Broccoli in the Face of Winter Soup

Winter is chasing you. You cannot escape her. You are not quite sure if the cold that you feel is real, or if it is anticipation that gnaws at your skin like teeth. Outside your cheeks are slapped by the wind, bringing tears to your eyes causing you to feel cast out like some rejected lover. You hurry inside, where your body boils and sweats like a child in the throws of sobbing hot tears. Your wool socks itch and your sweater chokes you, and the dry hum of the heater causes your brain to swell. This is winter: pure, unabridged discomfort. Your only chance of survival is to pull on your strongest armor, stare her directly in the face, put on a hearty smile and roar “Alright winter! I don’t like you and you don’t like me, but you can’t break me that easily!!! I am not going anywhere! BRING IT ON!!!!”

Shake the dark circles from under your eyes. Toss aside the covers from your tomb. Elevate you mind above the sleepy haze that enchants you and casts your eyes down. Sip in the orange and pink light of morning sun, so that you can breath out the story of it’s beauty. This sunrise tale will cause perfectly framed hooded faces to awaken like sunflowers toward the light.

Christina and I shuffled over the banks of ice that line our Minnesota streets. These banks were once fluffy with new snow, but have since thawed and frozen over again. With gloved hands we opened the swinging glass door to Cecil’s Jewish deli. Inside I felt my body thaw as I was greeted with memories of my east coast upbringing. Minnesota has a large population of Germans, as well as people of Scandinavian descent. In the twin cities you are more likely to encounter lutefisk than challah. Attached to the deli, Cecil’s has an old-fashioned diner style restaurant, the likes of which was somehow passed over by the low-fat and low-carb diets entirely. I settle into my laminated menu, looking forward to a good old-fashioned water bagel with lox and cream cheese. At the table next to ours, an older couple eats a piece of lemon pie with 6 inches of meringue on top. The smell of rye and butter sizzles off of some far away griddle and permeates my taste buds. Our waiter, is not from Saint Paul, Christina and I recognize him immediately from some parties around town.

“It’s Matt, isn’t it?” I say.

“Yeah, that’s me” he says.

“We were wondering if you and your girlfriend Emily wanted to come over for soup on Sunday” Emily is a friend of ours from around.

“Yeah, we would like that!” Matt says.

“One more thing” I add “what is your favorite kind of soup?”

“Cream of broccoli” he answers.

The Stock

3 yellow onions, chopped (leave skins on)

3 cloves garlic chopped (leave skins on)

1 1/2 Tbsp salt

1 bunch celery, diced

1 bunch carrots, peeled and diced

1 parsnip, peeled and diced

¼ bunch Italian parsley, chopped

12 cups water

Heat 3 onions in 2 cups water. Add garlic and salt and simmer together while you prepare the remaining ingredients. Add remaining ingredients (omitting the parsley until the last 15 min) and simmer 1 hour uncovered. Strain.

The Roast

3 parsnips, peeled and chopped

2 yellow onions, peeled and sliced


2 Tbsp olive oil

6 cloves garlic (chop the tips off and leave in skins)

Mix ingredients together and roast at 400 degrees, covered for 25 min. Uncover and roast at 350 for an additional 15 min or until the garlic is caramelized.

The Soup

1 yellow onion, diced

½ bunch celery

2 bunches of broccoli


2 Tbsp ghee or unsalted butter

4-6 oz Gruyere cheese

In a soup pot, heat 2 Tbsp unsalted butter of ghee (if you use ghee there is less chance that you will burn the onions). Add yellow onion, celery and a pinch of salt. Cook a few min, then add roasted vegetables (make sure you remove the garlic skins). Add one bunch of broccoli, chopped and ¾ of the stock and simmer, covered, until the broccoli is cooked. Blend with a hand blender. Meanwhile, chop the second bunch of broccoli into bite sized pieces and simmer, covered, in a separate pot in remaining stock. Add the bite sized pieces of broccoli and stock to the soup blend so that your soup has larger pieces of broccoli in it. Add the cheese in slices.

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