Roast Broccoli for a Creamy Soup Filled With Fall Flavors

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A warming fall soup with the deep flavor of roasted broccoli and a gentle buttermilk tang. [Photographs: Daniel Gritzer]

I shop at the farmers market with the best intentions, but I'll admit that sometimes my enthusiasm is greater than the time I have to cook everything I buy. Just last week I picked up a beautiful bright green head of broccoli with tight florets, then let days pass without doing anything with it. Eventually I opened the fridge and saw it languishing there, a slight sag to its stalks, the vivid green washing away.

It hadn't gone bad, but it wasn't at its best. Situations like that call for soup: blended, creamy soup. Because my broccoli had lost its zest, I didn't want to try to capture its freshness by blanching it. Instead, I opted for the more significant transformation of roasting—it was already headed to dried and brown on its own, why not take it there a lot faster and get some good flavor out of it at the same time?

Now, that was the reality behind my version of this soup, and it's a good lesson in resourcefulness.* But of course I advise you to use fresh broccoli that's still at its peak. My soup tasted very good with not very good broccoli, yours will taste even better with good broccoli.

* A better lesson, though, would be me learning to cook the broccoli sooner, or buying less at the farmers market each week.

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To make the soup, I followed a tried-and-true creamy-soup-making method, which Kenji has detailed excellently in this piece. I started by tossing my broccoli in olive oil and roasting it until browned and tender.

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Then I sweated onion and garlic in olive oil, flavored it with some coriander seed and crushed red pepper, and added the broccoli.

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I added some buttermilk, for a light dairy flavor and tang, along with vegetable stock, and blended it all until smooth, working a little extra olive oil into the puree in the blender. It'll come out of the blender a little thick, but you can return it to the pot and thin it with more vegetable stock until the consistency is just right.

As Kenji describes in his creamy soup article, it's nice to add a little touch of acid to a finished soup, but in this case I left it out since the buttermilk is already lending it just enough tartness.

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I had some extra pepitas lying around from my Mexican butternut squash soup, so I tossed them with olive oil and spices like turmeric, cumin, coriander, and mustard seed and toasted them in the oven while the soup was cooking. Once they were done, I mixed in a little extra olive oil along with parsley and lemon zest. It's a great garnish for this soup.

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Eating the soup, no one would have guessed it was a salvage job. Except now I've gone and told the whole world. Dammit.

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