I used to be one of those misguided souls that thought that if a dish had a vegetable in its title, then it was automatically healthy. I would say that I was ignorant, but I’m trying to work on the way I talk to myself in my head.
Thanks to Cooking Light magazine this month, I’ve learned that my favorite seemingly healthy broccoli-cheese soup is, in actuality, a heart-attack in a bowl merely masquerading as “healthy”. Most broccoli-cheese soup concoctions are nearly 500 calories per cup, and thanks to the butter, cream and cheese typically included, one little serving can provide an entire day’s worth of saturated fat! Shocking, I know. This is even if you make it at home. The unhealthy facts are even worse if you’re looking at broccoli-cheese soups served in restaurants these days (just open your mouth and pour some salt straight in, you’ll be better off). #saltedtongue
So, what’s a broccoli-cheese soup lover to do? Trade-off the butter and cream in a way that is pure genius and that allows you to keep the best part: the cheese. This soup was super easy to make too. 45 minutes tops. 30 if you’re a messy cook and care less about presentation.
YOU WILL NEED:
4 cups unsalted chicken stock, divided
1/2 cup uncooked instant brown rice
1 cup 1% low-fat milk (I actually used my toddler’s whole milk because I don’t buy any other kind, as I drink almond milk)
2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup chopped yellow onion
3 garlic cloves, minced (I used 5 because I love me some gaaahhhlic)
1 and 1/4 pounds of broccoli florets, coarsely chopped
3/4 teaspoon Himalayan salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper (plus more to taste, if desired)
5 ounces extra-sharp, low-fat cheddar cheese, shredded and divided (about 1 and 1/4 cups)
1. Combine 2 cups stock and rice in a small saucepan over medium-high heat; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 25-30 minutes. This is the one time that you want to overcook rice; you want it soft and blown out. The more liquid the rice absorbs, the creamier and silkier it will become … which is what you want for what you’re going to be using the rice for! When ready, remove the rice from heat and let stand for 5 minutes. Place rice mixture and milk (low fat or whole, your choice) in a blender. Remove center piece of blender lid or open the corner door of your Ninja (to allow steam to escape); secure blender lid on blender. Place a clean towel over the opening (to avoid splatters). Blend until smooth. You’ll notice that the rice doesn’t get sticky or gummy when pureed like this because it is gluten free!
2. Heat a large saucepan over medium heat. Add oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add onion; sauté 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add garlic; cook 30 seconds. Add broccoli and salt; cook 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Add remaining 2 cups stock; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes or just until broccoli is tender. Add rice mixture; simmer 2 minutes, stirring occasionally.
3. Place 2 cups soup in blender; process until smooth. Return pureed soup to pan. Add pepper, more to taste, and 4 ounces cheese; stir until cheese melts. Divide soup evenly among 6 bowls; sprinkle evenly with remaining 1 ounce of cheese. Enjoy!
The brown rice mixture replaces the butter, flour, and heavy cream typically used to thicken this favorite soup, saving 276 calories and 19.1 grams of saturated fat!! That’s per serving!
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