Broccoli has gotten a bad rap. After George Bush proudly proclaimed his dislike for this cruciferous vegetable, a raft of people jumped onto the anti-broccoli bandwagon. I'd like to say a few words in its defense.
When prepared well, broccoli is perhaps the most beautiful and delicious vegetable available for those of us who live in a climate that has distinct seasons. Broccoli is an easy side dish steamed, stir-fried, or creamed. When my children went through their anti-vegetable stage, they still liked "trees" for dinner.
However, broccoli brought my husband and me together. You see, when we were dating, my father called a meeting with my future husband, and the outcome was that we were not going to see each other any more. Several nights later, I got a telephone call. It was my husband-to-be. He had a head of broccoli and didn't know what to do with it. Of course, the next night I prepared the broccoli, and we have been together ever since.
Broccoli is at its best sauteed quickly with a little garlic, red pepper, and olive oil. But it also makes a delicious and easy soup. Here's a quick and easy recipe that makes an excellent first course. People will think you slaved all day. I won't tell that it only took 15 minutes!
Cream of Broccoli Soup
2 cups chicken stock
1 stalk celery, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 medium carrot, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 onion, chopped
1 clove of garlic
a generous pinch of cayenne pepper
2 cups steamed broccoli (still bright green)
1 cup heavy or whipping cream
Bring chicken stock, celery, carrot, onion, garlic and cayenne pepper to a boil in a medium saucepan. Reduce heat to medium and simmer for 10 minutes. While the stock is simmering, steam the broccoli and drain. Working with half of the stock and the broccoli at a time, puree in a blender (be very careful because the mixture is very hot). Return the pureed mixture to the medium saucepan and add the cream. Reheat gently (do not bring to a full boil), and season to taste with salt and pepper. If you like, garnish with chopped parsley and a dollop of sour cream.