One of my favourite soups, amid strong seasonal competition, broccoli and stilton has the great benefit of being green enough to feel healthy and rich enough to satisfy, with or without a big slab of buttered bread on the side. It’s also a good home for all sorts of festive leftovers, not just blue cheese. Read on to find out more.
Prep 10 min
Cook 20 min
2 shallots, or 1 small onion
2 tbsp butter, or other fat
200g stilton, crumbled
1 Prep the vegetables
Peel and finely chop the shallots or onions (you could use leeks, spring or red onion here, if that’s all you have hanging around, but be aware that the latter will turn your soup a rather funny colour). Separate the broccoli stalk from the head, cut the stalk into smallish chunks and set aside the florets for now.
2 Substitutes and variations
If you have other vegetables that need using up, replace some of the broccoli: cooked leftover veg should be added just before pureeing, while raw stuff can go in either with the stalk or the florets in step 6, depending on how long it normally takes to cook.
Brussels sprouts, roast potatoes, squash, red cabbage and so on will all work, though the above cautionary note about colour applies here, too.
3 Fry the onions
Melt the butter in a large saucepan over a medium-low heat – if you happen to have goose or some other fat taking up space in the fridge, feel free to use that instead; or use oil, if you prefer. Fry the shallots gently, stirring regularly to make sure they don’t burn, until soft and translucent.
4 Add the broccoli stalk and stock
Add the chopped broccoli stalk to the pan, stir to coat with the butter, then fry for a minute or so.
Pour in the stock – usually, I like to use chicken or vegetable, but if you have ham cooking liquor or turkey gravy taking up space in the fridge, then pop that in along with enough water to make it up to 800ml.
5 Add the milk
Pour in the milk (again, if you’d like to use up some cream or creme fraiche, or even bread sauce, simply dilute it with enough milk or water to make it up to 600ml), and, still over a fairly low heat, gradually bring the pan to a simmer, taking care that it doesn’t boil.
6 Add the florets and cheese
Cook gently until the stalk is beginning to soften. Meanwhile, cut the head into individual florets and crumble the stilton (or other cheese of your choice), discarding any rind and setting aside a little to use as a garnish.
Once the stalk is almost tender, add these to the pan, cover and cook for about five minutes more, until the cheese has melted and the florets are soft.
7 Cool, then blend and season
Turn off the heat, leave the soup to cool slightly, whiz until fairly smooth using either a stick blender or food processor. Return to the pan and add a splash of milk or stock to thin, if necessary. Taste and adjust the seasoning to suit you; stilton is fairly salty already, but a good whack of ground nutmeg and black pepper wouldn’t go amiss.
8 Finishing touches
At this point, you could stir in some shredded ham or turkey, roughly chopped chestnuts or even chopped pigs in blankets – just heat them through in the hot soup before serving. Once the soup is ready, divide between bowls and top with the remaining crumbled cheese and a little more nutmeg. If you happen to have some chives to snip over the top, or a swirl of cream, they’d be very welcome, too.
9 Or serve with leftover toasts
To win big on leftovers bingo, cut thin slices of baguette or other bread, toast lightly, then spread with any soft cheese you might like to see the back of (chèvre, cream cheese or brie, say), plus a dollop of cranberry sauce and some black pepper. Grill until the topping bubbles, and serve alongside the soup.