Broccoli, White Bean, and Cheddar Soup

The semester has picked up for me, so I have been hard at work...except for spending the weekend camping in northern Florida. I am no camping expert whatsoever, so this whole weekend was a new experience for me. Of course, the wilds of Florida were beautiful, and we had some good camping fare, with lots of grilled meat and veggies cooked in aluminum foil. As much as I planned on photographing my contributions to meals, somehow it slipped my mind, however I did make tzaziki and some 3-bean salad. Perhaps I'll get around to making those again.

Moving to tonight's dinner, I was focusing on detox from all the meat I ate this weekend, so I found a veggie-ful soup from It's basically broccoli cheese soup made healthy because instead of using cream it used white beans to add creaminess. I also made a change by using 2% milk cheese instead of full fat---in a pureed soup, you'll never miss the difference, especially if you get a full-flavored cheese like sharp cheddar. This soup is so good I'm pretty sure you could get your average creamy, fatty broccoli soup fans to convert. Not only is it really creamy and soothing, it's so easy to make. This took me all of 10 minutes since I used pre-shredded cheese and pre-cleaned broccoli that I very sloppily chopped into rough pieces. One other derivation was made because my store didn't have cannellini beans today, so I just got great northern beans---any white bean will do! Another thing I love about this soup is that it has one of my new spice loves in it: white pepper. I don't know how I did without this stuff before! It's warming like black pepper, but not quite as smoky, plus it doesn't leave little black flecks in your food. This was one of Julia Child's favorite spices, as you could see her on her tv program going for the white pepper as much as if not more than black pepper. As always, the Grande Dame was right.

Broccoli, White Bean, and Cheddar Soup

1 14-oz can low-sodium vegetable or chicken broth
1 cup water
1 lb broccoli, cleaned and cut into chunks (approx: 6 cups)
1 14-oz can white beans, such as cannellini, great northern, navy, or butter beans
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp white pepper
1 cup grated 2% milk sharp cheddar cheese

1. Combine the broth and water in a large saucepan over high heat. Once the broth boils, reduce heat to medium and add the broccoli; cover and cook 8 minutes.
2. Remove the lid, then add the beans and allow them to heat through, about 1 minute.
3. Use and immersion blender to blend the soup in the saucepan, or add the soup mixture to the pitcher of a blender (you may have to puree in batches). Puree the soup, being careful because the liquid will be extremely hot. (Tip: remove the center stopper from the lid of your blender, put the lid on the blender and then cover the top with a folded kitchen towel. This will prevent a hot vacuum as you open the blender later.)
4. Finally, add the cheese to the puree and continue to blend until it's all smooth. Serve immediately.

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