soup’s on

Broccoli and Cauliflower soup served up in a pottery bowl made by Linda Hynes
(see my previous post featuring one of her creations).

Cold weather tasks such as cleaning up after an ice storm often work up an appetite. One of our favourite winter meals is Broccoli and Cauliflower soup. I made the first batch of the season this week. It’s quick and easy to make and is a meal in itself, so I thought I’d share it. I rarely ever cook from recipes, so consider the instructions to be more of a rough guideline (I make it a little differently each time). Friends have asked for this recipe (there isn’t one), and they’ve been able to recreate this soup from my vague notes, so this will probably work if you give it a try.


1 head cauliflower, broken into large florets
1 large bunch of broccoli, cut into large florets, slice stalks coarsely
3 or 4 medium cooking onions, sliced
2 or 3 medium potatoes, peeled and coarsely grated.
4 to 8 ounces of sharp old cheddar, grated
3 cups milk (can vary)
1 T. mustard seed
1 T. dill seed
1 t. mustard powder
freshly ground black pepper (a few dashes)
1 t. salt (to taste)
butter (or margarine)
flour (about 2 T.)

In a large pot, sauté sliced onions in about 1 T. butter. When they begin to brown, add about 4 cups water, mustard seed, dill seed, mustard powder, freshly ground black pepper, and about 1 t. salt. Add broccoli and allow water to heat to boiling. Add cauliflower on top of broccoli. Add grated potatoes. Add enough water to just cover the vegetables. Cover and allow to simmer at a low boil.

In a smaller pot, melt about 2 T. butter in pot. Add about 2 T. flour to make a roux (heat the flour and butter mixture while stirring until it seems “cooked” – don’t burn it!). Add about 3 cups of milk to this. I find it works best to heat the milk a little before adding to the roux as it will blend more smoothly. When the milk mixture thickens well, add the grated cheese. I happen to like plenty of sharp cheese in this soup, but you could use less cheese, medium cheese, or maybe some other kind of cheese that you prefer. Melt the cheese into the milk and stir until smooth.

When the vegetables are cooked enough, they should be tender, but not overcooked (unless you prefer them to be more cooked). Reduce the heat to low. Remove a cup or two of the liquid from the vegetables and add it to the milk mixture and stir over heat until blended. Slowly pour the milk mixture into the pot with the vegetables and stir gently over low heat until well blended and the mixture thickens slightly.

Variations: A friend has mentioned that he has varied my recipe a little by adding ground chili pepper seeds. I think he adds them alongside the mustard seed, etc…

Note: This soup seems to become even better after being in the fridge for a day or two (if it lasts that long). Just reheat over low heat, and serve.


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9 Responses to “soup’s on”

  1. Peter Says:

    That looks very tastey. I use a similar recipe for all sorts of soups and change up the vegetables. I find if you plan to have leftovers, leave the potatoes out as they aren’t always the best the second day.. atleast for me :-) I also agree with your friend and the red pepper flakes, they work really well in white sauce and cream soups.

    Hot and sour soup is on my menu for tonight, and cream of butternut squash tomorrow.

  2. Ruth Says:

    A patient of mine taught me how to make a similar soup, which we now call “Mary’s soup”. It was the first time I had been shown how to make a good roux. This is a favourite “clean out the fridge” vegetable soup at our house. I use your ingredients, but also add a bit of diced carrot and red pepper for colour and flavour. It really doesn’t take long to make compared to legume soups.

  3. burning silo Says:

    Peter – It sounds to me like you eat quite well there! How do you make your hot and sour soup? That’s one of my favourites.

    Ruth – You’re quite right – this is a very quick soup to make. I don’t think it takes much more than 20 or 3 minutes and it’s ready.

  4. LauraH Says:

    Sounds yummy – but anything with broccoli usually is.

    That roux business makes me nervous. My brother is a good cook and has shown me how to do it a few times, mostly for gravy, but I still can’t get the hang of it. Think I’ll have to give it another go for this soup.

  5. burning silo Says:

    Laura – I use a roux for a lot of different things and they’re actually not too difficult. The biggest problem seems to be in not burning the butter and flour mixture while getting it cooked enough before adding the milk or other fluids. I have a heavy-bottomed stainless steel pot that I use for this, but I usually tip it a bit to one side to keep it off the direct heat as the roux starts to cook. I continue stirring it and make sure it bubbles and seems to cook through before adding fluid. I’ve found that it’s definitely better to add hot fluid rather than cold as the flour mixture will blend right into the fluid without much stirring. Cold fluid tends to make the flour mixture go lumpy. By the way, I use this same roux mixture with about 4 cups of milk to make scalloped potatoes. I just slice up potatoes and some onions, mix it with the roux (but I add some salt while making the roux) and bake it in a covered dish. Very easy.

  6. robin andrea Says:

    That soup sounds perfect for our winter weather. The addition of red pepper flakes or cayenne works too. We like our food on the hot side. I’d also like to hear how to make a hot and sour soup.

  7. Peter Says:

    This is a modified version of something we found online. Stacy makes it better than I do, but she is not here at the moment for me to ask for details :-) She is from Taiwan and they make it pretty good over there I hear.

    4 cups chicken broth (I haven’t tried but I think vegetable broth will work)
    1 cup fresh mushrooms (I like shitake, goes well with the asian flavour of the dish, but white will work)
    1/2 cup sliced bamboo shoots (optional)
    2 tablespoons fresh grated ginger
    2 cloves garlic, minced (I cheat and use the pre-minced garlic in the jar)
    3 teaspoons soy sauce
    1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (or to taste, I like more)
    1 skinless chicken breast, cut into thin small strips (substitute with tofu for vegetarian, also duck for a different taste)
    1 to 1 1/2 tablespoon sesame oil
    1/2 cup finely chopped onion
    3 to 5 tablespoons rice wine vinegar (depending on how sour you like it, and red wine vinegar or white vinegar will also work)
    2-4 tablespoons cornstarch (depending on how thick you like it)
    1-2 eggs, beaten

    Fresh cilantro to taste. I also add ceyanne pepper for extra kick too, love the heat!

    Add everything but the eggs, cornstarch and vinegar to a pot. Bring to simmer for 10-15 minutes. Mix vinegar and cornstarch in a bowl and add to soup with chicken and eggs.. and put the eggs in slowly from a drizzle so it does not clump up. Cook additional 5-10 minutes.

    This is deffinitly one of those dishes that we make different every time. It goes well with stir fry or fried rice.. I love it with nasi goering, an indonesian rice dish.

  8. burning silo Says:

    Peter – Thanks for posting your Hot and Sour Soup recipe! I’m sure Robin and I will both be giving it a try. I might even make a batch this weekend.

  9. Cathy Says:

    Ummmm. I’ve got to get out my soup pot. Thanks for the inspiration.