Which member of the Brassica vegetable family are you consuming the most of this time of year?
For some, it may be cauliflower or cabbage, while others possibly enjoy kale or Brussels sprouts. Then there’s the radishes, mustard greens, Bok-choy, turnips and Romanesco that are likely a little lower on the list. I try to mix it up with the various Brassica offerings throughout the week, with at least one of them hitting my plate daily through the winter months.
Today, I’m focused on likely the most popular member of this illustrious nutrient-dense vegetable family: fresh broccoli.
Composed of a flowering head, which is harvested before the tiny buds begin to open, as well as a hearty stem at the base, fresh broccoli is one of the most highly consumed vegetables this time of year. With both the crown portion and stems edible, broccoli is an incredibly versatile vegetable.
Enjoy broccoli roasted in the oven, in stir-fry’s, added to soups or raw in broccoli-based salads. There are many ways to prepare this somewhat sweet, grassy and herbaceous-flavored addition to your meals.
Some prefer broccoli’s naturally crunchy texture, while others may prefer to steam the florets until soft. Season broccoli simply with salt and pepper, top it with melted cheese, or enjoy it raw as it comes dipped in your favorite hummus.
Broccoli is also a nice addition to blended soups. I find the subtle broccoli flavor throughout, and light green hue of the broth, quite a comforting option to enjoy on a cool wintery evening.
This week, I combined some fresh leeks, Yukon gold potato, cloves of garlic and some freshly harvested broccoli in a delicious soul-warming blended soup.
Creamy Broccoli Potato Leek Soup
3 tablespoons butter.
1 1/2 pounds broccoli, chopped.
1 large leek, cut into small rounds.
4 garlic cloves, minced.
1 large Yukon gold potato, peeled and diced.
1 large carrot, peeled and diced.
3 tablespoons flour.
5 cups chicken or vegetable broth (I used low sodium).
8 ounces low-fat sour cream.
1 teaspoon ground cumin.
Salt and pepper to taste.
Optional: 1 cup fresh cilantro leaves.
In a medium soup pot, heat butter at medium-high. Andd broccoli, leeks, garlic, potato and carrot. Sauté for about 6-7 minutes. Mix in flour. When it just turns brown, add broth, ground cumin and salt and pepper. Miix well.
Simmer for about 15 minutes or until all ingredients are soft. Transfer to a blender or use an immersion blender and blend until very smooth. If adding the fresh cilantro, blend in with soup. If using a standard blender, transfer the contents back to the pot and turn to low heat.
Mix in sour cream until smooth. Serve warm.
Yield: Serves about 6.