A remarkably creamy-rich soup with a secret. There’s not a drop of cream in it.
Bon Appetit Editor Sarah Jampel developed this recipe for the magazine’s “Basically” series. “Basically” focuses on beginner home cooks. Do not be put off by the length of the recipe. Ms. Jampel wants to give her readers very thorough instructions This is an easy recipe to make. You do need a blender to achieve its creamy texture. It gets that smooth richness by using the Broccoli stalks and a Russet Potato. Then there’s the cheese. In the original recipe, that cheese was Cheddar. By all means, use Cheddar if you’d like. I was keen on simply using Pepper Jack because I had it on hand and I like heat. And, with its red pepper flakes, this version really delivered. But it’s the croutons that sealed our fondness for this soup.
It’s like having a Grilled Cheese Sandwich floating atop the soup.
You might consider this gilding the lily, but this crunchy, cheesy crouton floating above the light, bright bowl of soup makes it even more memorable. Some rendition of Grilled Cheese Sandwiches has been around for centuries. There are even recipes for them in Roman texts. More recently, the French started making Croque Monsieurs in the early 1900s. And in the US, in the 1920s, “Melted Cheese” or “Toasted Cheese” sandwiches took off. That was when James L. Kraft received a patent for his method of pasteurizing cheese. This allowed the cheese to be transported without spoiling. On Kraft’s heels, Otto Frederick Robwedder invented the automatic bread slicer that produced even slices. In World War II, navy chefs prepared thousands of “American Cheese Filling Sandwiches”, an open-faced sandwich topped with grated cheese.
In 1949, Kraft changed the cheese world forever.
That was the year that Kraft introduced single wrapped slices of processed cheese called “Kraft Singles”. That coincided with people adding the second piece of bread thereby creating the modern grilled cheese sandwich. There are recipes for grilled cheese sandwiches or their predecessors dating from 1902’s “Mrs. Rorer’s New Cook Book” who made hers in the oven. 1929’s “Seven Hundred Sandwiches” used the broiler. 1953’s “Joy of Cooking” used the waffle iron. The version we are sharing is closest to 1939’s “The Boston Cooking-School Cook Book” which sautés the sandwich in a frying pan. The only difference is rather than using butter, we use mayonnaise. We think it’s the best way to achieve a perfect Grilled Cheese sandwich… or our soup croutons. Here are the recipes and after them, some other soups to try.
Broccoli Pepper Jack Soup with Grilled Cheese Croutons
Crunchy, Grilled Cheese croutons floating on the light, bright creamy-rich bowl of Broccoli and Cheese soup makes it even more memorable.
- 2 onions
- 4 garlic cloves
- 3 Tbsp. unsalted butter
- ½ tsp. crushed red pepper flakes, plus more for sprinkling
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 2 heads of broccoli
- 1 medium russet potato
- 8 oz. sharp cheddar cheese
- 4 thick slices rustic white bread
- ½ cup plain Greek yogurt
- For the Grilled Cheese Croutons: 2 slices of Crusty Rustic Bread
- 2 tbsp. Mayonnaise *I like Japanese Kewpie Mayo
- 2 or 3 Slices of Cheddar, Muenster, Provolone, Pepperjack Swiss, or any melting cheese of your choice.
- Step 1 Halve 2 onions. Peel and coarsely chop. Peel and smash 4 garlic cloves, then coarsely chop. No need to break out your best knife skills because it’s all going to get blended but try to cut everything into somewhat even pieces so they cook at the same rate.
- Step 2 Melt 3 Tbsp. unsalted butter in a large Dutch oven or pot over medium-low heat. Add onion, garlic, and ½ tsp. red pepper flakes.Season with salt and black pepper. Stir to combine, then cover pot and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and just starting to take on color, 8–10 minutes.
- Step 3 Meanwhile, trim bottoms of 2 heads of broccoli, then peel. Separate hefty stalks from florets (the thin, little stalks attached to broccoli tops are fine to leave attached to the crowns). Set aside florets. Coarsely chop stalks into 1″–2″ pieces. Peel 1 medium russet potato. Coarsely chop into 1″–2″ pieces.
- Step 4 Add broccoli stalks and potato pieces to the pot and stir to coat in butter. Pour in 5 cups water, add 1 Tbsp. salt, and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low and keep at a simmer. Cover pot and cook until broccoli stalks and potatoes are completely tender (test with a cake tester, paring knife, or fork), 20–25 minutes.
- Step 5 Meanwhile, chop reserved florets into small pieces (you can take the time to separate them into baby florets or just have at them with your chef’s knife). Grate 8 oz. cheese on the large holes of a box grater. You should have about 2 1/2 cups.
- Step 6 Add half of the florets to the pot, cover, and cook until bright green, 3–5 minutes. Transfer to a blender, let cool for 5 minutes and purée until smooth. Some blender advice: Don’t fill your blender more than halfway—work in batches as necessary. To avoid explosions, remove the center lid from the blender and cover with a kitchen towel. Alternatively, use an immersion blender. Your soup won’t be quite as smooth, but it will still be great. Return purée to the pot.
- Step 7 Return to medium heat and add remaining florets. Cover pot and cook until bright green, another 3–5 minutes. Add 2 cups cheddar cheese and stir until smooth. Cover and reduce heat to low.
- Step 8 Make the Grilled Cheese Croutons: Spread one side of each slice of bread with one tablespoon of mayonnaise. Cut Cheese to completely cover the bread completely. Spread the outside of the sandwich with the second tablespoon of mayonnaise.
- Step 9 Heat a large non-stick skillet over low heat. Place the sandwich into the skillet. Press down with a spatula and flip the sandwich over to check its color once you see the cheese is melting. Once the sandwich has achieved a golden-brown color, take the sandwich from the skillet.
- Step 10 Cut cheese toasts into 1″ (spoon-sized!) pieces. Divide soup among bowls. Top with Grilled Cheese croutons. Serve.