I have a long standing love affair with English white cheddar. There was this one November, many moons ago, when I first hopped the pond to visit my sister in London as she was wrapping up her senior year of college. During the day, my sis frantically worked finishing her term paper, and I bumbled around London, marveling at the architecture, soaking up the history and revelling in the novelty of traveling alone for the first time. Later, we would hang out in her tiny kitchen, visiting late into the night over good English cheddar and cheap red wine. It was positively glorious. And every single time I bite into a good white cheddar, I grin. Therefore, I am incredibly pleased to announce I have a found another use for white cheddar cheese other than to simply keep my Sav Blanc company. Spoiler Alert- it’s this Spicy Broccoli Cheddar Soup!
I have heart eyes for broccoli cheddar soup. However, it’s darn challenging to find a good one. Too bland, overcooked broccoli, so thick the spoon stands up. So much heavy cream that you are miserable afterwards. Choose your ailment- most broccoli cheddar soups suffer from at least one.
This version is more brothy than creamy. It’s lightened up, but full of big, bold flavors. We use more stock than milk and zero heavy cream. There’s a little booze to add oomph and a little cayenne to keep things interesting. I went back for “one more taste” so many times while recipe testing that I skipped lunch. It’s that good. And thank heaven, soup season is upon us. Well, it’s upon most of the Northern Hemisphere. Texas is impatiently watching the sky, tapping its foot, staring down the calendar waiting for cooler temps.
Without further ado, let’s make soup! This is another of those soups that develops great flavor in under an hour. I need so many more of these. With two littles in tow now, I take as many cooking shortcuts as humanly possible. There is no way I can assemble a gourmet meal every night anymore from scratch. But I also don’t want to feed my family takeout or hamburger helper. So, these shortcuts make legit, good food much more attainable.
So let’s talk about saving time. I buy pre-chopped onion AND pre-chopped broccoli- that saves me at least 10 minutes. Twenty if I’m chopping whilst wrangling said children. Also, I will be purchasing the good white English cheddar from the deli that is already cubed, thank you very much. Yes, it costs $1.50 more, but I consider it money well spent. And while I’m at it, I’m tossing the pre-peeled garlic in my cart. If you have more time than I do and you find chopping therapeutic, feel free to procure your produce in its original form. But if you need/want them, these shortcuts will take your prep time down to about three minutes. You’re welcome.
This Spicy Broccoli Cheddar soup is super easy to modify for your family’s tastes or what you can find at your local grocery store. If white cheddar is hard to come by, feel free to use regular sharp cheddar. It really does need to a be sharp cheddar though or the big cheesy flavor just won’t be there. And if you can buy it pre-shredded or cubed, bonus points! You can sub 1/2 of a jalapeño for the serrano or leave it out entirely-up to you. The cayenne doesn’t make it too spicy, but the serrano can as they vary in heat level.
You can also omit the wine if that’s not your thing, but I assure you, all the alcohol cooks out and it does add a lovely layer of flavor. For a creamier soup, add more cheese and/or sub one cup of heavy cream or half and half for one cup of the milk.
This recipe was inspired by one over at Gimme Some Oven. We add booze and spice to ours. I also leave out the carrots. Carrots do not scream Broccoli Cheddar soup to me. But feel free to add them if you have some extra chopping time and want extra veggies in your life.
IMPORTANT TIP: Get everything ready to go before you start cooking. When you get to the step where you add in a bit of flour, if you don’t have your liquids ready to go, you will risk scorching your soup. Nobody wants that for you.
If you are on the hunt for more quick and easy soups check out our Easy Leek Soup, or the Roast Carrot and Fennel Soup. Both are super easy weeknight options.
As always, thank you for being here. I really, really like you people. Happy Cooking!