Some broccoli cheddar soups are just a sad bowl of nacho cheese with a few chunks of broccoli floating in it. For a more flavorful soup, the broccoli needs to be added in layers. Photo by J. Kenji López-Alt.
J. Kenji López-Alt at Serious Eats has soup trick that is guaranteed to elevate your own broccoli cheddar recipe. Instead of cooking up a cheesy, soupy roux and dumping broccoli in it, divide your broccoli and add its flavour to the soup in two ways. Start by cutting up a 680g of broccoli and separating the small florets and chopped stems. Add the florets to two tablespoons of oil in a dutch oven or pot at high heat. Let them char a little on the bottom, then stir so they char on the other side a bit as well and season them with salt. After a few minutes, dump them onto a baking sheet to cool. These flavorful florets will be what you add at the end.
Now you need to make your soup base, but you can use the broccoli stems to keep the cheesiness from totally overpowering the broccoli. Take the chopped up broccoli stems, cook them in the same pot that the florets were in with a little carrot and onion and blend them into your soup base. Now you have a delicious and balanced broccoli cheddar soup. You can find López-Alt’s full broccoli cheddar soup recipe at the link below.