Peel and rough chop broccoli stems, then store them in the freezer. When you've got 4 cups, you're ready to make this soup. The frozen pieces go right into the pot.
Cream of Broccoli Soup
1 1/2 Tbsp olive oil
1 1/2 cups chopped onion
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp. dried basil
1 tsp salt (plus more to taste)
1/4 tsp. pepper (plus more to taste)
Generous pinch of dried thyme
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 cups chopped broccoli stems
2 1/2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
2 cups milk (whatever fat content you have is fine)
1/2 cup sour cream or plain yogurt
1. Heat olive oil in a dutch oven or stock pot over medium heat. When oil is hot, add onion, bay leaf, basil, and thyme to pan. Add 1 teaspoon of salt and 1/4 tsp. pepper, then saute the onion for 5-7 minutes or until onion is translucent. Add garlic and saute for about a minute more.
2. Add broccoli pieces and broth. Bring to a boil, then reduce to simmer. Cook about 10 minutes, or until broccoli is very tender. (If you're lazy like me and your "rough chop" is very rough and some pieces are biggish, it might need 15 minutes.)
3. Remove the bayleaf, then puree the soup in batches in a blender. (Please be careful! Only fill the blender halfway at most.)
4. Return the soup to the pot, then whisk in milk and sour cream or yogurt while heating gently over medium heat. Do not allow the mixture to boil. Whisk the soup occasionally while it heats to fully incorporate the sour cream or yogurt. Taste and adjust seasonings and serve hot.
Variation 1: Sour cream or yogurt can be omitted if you don't have any on hand. Soup will be thinner but still delicious.
Variation 2: Omit the sour cream or yogurt and replace half a cup of the milk with heavy cream or half and half if you have some on hand.
Variation 3: Omit the sour cream or yogurt and whisk in 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese. Heat through until cheese melts and soup is hot.
Variation 4: Thinly slice and lightly steam some broccoli florets as a garnish. I never do this, but it does make a nice presentation.