Broccoli, Red Pepper, and Cheddar Soup

In our family we have a weakness for broccoli soups, especially broccoli cheddar.  When I came across this variation in The Gourmet Cookbook I knew we had to try it.  Of course, as with all recipes, we adapted the original instructions—cut down on the cheese, used half-and-half instead of cream and added leek, fresh corn and some shredded carrot. The corn adds a nice crunch as well as sweetness—use frozen, if fresh is unavailable. This is a great chowder for a cool, cloudy day when a mug of hot soup is just the tonic needed to warm you up from the inside out.


  • 1 small bunch broccoli (3/4 lb)
  • 1 large boiling potato (1/2 lb)
  • 2 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 large leek, white and lightest green part, thinly sliced
  • 1 red bell pepper, cored, seeded and cut into ½ inch pieces
  • 1 small carrot, shredded
  • 2 ears corn
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon dry mustard
  • ½  teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • ¾ cup half-and-half
  • 1 cup coarsely grated sharp Cheddar


  1. Husk corn and remove kernels from cobs.  To do this hold the ears upright, vertically, stem side down on a cutting board.  Using a small paring knife, cut along the cob in a downward motion, so that kernels fall off the cob onto the cutting board.  Reserve kernels.
  2. Cut off broccoli stems, and discard tough lower third of stem.  Peel stems and finely chop.  Cut remaining broccoli into 1 inch florets.
  3. Cook florets in a large pot of boiling salted water (1/2 Tbsp salt per 4 quarts water) until just tender, 2-3 minutes.  With a slotted spoon remove florets from pot and place in a bowl of ice water to stop cooking.  Drain, reserving 3 cups cooking water.
  4. Peel the potato and cut into ½ inch cubes.
  5. Melt butter in a large heavy saucepan over medium heat. Add potato, onion, leek, bell pepper, broccoli stems, carrot and garlic to the pot and cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is softened, 8-10 minutes.
  6. Add cumin, mustard, salt and pepper and cook, stirring, for 1 minute.
  7. Add flour and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes.
  8. Add reserved cooking liquid, stirring, partially cover, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until potatoes are tender, about 10 minutes.
  9. Add half and half, then cheese and heat until cheese has melted.
  10. Remove about 2 cups soup from the pot.  Then add corn kernels to the pot, and stir.
  11. Puree the 2 cups of soup in a blender or use an immersion blender, until almost smooth.  There should be a few chunks.
  12. Return puree to the pot, and add broccoli florets, stirring.  Cook over medium heat until heated through. Adjust salt and pepper as needed.
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