This soup was inspired by a very similar soup that I saw at work, made by our resident soup master, Sous Chef Ceasar.  This man is a freaking magician of soups; his beef stew tastes just like my Daddy would make when I was a little girl and his chicken tortilla soup is worth of song.  The other day, we were all sitting around and waiting for Ceasar’s tortilla soup to be ready, tummies audibly grumbling in anticipation.  I think I’ll definitely to make something similar before winter is over.

In the mean time, please enjoy this fantastic Broccoli Cheddar soup with both a bacon lovers and a vegetarian variation.  (Can you guess which one I am?)

If you want to make my ciabatta bread bowls, remember to start the dough the night before.  I learned how to make ciabatta from this youtube video, it’s in Italian, but the visuals on the consistency of the dough should be very helpful.  Plus, little Italian children are always adorable!

Ciabatta

Makes one large loaf or 4 bread bowls – cost approx $.50 per loaf

Ingredients

  • 1 lb All Purpose Flour – about 3 cups, but measuring is always better
  • 1 Tbs salt
  • 1 tsp active dry yeast
  • 2 cups water

Combine all the dry ingredients in a bowl, then mix in the water with a strong spoon.  You may need a little more or less water, keep slowly adding water until all the flour is moistened and the dough is a very sticky consistency.  Let the mixture sit in a warm place for 8 – 20 hours to rise.  In my experience anywhere in that time frame will make nice bread.

Use a spatula to punch down the dough.  Put the dough on a prepared pan: either on silicone mat, a liberally greased pan, or a heavily floured pan.  If you’re making bread bowls make four equal piles of dough, it will spread don’t worry, you can deal with it later.  If you’re making a loaf lay the dough on the prepared pan.  Let the dough sit and proof for 30 minutes to 2 hours.  Preheat the oven to 425 F.  When the dough is ready to go into the oven, use a spatula to form the dough into more of a compact loaf or bread bowl shape.  Bake for about 20 minutes or until the top is browned and hardened.  Yum!

Broccoli Cheddar Soup – instructions specific to the bacon-y version in bold and vegetarian version in italics

Serves 4-6 – cost approx $.66 per serving

Ingredients

  • 4 oz bacon ($.50)
  • 2 Tbs butter
  • 1 1/2 onions, medium dice ($.13)
  • 3 ribs celery, medium dice ($.26)
  • 3 broccoli stems, medium dice, and a few florets, cut to spoon-size bits ($.88)
  • 2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
  • 4 medium russet potatoes, peeled, and small diced, divided use ($.30)
  • 2 cups milk ($.31)
  • salt and black pepper – to taste
  • 3 scallions ($.12)
  • 4 oz shredded cheddar ($.56)

Render the bacon in a large pot, then remove the crispy bacon and reserve for later.  Melt the butter in a large pot.  When you’re cutting the vegetables, there’s no need to be precise, you’re going to blend them later.  Saute the onions, celery and broccoli stems for 5 minutes or so.  Add the stock and bring to a simmer.  Add in half of the potatoes and simmer until all of the vegetables are tender and cooked through, 15-30 minutes depending on how large the pieces are.  Add in the milk.  Add in a few pieces of bacon, and save some bacon for garnish.  Season to taste and blend until very smooth with an immersion blender.  Bring back to a simmer and add in the remaining potatoes and broccoli florets.  Cook until the potatoes are tender.

While the potatoes are cooking, prepare the garnishes: crumble the bacon, slice the scallions and shred the cheese.  (I tossed the little nub of the cheese left over when you’re done grating into the pot.)  Now you’re ready to server yourself a steamy bowl of yum and garnish to your hearts content.

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