Low-Fat Broccoli Cheddar Soup

Broccoli cheese soup is a classic.  It’s (mostly) universally liked, and why shouldn’t it be?  Most of the time it’s cheese soup with a little bit of broccoli.  Sign me up.
That said, broccoli cheese soup is most of the time so loaded up with cheese and cream that it completely negates the healthy habit of enjoying a warm, filling bowl of soup as a meal.  This soup fixes that–it’s just as comforting as a traditional bowl of broccoli cheese soup but uses a few tricks to lighten it up and cut the fat.
This isn’t a thick creamy bowl like you’d find at most delis or sandwich shops.  It’s heavy on the broccoli, which I love, and is thickened with a potato instead of butter and cream.  It does have a good amount of cheddar because there just isn’t a viable substitute for glorious cheese.  Lucky for us, there doesn’t have to be.

Let’s make soup.
Start with your ingredients: a large head of broccoli, chicken stock, a russet potato, fat free half and half, crushed red pepper, and an onion.  Not pictured: olive oil. 

Peel and cube the potato, cut the broccoli into florets, dice the onion.  Add olive oil to a heavy pot and add the diced onion and cubed potato.  Cook for about 5 minutes until the onion is soft, then season with salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes.  Cover with four cups of chicken stock.

Bring to a boil then reduce heat and let simmer for about 20 minutes, or until the potatoes are very tender and easily break apart when pierced with a fork.  Add the broccoli florets to the pot.

Cook for about 10 minutes more, or until the broccoli is tender.  Remove the pot from the heat and blend until smooth with an immersion blender.  You can also use a traditional blender working in batches.

I blended mine until mostly smooth, leaving a few larger pieces of broccoli for texture.  Once blended, add grated sharp cheddar to the pot and a splash of fat free half and half.

Stir until melted!  Serve in bowls with crusty bread or a nice turkey sandwich for that lunch-combo feel.

The soup is creamy and full of broccoli.  The bite of the cheddar makes it just decadent enough without feeling like you’re eating a bowl of cheese dip.  Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

This is a great soup to make at the beginning of the week and then use the leftovers for lunch the rest of the week.  It reheats great and gets better with time. 
This soup is healthy and delicious, two of my favorite things.  Add it to your pre-super bowl menu this week and embrace moderation!
Here’s the recipe.
Low-Fat Broccoli Cheddar SoupIngredients

  • 1 large head of broccoli (or two small heads), cut into florets
  • 1 medium russet potato, peeled and cubed
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/4 cup fat free half and half
  • 1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese

Method

  1. Heat olive oil in  large pot over medium heat.  Add potato and onion and cook until onion is soft, about 3 minutes.  Season with salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes, then cover with chicken stock. Bring to a boil then reduce to simmer and cook for about 20 minutes, or until the potatoes are very tender and easily fall apart when pierced with a fork.
  2. Add broccoli and cook for 10 minutes more.  Remove pot from the heat and blend to desired texture with an immersion blender or a traditional blender, working in batches.  Once blended, add half and half and shredded cheddar cheese.  Stir until combined/melted.  Taste for seasonings and adjust if necessary.
  3. Serve immediately.