Chunky broccoli and Stilton soup with homemade vegetable stock is fabulous comfort food. Make sure you drop a couple of capers into it for an unexpected flavour and texture enhancement.
On Fridays by default we don't cook. I can't remember how it came about: possibly going back to when we both used to go out to work and come back late in the evenings.
Most weekdays we'd scrape together home cooked dinner as we have always been principled.
But on Fridays it has ever been chill out time, takeaway or, more often, foraging in the fridge for a minimalist meal. For The Weather Man it frequently means a treat of takeaway fish and chips, for me - opening a can of soup.
The trouble is, he doesn't like soup. It's the texture, he says (I know: wtf?). It’s wrong to drink soup out of a cup and you can't stab it with a fork (ditto).
So be it: life full of soup cans stretched ahead of me unbeknownst when I tied my fate to his, because cooking soup for one is worse than drinking alone.
Cooking soup for one
But sometimes a solitary glass of wine is very much on order and likewise I do get an urge to chop up leeks and spuds, and grab a stock cube out of the back of the cupboard. Then naturally freeze pots and pots of it.
Theoretically it’s possible to cook just a bowlful of soup but in practice: does a whole leek go into one portion of leek and potato soup? How many tomatoes for a cupful? And how on earth will you make chicken soup for one - with a single chicken wing?
No, it’s not practical at all. Freezing is the answer.
I don’t mind repeats as long as the soup is nice and not blended. Blended soup is my pet hate, worse than mushy peas or smoothies. Baby food gloop with no texture, so The Weather Man might have been onto something after all.
This soup, admittedly, is smashed a bit but only to give it more colour: broccoli florets swimming about in grey broth are not a good picture.
But I never use blender which only makes soup go cold by the time you're done. A potato masher is a great tool for chunkily crushing, and I also use it for tomato sauce that way.
I cooked an awful lot of soups when my daughter was little as that was practically the only food she would eat. And you know what? I never, ever used stock cubes.
I do these days, probably because I’m not an organic, obsessed (and organic-obsessed) new mother. But to be honest, it doesn’t take long to make simple vegetable stock and it’s a heaven better than all the bouillons you can buy.
All it takes is a couple of carrots, a parsnip, an onion, half a leek (or even just the green parts that you usually discard) and a few sprigs of parsley, or lovage if you can get it.
Don’t even peel them, just scrub well, chop roughly and cook for 15 minutes or longer.
And if you want to make chicken stock, add to the mix a few wing tips, a carcass (that most butchers give away for free) or a drumstick or two.
How to make broccoli Stilton soup
With that gorgeous stock, you can’t go wrong. Reserve a few small broccoli florets for garnish and chop the rest roughly, especially the stem. That’s another point in frugality: how often do you throw away the whole broccoli stem? Exactly.
Cook the broccoli chunks with butter until tender or even caramelised a little. You can start adding stock when it threatens to catch to the bottom.
When completely soft, mash the lot with a potato ricer and add most of the cheese. Once it melts, top up with remaining stock, taste for seasoning and adjust with salt and pepper.
Add the reserved florets and let them barely blanch: they should hold a bite.
When serving, crumble extra Stilton into the bowls and drop in a caper or two in each.
More soup recipes
Simple potato soup with mushroom flavour is as warming and comforting as easy it is to make. Chunky, waxy potatoes, carrot and celery in a fragrant, clear broth flavoured with wild mushrooms – gorgeous.
Chunky leek and potato soup recipe. This leek and potato soup is not blended and it has only a couple spoonfuls of cream, but still tastes gorgeously rich.
French onion soup recipe, so versatile: it can be made with white or red onions. It's vegetarian or not depending on what type of stock you use. But either way, lovely and comforting.
More broccoli recipes
An easy broccoli cheese bake, sharpened up with garlic and anchovies. Broccoli cheese, similarly to cauliflower cheese, is a gratin of the vegetable baked in a creamy mornay sauce, classic comfort food.
Raw broccoli salad with fragrant Asian dressing. NY Times inspired salad of fresh raw broccoli marinated in garlic and sesame dressing.
Broccoli frittata cooked in a cast iron pan can be finished off in the oven, where it’ll puff up and fluff up and turn cheesy-golden.