Get ready to join the ranks of savvy home cooks who know to save their broccoli stalks in the freezer to make broccoli stalk soup.
When you buy a head of broccoli how much of it would you guess you throw away? If you aren’t saving those precious broccoli stalks, your broccoli is not doing nearly enough for you. (“Ask not what you can do for your broccoli stalks, but what your broccoli stalks can do for you…” or something like that.)
More than that, every time you throw out those broccoli stalks, you’re basically throwing out money. So let’s stretch that dollar a little further, shall we?
As you may have heard me mention on Instagram, we freeze all our broccoli stems and scraps for broccoli stalk soup. I’ve been promising to share the recipe and, hooray for you, it’s finally here.
Whether you’re slurping it out of an oversized mug in your PJs on the couch or serving it up in porcelain ramekins as a fancy appetizer — broccoli stalk soup is only as fancy as the dish you serve it in.
Dress it up properly and no one will ever guess you made it out of leftovers.
broccoli stalk soup toppings are key
First, a quick confession: Between broccoli and cauliflower, when it comes to a side dish, I’m a broccoli gal all the way. But when it comes to soup, cauliflower is my jam.
But I hate wasting food and steamed broccoli is one of our go-to veggie side dishes, so broccoli soup has become a regular part of my eating experience. Since I don’t believe in eating things I don’t love, my approach to broccoli soup is to keep the soup itself simple — a blend of frozen broccoli stalks and chicken or veggie broth, with some farro to give it some bite — so that I can go all in making crispy, crunchy, tasty toppings.
Roasted broccoli bits are a given, but a drizzle of lemon-yogurt sauce, crispy fried shallots, and crumbled bacon truly send it over the top.
Okay, fine, in many ways the broccoli soup is just a vehicle for eating what are essentially lil baby onion rings and bacon for dinner. No shame in that.
The roasted broccoli bits add complexity to the broccoli flavor. The bacon bits and crispy shallots add much needed crunch and saltiness, and the lemon sour cream drizzle adds a cool citrusy ribbon that contrasts nicely with the richness of the soup.
And if you’re worried that this sounds like a lot of extra steps, fear not. The shallots fry in the leftover bacon oil, and the lemon yogurt sauce is just three ingredients (and one of them is salt).
a few quick notes
- If you’re picky about getting a silky smooth soup, you’ll want a pretty powerful blender for this.
- Don’t waste your bacon: We usually have a package of bacon in our fridge, so it’s nbd to just grab one or two strips to fry up. If you don’t usually have bacon in your fridge, hit up the meat counter at your grocery store and ask for just two slices of bacon.
- Spice it up: Add a pinch of crushed red pepper flakes to the broccoli and broth in the blender.
- Prep ahead: You can make the bacon bits and lemon drizzle up to 3 days in advance and store them in the fridge.
- Frozen Broccoli Stockpile: Whenever you cook anything that calls for broccoli florets, cut the stalks into 1″ slices and store them in a bag in your freezer. When you have 1 or 2 quarts of frozen broccoli stalks (easy to tell if you use quart-sized freezer bags) you’re ready to make broccoli soup. You’ll need to buy one additional crown of fresh broccoli, at which point you can start a new bag of broccoli stalks in the freezer. It’s truly a cycle!
- Using Fresh Broccoli: You’ll need to buy a medium sized bunch of broccoli and remove all the florets as close to the buds as possible. Simply use the stalks as the recipe calls for. You’ll use some of the florets to make the crunchy roasted broccoli topping, but you’re on your own for what you decide to do with the rest.
other recipes you might like
- cumin roasted broccolini with lemon-yogurt sauce
- chicken with angel hair pasta
- paprika pork tenderloin with roasted potatoes and carrots
- breadcrumb crusted tuna cakes with lemon-dill aioli
broccoli stalk soup
for the soup
- 4 cups broccoli stalks (fresh or frozen, sliced into 1" pieces)
- 1 small crown of fresh broccoli
- 1 TBSP olive oil
- 1 medium onion (diced)
- 1 quart vegetable stock (or chicken stock)
- 1 stalk celery (chopped)
- 2 cloves garlic (minced)
- ¼ cup farro (or arborio rice)
- ½ cup heavy cream (or half-and-half or coconut milk)
- salt and pepper
crispy shallots & bacon topping
- 2 slices bacon
- ½ large shallot (thinly sliced, rings separated)
- 2 TBSP flour
- salt and pepper
lemon yogurt drizzle
- ½ cup whole fat plain greek yogurt (or sour cream)
- juice and zest from ½ a lemon
- 1 pinch salt
- Preheat oven to 400°F and arrange one of the oven racks so it’s on the topmost setting and ready to go for the roasted broccoli topping.
- Remove the buds from one crown of fresh broccoli. We’re not talking whole florets here — get as close to the dark green buds as you can, leaving just the most delicate stems attached to them. Set the buds aside and chop the remaining stalk into 1/4″ slices.
- Heat oil in a medium sized pot over medium heat. When oil is shiny, add onion and celery and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute more, stirring occasionally.
- Add sliced fresh broccoli stalks and any frozen broccoli stalks, along with the vegetable stock. The liquid should just barely cover the broccoli. If it doesn’t, add more stock (or water) until it does. Bring to a boil and cook for 10 minutes, adjusting heat so that it doesn’t boil over.
- Use a wire spider (or slotted spoon) to transfer the cooked broccoli and onions from the pot to your blender, along with 3 cups of the cooking liquid from the pot. ***Save the rest of the cooking liquid in the pot in case you need to adjust the consistency of your soup in the next step.***
- Blend on high until smooth. It should have the consistency of cream — if it feels too thick or chunky, add more cooking liquid 1/4 cup at a time, blending between additions, until you reach your desired consistency.
- Okay, now you can pour out the remaining cooking liquid from the pot. Transfer the broccoli mixture from the blender back into the pot over low heat, and stir in the cream, farro, salt, and a few grinds of pepper and let cook for 15-20 minutes.
- Make your roasted broccoli topping: Toss the reserved broccoli buds from step one on a sheet pan with a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Roast on the top rack of a 400°F oven for 5-7 minutes until bright/dark green and lightly charred.
- Make your bacon and shallot topping: Cook slices of bacon over medium heat in a non-stick pan until crispy. Remove from pan and let cool on a paper towel. Crumble cooled bacon into pieces.In a small bowl combine flour and salt. Toss shallot rings in the flour until lightly coated.Fry the shallots in the leftover bacon fat over medium heat until crispy and light golden brown. Remove from pan to a paper towel to cool.
- Make the lemon yogurt drizzle: Mix ½ cup yogurt with lemon zest and juice. The sauce should be fairly thin — more like a heavy cream than a yogurt — so add more lemon juice if it seems too thick to drizzle. Add salt to taste.
- Stir half of the roasted broccoli buds into the soup. Taste, and adjust salt and pepper as needed. Spoon the soup into bowls and top with remaining roasted broccoli bits, fried shallots, bacon bits, and a drizzle of lemon yogurt sauce.
- This recipe is very forgiving — if you have more broccoli stalks or fewer broccoli stalks, simply adjust the amount of cooking liquid you add to the blender as needed. You can also add broccoli florets to the mixture, though it’s harder to get a very creamy soup that way.
- To cut the buds off a head of broccoli, start by removing the stalk before working your way up toward the buds. First, remove the main stalk, breaking the crown into several pieces, then remove the stalk from each of those pieces breaking them into several pieces. Keep repeating with each piece, always cutting above the stem where the florets are connected. The pieces you’re working with will get smaller and smaller, but the process remains the same — keep cutting the new pieces where they’re joined at the stem until you have lots of tiny florets made up of buds.
- I photographed this soup in Le Creuset mini cocottes in the color fig which you can buy here.