I don't want to seem overdramatic, but this soup might just be the most delicious thing you will ever put in your mouth. For serious. I started out by roasting two butternut squash, a large onion, and baby carrots. When they finished roasting, I pureed them with carrot juice. Next, I whipped up a batch of bechamel, and melted shredded sharp cheddar and white American cheese into it. Then, the two worlds collided into one glorious pot. After I used a little salt, pepper, and cayenne to bring that beautiful soup to its flavor potential, I added blanched, chopped broccoli to finish it up.
What you once knew as broccoli and cheddar soup is no more. This is its evolution. The meaty, savory sweetness of roasted squash and carrot totally amps up the cheese flavor, making this the best cheese soup I ever had. When it was time to serve, I garnished it with shredded hard salami, and a few super thin slices of fresh tomato. The addition of these acidic garnishes balanced the soup perfectly, launching the whole thing out of Taste World and into the far reaches of Flavor Galaxy.
Here is how you make it.
Cheddar Carrot Chowder With Broccoli
Makes about 6 servings
- 2 butternut squash, halved and seeded
- 2 cups baby carrots, chopped
- 1 large onion, quartered and peeled
- 1 1/2 cups carrot juice
- 2 tbsp. butter
- 2 tbsp. flour
- 2 cups whole milk, warmed
- 2 cups shredded sharp cheddar
- 4 slices white american cheese
- 4 cups broccoli, blanched and chopped
- 2 tbsp. lemon juice
- 1 pinch cayenne pepper
- salt & pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Arrange the carrots, onions, and squash on a lined baking sheet and rub generously with oil. Sprinkle with salt & pepper, then roast for 45 minutes, or until the squash becomes fork tender. Stir the carrots and onions half way through roasting time. When the veggies have finished roasting, set them aside to cool.
To blanch the broccoli, add them to a pot of salted, boiling water. Cook them in the water for 3 - 5 minutes, just long enough for the broccoli to become tender. Once they are finished, strain them into a colander and immediately shock them with cold water. Set aside.
Once the veggies are cool enough to handle, peel the garlic and squash. The easiest way to peel the squash is to scoop it out of its skin with a spoon. Put the squash meat\, carrots and onions into a blender along with the carrot juice and puree until smooth.
In a large soup pot, melt butter over low heat. Add flour, and increase heat to medium. Whisk continuosly until flour has cooked. It's important not to overcook or undercook the roux. We are looking for a white roux in this recipe. If you have never made one before, check out this video:
Once the roux is cooked, slowly whisk in the warm milk. Add just a little at a time to avoid lumps. After you've added all the milk, continue stirring until the sauce reaches a simmer. Reduce the heat to low, and start mixing in the cheddar. Add just a little cheese at a time, waiting until each bit has melted before adding more. Next, stir in the white american cheese followed by the cayenne pepper. Taste the sauce, and add salt and black pepper to taste. These kinds of sauces often need a lot of salt, so don't be afraid to keep adding it, little by little, until you can really taste the cheese.
Now, combine the pureed vegetables with the cheese sauce in the soup pot. Stir them well to combine, and raise the heat to bring the soup back up to a simmer. When it is simmering, reduce the heat to Low, and taste for seasoning. Add any necessary salt and pepper, then stir in the lemon juice, and broccoli. Serve piping hot with or without a garnish. Croutons, corn nuts, bacon, or crackers are some classic ideas for garnishing a soup like this, but if you are a little more daring, use something acidic, like pickled jalapeno, pepperocini, or olives.