Cream of Broccoli and Beyond

cr of broccoli and berbere

Well it IS Cream of Broccoli, but it also has onion, mushrooms, salsa, chicken breast, Cheddar cheese, and barley in it. The barley was a last-minute brainstorm. Gary loves barley, so . . . well, why not? Dump it on in! Turned out that the barley added nice body and texture to the soup while not overpowering it with its own flavor.

Just about any leftover vegetable could be put in. I had some cooked cabbage, but thought that might be too large, and I didn’t feel like shredding it at that point. We were too hungry to wait a lot longer. Anyway, I prefer cabbage in tomato-y soups, like minestrone.

The focaccia from last night, as usual, provided us with some nice, crunchy Italian breadsticks. A dollop of sour cream, and a shake of Berbere, and it was a lunch worth remembering.

As for that nutritious broth, I keep a plastic bag in the freezer and toss chicken bones into it. When there is a sufficient quantity to fill the Crock-Pot, I fire it up, fill it with boiling water, and let it go all night. I like to start with everything as hot as possible. Waiting for a Crock-Pot to bring several quarts of fluid and food to a boil can take a long time, and I like to get the temperature up to 160° as quickly as possible.

In the morning there is about half a gallon of exceptionally rich bone broth waiting to be strained out and stored in Mason jars for use over the next few days. I put it into the refrigerator while it is still warm, and the tops seal a little bit. Not enough to keep it fresh forever, but it helps to prolong the usable life of the broth while in the refrigerator. During its tenure in the refrigerator, it gets really, really thick and gelled.

We hope this goes directly to his bones to rebuild the holes that the cancer has drilled in there.

About judilyn

RV'er, foody, caregiver, knowledge seeker
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11 Responses to Cream of Broccoli and Beyond

  1. Judy Bell says:

    That soup looks delicious! I’m no chef, so I don’t know what Berbere is. I was recently given a bag of wild rice. Do you think that would work in this dish?


    • judilyn says:

      Berbere is a hot paprika-like spice. It’s more than just slightly hot; it has its own flavor. It’s a bit darker than regular paprika; and hotter than smoked paprika. Not Mexican-y like chili powder, but sort of a flavor of its own. I don’t much care for really hot foods, but this is nice in small quantities.

      Wild rice is splendid in soups, but goes better in a broth-based kind. It kind of gets lost in a cream soup like this one. But the same soup can be made with no milk and no flour; it just wouldn’t be “cream of” any more, and that is not a problem. I wouldn’t put the cheese in it with just a broth-y soup base, either.

      I bought a huge sack of wild rice many years ago, and it lasted for a long time. I put it in everything for a while, and really didn’t find anything that I wouldn’t have repeated. Hint: Cook the rice separately from the rest of the soup, and add it at the end only to the part that you are going to serve immediately. Almost any grain, rice, noodles, etc. continues to absorb the moisture from your soup when you refrigerate the leftovers, and then you have a glop of soaked-up starch instead of broth with other ingredients. Besides, despite what directions say, I have found that wild rice takes over an hour to cook entirely. You should be able to see the fluffy insides when it is ready to eat. Otherwise, the grains can be a bit “chewy”, and really not very palatable. Don’t be afraid to cook it far ahead of the time you need/want it, and then let it just sit quietly and warm for an additional fifteen or so minutes after you think it is done. It will soften up a bit more. Just be sure almost all of the water has already been absorbed.

      If you are going to reheat it, use a steamer if you have one. If you don’t, then use your best non-stick pan. I have found that the best way to keep rice (wild, or otherwise – or any kind of grain/starch) from sticking upon reheating is to use a really good pan. Put a couple of tablespoons of water in it and heat it up until it is very hot – watch it carefully so it doesn’t boil dry and scorch. When it is hot, put in a bit of ghee or even olive oil or butter and then your grain. Spray the top with a water sprayer (I keep one by the stove – it is indispensable!) to create a layer of steam, cover the pot and turn the fire off. This works beautifully for one to three servings. A large volume? Not so much.

      Obviously this works as well with heating up just about anything that isn’t really thick, and I find that the taste is so close to fresh that it is amazing. So much better than microwaving food! I use this method when boondocking on the road, of course, but at home, too, because the results are so superior.

      If you are careful, you can easily heat up a plate of food like this as quickly as doing it in the microwave. You just need to use a gentle touch with putting the different foods into the pan and then getting them out again and onto your plate.

      Leftovers are the bomb! ;->


  2. Such a nice, velvety soup – no doubt because of your chicken broth and barley. I’m sure it will help heal! 🙂
    I too love to finish soups with the beloved Berbere. It adds so much flavor and aroma.


    • judilyn says:

      We’re finding that the broth and the fat from the organic chickens are like night and day different from the “regular” chickens. The broth has a different “feel”, and the aroma as it heats is almost overpowering. I don’t put anything in with the bones – no leftover veggies or anything – just the bones. There is a LOT less fat to skim off the top after the broth has cooled, and I am keeping it to use in cooking. I don’t use a lot of it – maybe a tablespoon or two over the course of a week – but it brings an incredible richness to whatever I have cooked in it with just the merest dab.

      Very much worth the extra cost.


  3. gypsy97 says:

    I got as much info from your response to Judy as I did from the original post!


  4. Clanmother says:

    You always go “beyond….” My prayer is that is this Cream of Broccoli does go “directly to his bones to rebuild the holes that the cancer has drilled in there.”


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