The broccoli we are most familiar with grows in a large crown of thickened, flowering shoots. After the initial cutting of the large head, there are several smaller shoots that continue to grow for subsequent pickings. Therefore, it is important to not cut the plant from ground level during any of the pickings. Broccoli is a very hardy, cold-weather crop that does well in both the spring and the fall, and can tolerate frost. The trick to growing full flowered heads is rich soil, plenty of water and nutrients, and cool temperatures. Broccoli is a great source of vitamins A and C as well as lesser amounts of vitamin B, calcium, and iron.
Both the stems and florets of broccoli can be enjoyed raw, often accompanied by a vegetable dip or used in salads. It can also be sauteed in a pan with oil for stir fries, steamed, or boiled in a pot of water until tender. Below is a delicious recipe for Broccoli Cheddar Cheese Soup. At the end of the recipe are alternate suggestions and a vegetarian option. This soup can stand on its own as a main course or act as a side dish.
Recipes: Broccoli Cheddar Cheese Soup
1/4 c butter*
1 onion diced medium
2 t garlic powder
1 bunch broccoli (about 1 1/4 lbs) washed and cut into bite-sized pieces
1 quart chicken broth**
1/2 c all-purpose flour
1 1/2 c whole or 2% milk***
salt to taste
8 oz shredded sharp cheddar cheese
Melt butter over medium heat in a stockpot. Cook onion in butter until softened. Add garlic and pepper, cook for 1 minute then stir in broccoli. Stir in chicken broth. Bring to a boil and simmer until broccoli is tender, about 10-15 minutes. Meanwhile whisk flour into milk until dissolved. Stir into soup, stirring frequently until thickened. Reduce heat and stir in cheese until melted and heated through. Season with salt to taste. Source: allrecipes.com
*Cooking oil may also be used
**Vegetable broth can easily replace chicken broth.
***For a richer soup, you can replace the milk with half and half or heavy cream.
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