Recently our women’s ministry had a luncheon kickoff to launch the newest bible study. Our church is so awesome that it catered Panera. YUMMMM! How lucky was I that day!! A great new bible study surrounded by women I adore, praising Jesus and stuffing my face with all kinda of Panera deliciousness. Happy girl right here!
If you didn’t catch it in the first paragraph: I-LOVE-PANERA! From the first time I walked in and dipped that baguette into a bowl of broccoli cheese soup, I was hooked. Although I have made my own broccoli soup many times with a flour base, it never crossed my mind that there was flour in this soup until my friend Alicia pointed it out. Apparently, I lose my cognitive abilities to think rationally when a spread of Panera’s finest is placed in front of me. While flour isn’t a huge issue for me, sadly, she is gluten intolerant and was unable to partake in our post-church feast that day. She did find a good alternative, but I still thought it was a bummer she couldn’t have most of what was catered. Especially when her super supportive friend was sitting in the next chair having a gluten fest. Slurping flour laden soup in between bites of chocolate chunk cookies next to my gluten intolerant friend probably isn’t my proudest moment.
Prior to this, I had been toying with an idea of making a more nutrient dense broccoli soup with the overabundance of little green trees that I was getting in my weekly produce delivery. It wasn’t until that day that I decided, go for it. Maybe I could create a little piece of Panera that my friend could enjoy minus the gluten that was full of veggies and flavor? Making broccoli soup is not a new process for me. The way I was taught leads to a tasty result. A real “go-to” in the comfort food department. However, the original recipe is comprised primarily of dairy and flour. And the specks of green from the scant amount of broccoli used really doesn’t add much to it in the vitamin department. I wanted something that had the flavor and creaminess of the original, but with way more to offer our bodies nutritionally. Enter a soup that is so awesome, you can’t tell that it’s missing the bad stuff. Instead of a flour roux, this soup has a creamy cauliflower base with only a splash of cream for flavor. A touch of leeks and garlic round it off with a nice savory finish. I actually prefer this recipe to the old one because it eliminates the need to worry about lumps, burning flour or scalding milk.
Creamy. Flavorful. Nutrient Dense. Gluten Free. Delicious.
Oh Panera, I might not need your broccoli soup anymore. But I do still love you. And your chocolate chip cookies. Darn those cookies! That might have to be my next project…
SEASONAL NUTRITIONAL HIGHLIGHT – BROCCOLI AND LEEKS
Late winter and early spring bring an abundance of broccoli and leeks. I really like broccoli for it’s versatility to take on different flavors depending on how it is prepared. Adding this to a dish can provide fiber, folate, vitamins A, C and K as well as antioxidants such as lutein and zeaxanthin. It also contains phytochemical to help prevent certain cancers. Leeks, an allium vegetable, belong to the same family as onions and garlic. I find them to be milder than onions and can be paired well with most other savory ingredients in the place of an onion. The only downside to leeks is that they do contain oxalates, so people who are more prone to chronic kidney or gallbladder stones should probably avoid eating large amounts. Leeks have a high amount of folate, which can be beneficial to heart health by keeping our levels of homocysteine in balance as well as a flavonoid called kaempferol that helps to protect the blood vessel linings. Try replacing an onion with a leek in your next recipe to help get all the great benefits of seasonal produce.
Until next time…Happy Eating!
Creamy Broccoli Cheese Soup
- 1 head cauliflower roughly chopped
- 1 head broccoli roughly chopped
- 1 leek diced
- 1 garlic clove minced
- 1 tbsp grass fed butter I use Kerrygold
- 1 cup grass fed cheddar I use Kerrygold, shredded
- 1/4 cup organic heavy whipping cream
- 2 tbsp himalayan pink salt
- 2 cups cooking water
- Fresh cracked pepper and hemp seeds to garnish
Place cauliflower in a medium saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil, then add broccoli. Boil for 20 min or until cauliflower is tender. Reserve 2 cups cooking water, drain and set aside.
Heat butter in a saucepan and sauté leek and garlic until tender, about 3 minutes. Add all ingredients to a food processor, except 2 cups water. Covering hole with paper towel to vent any steam. Puree until smooth. Add mixture back to saucepan and whisk in 2 cups water. Heat through and serve topped with fresh cracked pepper and hemp seeds