Thursday, May 26, 2011

Broccoli Spinach Soup au Pistou

This is a great lunch soup, hot or cold, that travels well in a thermos to the office or hiking trail.  Also serve it to yourself as a late afternoon pick-me-up when dinner feels a little too far off.

Low calorie versions of broccoli-cheese soup often use processed ingredients.  This version adds baby spinach to create a velvet texture and a flavorful bright green tint.  Parmesan cheese and basil stand in for the heavier cheeses and add a love hint of summer flavor.  Pistou normally includes a bit of olive oil with the cheese and basil but the soup is rich enough without it.  Pistou is like pesto but without the pine nuts.  A tablespoon of pistou, made from basil and Parmesan cheese incorporated into a bit of olive oil is used throughout the south of France to step up the flavor of soups and stews.  The combination livens up this simple broccoli and spinach soup and make it satisfying hot or chilled.

Broccoli-Spinach Soup “au Pistou”
4 servings
3 cups roughly chopped broccoli (including peeled stems)
3 cups chicken broth
1/2-1 cup water
3 cups loosely packed baby spinach (half of 9-oz bag)
2 T chopped fresh basil
1 tablespoon freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper

  1. In a large saucepan over high heat, bring chopped broccoli to a boil in chicken broth and water.  (Add enough water so that broccoli is covered.)  
  2. Turn heat to medium, cover and cook broccoli until quite tender, about 20-25 minutes.  
  3. Remove cover and add spinach.  With a large spoon, stir spinach into hot broth until it wilts. Remove soup from heat.  Add basil and cheese.  
  4. Use a immersion blender to puree vegetables in broth.  There should be no lumps.  (Or allow soup to cool for half an hour and puree in a regular blender.) 
  5. Add salt and pepper to taste.  
Serve hot or chilled.  You might like a shot of skim or whole milk in the soup if serving hot.  If eating cold, serve with a dollop of sour cream or Greek-style plain yogurt.

Immersion blenders allow you to puree soups right in the cooking pot.