Broccoli & Cheddar Soup

SOMETIMES, you just need a big bowl of soup to warm you up, comfort you or hydrate you. In winter, I find myself wanting soup very often and I have a few tried and trusted recipes which are always satisfying. My mum makes an infamous and totally delicious potato and leek soup but no matter what, it never tastes as good when I make it! We all have those family recipes that never taste quite as good when we replicate it. I think this might be my soup although I can't take all the credit; I was inspired to make it after tasting the flavour combination at Dannyboy's

Yesterday was a cold and rainy one so I dug through the 'Recipe Ideas' folder in my mind and plucked this one out. It seemed to be filed at the front and I am so glad because, just quietly, it is scrumptious! The broccoli takes on a whole new, subtle flavour and the dish is very balanced. The cheddar just gives it a bit of bite but it is not too rich or overpowering. The tiny broccoli leaves which dot the soup are a fun textural component to such a smooth, creamy soup. It is definitely a new favourite which will be keeping me healthy and hydrated this winter!

What you'll need:
250g broccoli, broken apart into little trees
200g sharp cheddar, grated
1 brown onion, diced
2 cloves of garlic, chopped finely
1/4 cup butter 
1/4 cup flour
1L chicken stock
1 cup cream
1 cup milk
Olive oil
Salt and pepper
Ciabatta or a baguette, sliced and toasted

What to do:
Heat some olive oil in a medium-sized saucepan and fry the onion and garlic. Add the butter and flour, whisking until you have a glossy mixture. Continue to whisk as you add all of the stock.

Add the broccoli and let it simmer for 25-30 minutes, stirring every now and then, until a knife can glide through a broccoli stalk. Once cooked, blend the mixture. I used a stick blender but you can use a normal one - just take care when spooning the hot mixture into the blender's jug. If you're having bread with the soup, stick it under the grill now... and try not to forget it! (It happens a little more than I'd like to admit!)

Once blended, return to the stove over medium heat and add the milk and cream. Sprinkle in the cheese and stir in a figure eight motion until the cheese has melted and the soup is steaming hot. Season with salt and pepper. Rescue your bread from the oven when it's crunchy.

Serve hot with a drizzle of olive oil and some toast. Enjoy!