From Too Many Chefs -

March 18, 2004
St. Patrick's Day Soup?

green soup.jpg

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
2 onions
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!

Posted by Meg in Sussex at March 18, 2004 2:46 AM | TrackBack

I love blue cheese soups. I haven't seen much Cashel Blue here so when I try it I'll have to substitute - er, unsubstitute Stilton, which I happen to have in the fridge right now.

Posted by barrett on March 18, 2004 at 2:28 PM

I forgot to mention that you can't put too much cheese in a Broccoli and Stilton soup. (Wait, you can't put too MUCH or you CAN'T put too much...) There is no such thing as too much cheese. Or if there is, I haven't found it. St. Patrick's day was the first time I made it that my Critic didn't say "it was nice, but it could have used a little more cheese..."!

Posted by Meg in Paris on March 19, 2004 at 5:18 AM

That is delicious, to be sure. And you are right, you cannot use too much cheese. I think, for the Irish historically, it was an expensive delicacy and they tried to make up for it by developing recipes that were rich and smooth in other ways.

Posted by lazykitchenhand on March 19, 2004 at 5:25 AM

Yes, I think you are right about Irish cuisine historically - it's fairly simple and stodgy. However, these days it's much more sophisticated and there seems to be a big emphasis on local produce. I wanted to make salmon for a real Irish dinner, but unfortunately there are no fishmongers near my work and I needed to do the shopping at lunch time. So I settled for green soup!

Posted by Meg in Paris on March 19, 2004 at 5:56 AM

Hey! don't forget you'll need to invite an Irishman if you're having a "real" Irish dinner! (and that's a compliment from one who loves your cooking!)

Posted by Owen on April 13, 2004 at 7:06 AM

I've learned that if the broc.s are really fresh that using plain water not stock gives a lighter and crisper taste. Also I find that you can use to much cheese. Stilton is very strong and I feel it should balance the broc. not over whelm it.

Posted by Steven Smith on January 3, 2005 at 2:10 PM

i made this soup and everyone was saying theres too much cheese haha. i ate it and was a bit too strong but nice. how could you reduce the taste of the cheese afterwards if a bit too strong

Posted by debbie on June 20, 2009 at 2:51 PM

Debbie, there are several ways you could tone down the cheese flavor, though I wouldn't recommend doing all of them at once:

- use a milder cheese. A Stilton with lots of blue in it is stronger than one that is mostly white, usually

- reduce the amount of Stilton and replace some of it with a mild cheddar

- simply use less!

Actually, what I would recommend is starting with about half of the cheese called for in the recipe and then taste it. Then keep adding cheese until you feel it's just right! This is also a good strategy when you are making a spicy dish but don't want it TOO spicy. Just taste as you go - it's the most accurate way to tell how it's coming out!

Hope that helps!

Posted by Meg in Sussex on June 21, 2009 at 10:53 AM