CREAMY BROCCOLI CHEDDAR SOUP WITH CHEDDAR CROUTONS
2 tablespoons butter
1 medium onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
2-pounds broccoli heads, florets chopped off and stems cut into 2” pieces
2 cups shredded carrots (about 4 carrots)
5 cups chicken stock
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
2 cups heavy cream
¼ cup milk
2 tablespoons corn starch
3 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1 small baguette, chopped into ½” chunks (about 6 cups)
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon garlic powder
¼ cup flat leaf parsley, chopped
¼ cup olive oil
½ cup shredded cheddar cheese
Melt the butter in a large Dutch oven or soup pot over medium heat. Sauté the onions and garlic until soft and fragrant. Add the chopped broccoli, shredded carrots, salt and pepper to the pot and cover with the chicken stock. Stir and press the vegetables down so they are mostly covered with the stock. Bring to a boil, cover, and reduce to a simmer. Cook for 30-40 minutes until the broccoli stems are very tender when pierced with a fork.
While the soup cooks, make the croutons. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place bread cubes on a foil lined cookie sheet. Top evenly with salt, pepper, garlic powder, parsley, olive oil, and cheese. Toss all of the ingredients together, massaging with your hands to evenly incorporate. Bake for 15-20 minutes until bread is golden brown and toasty. Remove and set aside.
When the broccoli is fork tender, add the heavy cream and bring back to a boil, reduce heat to low, and cook for 10-15 minutes more.
Remove about 2 cups of the cooked florets from the soup and set aside. Using an immersion blender or traditional blender process the remaining soup until almost smooth (If using a traditional blender, take care processing the hot soup on pulse or it will explode in the blender!). Return blended soup and reserved broccoli pieces to the pot and bring back to a low boil.
Combine the milk and cornstarch in a small bowl and whisk until cornstarch is dissolved. Add to the soup and stir until soup is thickened. Gradually add the cheddar cheese, stirring until melted after each addition. Serve hot soup with cheddar croutons on top.