Roasted Broccoli & Cheddar Soup {lightened up}

When I have a sore throat, headache, fever & cold, I want to eat something warm, something comforting, something not too heavy, something flavorful. Something like this roasted broccoli & cheddar soup. I made it last week, but should’ve saved some for today as I’m lying in bed with the above symptoms and just ate tomato bisque out of a can. Oh well.

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Roasted broccoli is one of my all time favorite foods because of it’s nutty, crisp, & rich flavor. Roasting broccoli with just a little olive oil plus salt and pepper, mmm, just can’t go wrong. Adding in some extra sharp cheddar cheese and making a delicious wintertime soup is the best next step. Most broccoli cheese soups I’ve tasted are richly creamy, meaning super heavy. I tried to lighten it up a bit! So while three cups of cheese may seem like a lot, its a big down size from cheese+half & half+whole milk-whew! This soup focuses mostly on the broccoli rather than being overly cream filled. In fact, the only dairy item is cheddar. A hot slice of honey beer bread is the perfect side, which I told you that we’ve been making a lot because it is SO quick, easy and absolutely delicious.

Ingredients:

Serves 4

2 pounds of broccoli

4 cups  vegetable broth

3 cups sharp cheddar cheese

2 Tablespoons flour

4 Tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoon salt + more to taste

1 teaspoon pepper + more to taste

2 teaspoons garlic powder

To Make:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Rinse and chop broccoli and spread out on a baking sheet. Cover with two tablespoons of olive oil, salt, pepper & garlic powder. Roast for 20 minutes until crisp.

Add two tablespoons of olive oil to soup pot over medium heat, let warm then add flour. Whisk together to remove any lumps, for about 2 minutes. Add vegetable broth slowly, allowing to bubble. Add cheddar cheese and stir together to melt.

When the broccoli is finish roasting, add it to the broth-cheese mixture. If you have a hand blender (highly recommend!) put it in the soup and blend until smooth. Taste soup and add more salt and pepper if necessary. If you do not have a hand blender, allow soup to cool, then pour it into your blender and blend until smooth, then return it to the soup pot and allow to warm.

Serve warm with honey beer bread! Enjoy!

*note: the soup will thicken up if you allow it to simmer for a bit. However, if you want it to be even thicker, add a Tablespoon of flour and blend, the flour will smooth out and thicken the soup.

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Now, who wants to bring me some?

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Nutella Hot Chocolate with Cinnamon Whipped Cream

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What could be better than a hot cup of hot chocolate on a cold rainy day? Topped with a cinnamon vanilla whipped cream, this is the perfect dessert or afternoon treat. Have some friends over and enjoy!

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Nutella Hot Chocolate with Cinnamon Whipped Cream

serves 4

Adapted from The Sweetest Occasion

For the Hot Chocolate

4 Cup of Milk (any milk will do, I like coconut milk!)

8 Tablespoons of Nutella

Over medium heat, warm milk in a saucepan. When warmed through, add Nutella and whisk to combine. Continue heating over medium heat, whisking as necessary, until cocoa is steamy and frothy. (Make sure not to boil or scald the milk!)

For the Cinnamon Whipped Cream

1 Cup Heavy Cream

1/2 Cup Sugar

1/2 teaspoon Ground Cinnamon

1 teaspoon Vanilla

Mix all ingredients in a large bowl, then beat using a hand mixer or an immersion blender with the whisk attachment. Beat until the cream stiffens and creates peaks. Dollop Whipped Cream on top of your hot chocolate and enjoy!

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Sweet Potato Jalapeno Soup with Avocado Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

Ultimate cozy winter comfort food.

Rich, creamy sweet potatoes with just the right kick from some roasted jalapenos and perfectly paired with a simple yet decadent avocado and havarti grilled cheese sandwich. Please dip your grilled cheese into the soup, that is mandatory. This soup is especially wonderful after a long cold day when you just want to feel warm and snuggly.

Who can resist avocado and cheese slathered onto two buttery pieces of bread and grilled?

Look how pretty these are!

Did you know: sweet potatoes are usually only about 44 cents a pound at the grocery and contain lots of vitamins? Healthy and cheap! Also, when boiled then cooled, the skin peels off easily. Even if you don’t love sweet potatoes by themselves, this soup is definitely worth a try!

My notes: 

The soup is rather rich, especially paired with the grilled cheese, so its quite filling, even for the menfolk.

Next time I make this I will add even more jalapeno than is included in my recipe below. I would have enjoyed the spice level kicked up a little more.

I don’t know why anyone would ever do this, but I put whole peppercorn in the soup thinking it would get blended up, well, it didn’t. So we had some peppery bites!

An immersion blender is very helpful for this soup. If you don’t have one, I’m sure you could just blend it in your regular blender, but let it cool down before doing so.

For the grilled cheese: you must use havarti! The creaminess is out of this world, especially paired with the avocado.

Sweet Potato Jalapeno Soup 

adapted from food.com 

Serves 6 

Ingredients: 

3lbs sweet potatoes

4 cups chicken broth, or 4 cups water with 4 cubes chicken bouillon

1 medium onion, chopped

3 garlic cloves, minced

5 slices bacon

6 tablespoons butter

1/4 cup jalapeno

2 teaspoons cumin

1/2 cup chopped cilantro

1/2 cup half-and-half

salt and pepper to taste

To make:

First, preheat your oven to 400 degrees, rinse off your jalapenos, wrap in foil, and throw them in for 20 minutes. Then take them out and give them a rough chop.

Scrub your sweet potatoes and cut them in half. Bring a large pot of water to boil and add in sweet potatoes. Boil until you can stick them and they are soft. Drain and let them cool until you can handle them. Peel off the skin, set aside.

While potatoes are cooling, add butter to the soup pot over medium-high heat. Add onion, saute until onions are translucent, add garlic and saute about one more minute. Cook your bacon separately in the microwave, oven, or in a skillet. When cooked, break 3 of the slices into pieces and add to the onions and garlic.

Add chicken broth to the pot, cover and bring to a boil. Slice the peeled sweet potatoes into bite sized pieces and add to the soup pot. Add jalapenos, cumin, cilantro, and half-and-half. Stir into soup. Sprinkle with a little salt and pepper.

Use your immersion blender or regular blender, to blend all the ingredients until they are smooth with no lumps. Add salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle remaining bacon and some cilantro on top.

Avocado Grilled Cheese Sandwiches 

Ingredients: 

4 slices of bread-I used multi grain sandwich bread

1/2 large avocado

4 thin slices havarti cheese

a little butter

To make: 

Butter each piece of bread. Flip over and spread 1/4 avocado on two of the slices, on their opposite slice place 2 slices of havarti cheese. Make into a sandwich.

Cook sandwiches over medium heat in a non-stick pan. When one side gets nicely browned, flip it and brown the other side!

Enjoy!