In the Expat-flat we celebrated St. Patrick's Day quietly with an old friend and a new movie (Lost in Translation). In honor of the day, I made one of my favourite soups, which happens to be green. Sadly, it was only after the fact that I realized that a green soup made with English cheese was perhaps not the most tactful of tributes. Never mind, we'll pretend I used Cashel Blue instead of Stilton. (As an aside, did you know there are NO cheese shops in Stilton, England? How disappointing is that for a food pilgrim?)
Broccoli and Stilton Soup (serves 4-6)
3-4 medium broccoli heads
4 cups chicken broth
6-8 sage leaves
2-3 cups cheese (Stilton, Cashel Blue, you can also add some cheddar and it's very nice)
1/2 cup milk
3 Tbs/50g butter
A little grated Parmesan as garnish
Roughly chop the onions and set them to soften on a medium heat with the butter in a large saucepan. While the onions are cooking, wash the broccoli heads and cut off the florets. Peel the thich stem by cutting into the end of the stalk and pulling down. I cut off the irritating smaller branches rather than peeling them too, but it depends on how conscientious you want to be. (It helps if you have a wormery like me - what isn't food for us is food for the little wriggling ones.) Chop the peeled stems and add them, with the florets to the saucepan. Add the broth, turn up the heat and cover. (You can substitute the water from cooking other vegetables or wine or even just plain water for the broth if you like. Last night, I used half broth and half water from boiling potatoes.)
Once the broccoli has turned bright green and is soft, remove the pan from the heat. At this point you can either use an immersion blender to blend the soup or remove it to a food processor for blending. The former will probably leave a few chunks in your soup but is less hassle to clean afterwards.
Return the filled saucepan to the heat. While it is reheating, break the Stilton or Cashel Blue in small pieces and chop the sage leaves. Add them gradually to the soup, stirring as you go to melt them. Add the milk and taste for salt and pepper.
It's a really lovely soup, full of flavour. It reminds me of the broccoli-with-cheese that was so popular when I was younger, except that the cheese is integrated with the broccoli and thus doesn't fall off onto your plate. This is a much more elegant way to pair the two!
We also had a roast beef and potatoes (very Irish) and to finish it off, a glass of Irish Whiskey (in a Waterford glass of course!).
A note on the photo: after reading Clotilde's recipe for Mimolette and Broccoli soup, I decided to follow her lead and include the leaves in my soup as well as the florets and stem. I saved a few of the leaves from the blender to make a prettier presentation!