrie Faye and Lolo my dear...so glad you liked the recipe!