Savvy home cooks 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.
Let’s talk broccoli stalk soup toppings
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. And 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).
- 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.
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Broccoli SoupDifficulty: Easy
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 freezer scraps.
- Broccoli soup
4 cups (1 quart) of broccoli stalks (fresh, frozen, or both) cut into 1″ slices.
1 small crown of fresh broccoli
1 TBSP oil
1 medium onion, diced
1 quart vegetable or chicken stock
1 stalk celery, cut into 1/2″ slices
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup farro or arborio rice
1/2 cup heavy cream, half-and-half, or coconut milk
Salt and pepper to taste
- Crispy Shallots & Bacon Bits
2 slices of bacon
1/2 large shallot, sliced thin and rings separated
2 TBSP flour
1/4 tsp salt
- Lemon Sour Cream Drizzle
1/2 cup whole fat plain greek yogurt (or sour cream)
Juice and zest from 1/2 a lemon (may need more)
Pinch of salt
- Preheat oven to 400F and arrange one of the oven racks so it’s on the topmost setting and ready to go when it’s time to make your 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, though it’s okay if they still have some stem attached to them. Set the buds aside and chop the 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 water until it does. Bring to a boil and cook for 10 minutes, adjusting heat so that it doesn’t boil over.
- Use a slotted spoon or wire spider to transfer the cooked broccoli and onions from the pot to your blender, along with three 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 broccoli and broth 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 should pour out the remaining cooking liquid. 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 half of 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 topmost rack of a 400F oven for 5-7 minutes until bright/dark green and lightly charred.
Make any other toppings now, too.
- Stir the other half of the broccoli buds into the soup, and let cook 5 more minutes. Taste, and adjust salt and pepper as needed. Spoon into bowls and top with roasted broccoli bits and any other toppings your heart desires.
- Bacon Bits & Crispy 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.
- Lemon Yogurt Drizzle
- Mix 1/2 cup yogurt with lemon zest and juice. The sauce should be fairly liquidy — more like a heavy cream than a yogurt — so add more lemon juice if it seems too thick to drizzle.
- Salt to taste.
- 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.