Broccoli and bacon together in a tri-blend cheese soup – how good is that? We think even Ina Garten would love this soup. We know that you will. It is rich, thick, creamy, and very filling. A low-carb treat on a cold winter evening and a perfect appetizer or side dish; the flavor is strong and tasty! Tonight we decided soup would actually be our main course and we did not come away from the table the least bit hungry with this creation.
Broccoli has been touted as one of the healthiest vegetables in the world. If you are trying to eat healthier and low-carb then broccoli should be at the top of your grocery list. Studies suggest that eating foods like broccoli can decrease the risk of obesity, diabetes and heart disease. It has also been reported that this wonder vegetable may also lower the risk of cancer; particularly lung and colon cancer. Broccoli contains sulforaphane which may make its taste somewhat bitter, but it is also what gives broccoli its cancer-fighting power. Sulforaphane is now being studied for its ability to delay or impede cancer with promising results in melanoma, prostate, and even pancreatic cancers. Broccoli also contains folate which has been shown to decrease the risk of breast cancer in women.
Healthy and low-carb – what could be better?
Before getting into the specifics of our tasty Broccoli Bacon Cheese Soup, let’s give a general tip on how to prepare broccoli – steam it! If you blanch or cook broccoli in boiling water you will remove much of the beneficial sulforphane. For that reason alone we urge you to steam your broccoli; it also just tastes better steamed. We have a steamer insert that fits into a three-quart stainless sauce pan. Just a little water in the bottom is sufficient to steam perfect broccoli in a matter of minutes. You know when it is done when it turns a deep rich green color. You can also pop one in your mouth to check the crunch – it should be “al dente” for most recipes.
Many people serve broccoli as a side dish with a cheddar cheese sauce on top or simply with melted butter. It is delicious this way, but we like the cheddar cheese mixed with other cheeses in a delicious soup.
The Stars of Our Soup
Of course, broccoli has the main role in this recipe; however, our second key ingredient is bacon, and even more importantly – bacon fat. The recipe calls for eight slices of cooked bacon, chopped and added at the end of the cooking process. One chopped bacon slice should be used for a garnish. We cook our shallot and garlic in a mixture of bacon fat and butter so do not discard the bacon fat. It is flavorful, low-carb, and adds the right smoky touch to the soup.
Chicken broth (either make your own or use organic) and heavy cream are the liquid ingredients for the soup and blend together well. Some recipes also add chicken pieces to their broccoli soup, but we prefer a rich blend of melted cheeses. We have also seen recipes calling for cream cheese as a thickening ingredient and this can be substituted but it does not add quite the flavor of a three-cheese blend. To stay low-carb, avoid using flour and butter to form a roux. The heavy cream and cheese blend will thicken the soup substantially. If it is too thick, just add more chicken stock at any time.
Our cheeses of choice are cheddar, Colby jack, and parmesan. Cheddar is the main cheese with parmesan in a smaller quanitity to add that nutty flavor. They all melt well and combine perfectly. Feel free to experiment with a cheese of your choice or with what is available in your area or country. We also add a little Sriracha or hot sauce to give the soup a bit more zip. You can substitute red pepper flakes if you prefer. We add this with our sea salt and pepper so we can taste the soup and adjust accordingly.
We use a handy “emersion blender” to break down the broccoli at the end of the cooking process. If you do not have one of these handy gadgets then let your soup cool and use a blender to break down the cooked broccoli florets and to thicken your soup. The soup can then be brought up to a high heat again for serving. We reserve not only a strip of chopped bacon but also some of the smaller cooked broccoli florets for presentation.
The rich color of the cheddar and the deep green of the cooked broccoli join together to present a muted yellowish color. Your soup should be thick and creamy and oh, so delicious! Although we each had a large bowl for supper, as a side dish, we recommend a small cup. Remember, this soup is very rich and decadent. It is a perfect complement to any meat and will also impress your family or guests at your next dinner party . . . especially those who are low-carb foodies!
- 4 cups broccoli florets (steamed)
- 8 slices bacon (chopped)
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 1 shallot (chopped)
- 4 cloves garlic (chopped)
- 2 1/2 cups chicken stock
- 1 3/4 cups heavy cream
- 1 1/2 cups cheddar cheese (grated)
- 1 cup Colby jack cheese (grated)
- 1/2 cup parmesan cheese (grated)
- 1 teaspoon Sriracha sauce
- sea salt
- Steam broccoli florets until dark green, but still crunchy - set aside.
- Cook bacon slices in a large pot (6 quart) on medium heat until crisp. Drain on paper towels. When cool chop into small half inch pieces - saving some for garnish.
- Melt the butter in the bacon fat. Add the chopped shallot and cook for 2 minutes. Then cook the chopped garlic for an additional 2 minutes.
- Add the chicken broth and the heavy cream and cook for 3 minutes while stirring.
- Turn heat to medium-low and blend in the cheeses. Cook until melted and bubbly, about 5 minutes.
- Add the steamed broccoli (reserve some for garnish), bacon bits, Sriracha, and sea salt and pepper. Cook for 2 minutes and adjust to taste. Cook for an additional 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Use an emersion blender or food processor until smooth and thick. Garnish and serve.