There are lots of foods I’m more than a little obsessed with. Anything with a container you can eat (think tacos and bread bowls), pancakes, soups, and cheese. That puts broccoli cheese soup in a bread bowl in the danger zone of deliciousness. Unfortunately (or fortunately, if considering my waistline) broccoli cheese soups are very rarely vegetarian in restaurants, so I always have to make my own.
I have always been a little disappointed in homemade broccoli cheese soups. They taste great and you have control over their calories, but, compared to their restaurant bought cousins, the color is always a little sad. I’ve seen recipes that use sweet potatoes to brighten the color, but I’d rather have that crusty bread bowl or a piece of bread on the side than add indistinguishable carbs to my soup. Enter butternut squash: bright orange, slightly sweet, and full of vitamins A, C, and E– exactly what this soup needs to keep it colorful, tasty, and a little healthier.
Healthy Broccoli Cheese Soup with Butternut Squash
Author: Kelly Hutchinson
1 ½ c butternut squash or 12 oz frozen squash puree
1 head broccoli or frozen broccoli
½ onion, chopped
4 tbsp flour (I used white whole wheat)
1 tbsp butter or margarine (optional)
3+ c vegetable broth, separated
1 c almond milk or other milk
1 large carrot, finely chopped
3 c reduced fat shredded cheese (I recommend a mix of reduced fat sharp cheddar and colby jack)
1 tsp garlic powder
salt and pepper, to taste
If using fresh squash: oven roast until very soft. Using a blender, puree with 2 c of vegetable broth until very smooth. Transfer to large sauce pan over medium heat.
If using frozen squash puree: thaw on counter or in microwave. Heat in large saucepan and add 2 c of vegetable broth. Stir or whisk until the puree is smooth.
Meanwhile, steam broccoli or cook according to package instructions.
In a separate pan, saute onion using optional butter or nonstick spray. When onions are soft, add the flour, coating the onions. Cook 1 – 2 minutes longer, until the flour is slightly toasted.
Add the onions to the squash puree, stirring well to prevent the flour from clumping. Add 1 c vegetable broth and 1 c milk (if using fresh squash, you can use this liquid to “clean” the blender).
Finely chop approximately half of the broccoli and add to the soup along with the carrot. Cook until the soup is at desired thickness. If the soup is too thick, add additional broth. Roughly chop the remaining broccoli.
Add the cheese in three batches, stirring while the cheese melts. Add the roughly chopped broccoli. Cook until hot.
I’ve made this soup both with oven roasted squash and frozen squash. Oddly enough, I think the frozen squash produces the best results. If oven roasting your squash, make sure it is very soft before use or you may end up with a slightly grainy texture. If you’d like cauliflower in your soup, I’d recommend a frozen bag of mixed cauliflower, broccoli, and carrots rather than using raw broccoli and carrots.