Best Broccoli Cheese Soup Ever
-1 large yellow sweet onion
-4 tbs (1/2 stick) butter
-1 tsp garlic powder
-1 or 2 tsp salt
-1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
-2 (14 oz) cans chicken or veggie broth OR 3-1/2 cups water
-1 (1- or 2-oz) packet dehydrated vegetable soup/dip/recipe mix
-2 (10-oz) packages frozen creamed (or regular) spinach
-3 cups (or more) whole milk
-1 or 2 large fresh broccoli crowns
-At least 8 oz (2 cups) processed American or Velveeta-type cheese, chopped or shredded
Begin by dicing a large, sweet yellow onion. Heat a large nonstick pot over medium-high heat with butter and throw in the onion pieces. Sprinkle with garlic, salt, and cayenne pepper (optional). Stir often until onions are transparent and begin to carmelize.
Next, add broth (or substitute 3-1/2 cups water) and bring to simmer. Empty contents of vegetable recipe mix (like Lipton or Knorr) into simmering stock and reduce heat to MEDIUM or MEDIUM-LOW. Simmer about 5-7 minutes.
Meanwhile, microwave-thaw frozen spinach; add to the simmering pot and stir.
Measure about 3 cups whole milk and add slowly to the soup. Make sure heat is below the MEDIUM mark to avoid scorching or pan-sticking. Add additional milk if you like. Allow slow simmer to return to pot.
Chop fresh broccoli crowns into small florets, being careful to discard any parts of stem that are tough or dry. Add the chopped broccoli to the soup and cover pot with lid, reducing heat to LOW. Simmer ten minutes or until broccoli is bright in color and beginning to soften.
Sprinkle 8 ounces (about 2 cups) shredded American or Velveeta-type processed cheese into pot. Stay nearby for several minutes, stirring often and increasing heat slightly if cheese is not melting totally. If desired, additional amounts cheese may be added to thicken the soup or enhance flavor. Add additional milk if soup becomes too thick.
The important thing is to keep the finished soup uncovered over heat and stir often to allow for an even melt and promote escaping steam to make soup thicker and more concentrated. If serving some right away, leave the rest of the pot uncovered on the stove over LOW heat for up to 2-3 hours more, stirring occasionally, to thicken the leftovers before refrigeration. Keep in mind that when leftovers are covered for reheating, they can get runny again with moisture, so a thick soup base is key.
I like to transfer the leftovers to the Crock Pot and take it to work the next day. Serve with warm French bread or Club crackers to appreciative masses.