For me, this soup is just a big hug in a bowl. It's deliciously warming, perfect for lunch or chilly evenings and ready in just 30 minutes. Using the stalks of the broccoli makes the soup quite thick, so you may want to add a little more milk to suit your tastes.
Pick a good melting cheese, a strong cheddar is always a good choice. Grating cheese can seem like a chore but it makes a small amount of cheese look like loads. Don't even think about buying pre-grated cheese, freshly grated cheese has a fuller flavor and won't be at all dry.
Cheese & Broccoli Soup
4 tbsp butter, divided into halves
1/2 onion, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
1 head of broccoli broken into small florets and any stalks reserved
1/2 a medium heat green chilli (optional)
1 1/2 ltres of chicken or vegetable broth
1 tbsp flour
1 tsp mustard powder
200ml milk (any kind)
1 - 2 oz mature cheese grated
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
In a large saucepan and over medium heat, melt half the butter (2 tbsp), add to this the onion and chilli and sauté until tender, about 7 minutes. Stir in the stock, carrots and broccoli stalks. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer. When the vegetables are totally softened, blitz with a handheld blender or in a liquidiser and return to the saucepan.
Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, melt the remaining butter. Add the flour and mustard powder and cook for a minute stirring constantly. Stir in the milk and cook until the mixture thickens and bubbles, whisking all the while, about 3-5 minutes.
Once the mixture has thickened, remove the saucepan from the heat and stir in most of the cheese until melted. Slowly pour the cheese sauce into the soup pot and stir to combine the two mixtures and add in the remaining broccoli florets. Bring back to the boil and allow to simmer until the broccoli is tender. Taste and season with salt and freshly ground pepper. Scatter the remaining cheese on top with a little extra grind of black pepper and serve with some lovely crusty bread or some wholemeal scones if you are so inclined.