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The holidays have really taken their toll. I haven’t had time to think, much less update this here blog. But, the kids are all back in school, I’ve got more free time on my hands. So, I’ve done some cooking since my last post. Quite a bit actually. My latest feat, homemade cheddar broccoli soup and homemade bread bowls.

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Now, neither recipe is mine. I tweaked the soup recipe just a smidgen, but I will give credit where credit is due. It’s a fantastic recipe that my husband came across on The Curvy Carrot. It’s a delicious recipe. The only thing i changed was the method. Instead of stirring my flour into the liquids, I made a blonde roux. That’s it. Oh, and I did add just a tad more broccoli than called for, but that’s just because I love me some broccoli. The bread came from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe. I will add that I had to slather butter on my bowls at the end and put them under the broiler for a few minutes to get them to brown. But I’m totally okay with that. The bread was tasty and soft and held up wonderfully to the soup. Enjoy!

Broccoli Cheddar Soup

Servings: approximately 8 servings

Ingredients

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

1/2 small onion, chopped

1/4 cup flour

1 cup whole milk

1 cup heavy cream

3 cup vegetable broth (plus more if needed)

Pinch nutmeg

2 bay leaves

Salt and pepper, to taste

2 carrots, grated

4 cups broccoli florets

8 ounces sharp cheddar, cubed

Instructions

1. In a sauté pan over medium-high heat, melt the butter.

2. Add the onion and cook until translucent, about 4-5 minutes, stirring frequently.

3. Remove the onions from the heat and set aside.

Now, this is where we diverge. I made a blonde roux using 1/4 cup butter and 1/4 cup flour. To that I added the cream, milk and then the broth. Aside from this step, everything stays the same.

6. Add the nutmeg, bay leaves, and salt and pepper (to taste) and let the mixture simmer,uncovered, for about 20 minutes.

7. Add the cooked onions, broccoli, and carrot, mixing well.  Let simmer for another 20 minutes.

8.  Add the cheese and stir until completely melted, adding more broth if necessary.

Bread Bowls

*Makes 6-8 bread bowls

INGREDIENTS:
1 1/2 tablespoons active dry yeast (use 1 tablespoon instant yeast)
2 1/2 cups warm water
2 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
7 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon cornmeal

DIRECTIONS:
In a large bowl (or bowl of an electric mixer), dissolve yeast in warm water. Let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes. (You can omit this step if using instant yeast.)

Add salt, oil and 4 cups flour to the yeast mixture; beat well. Stir in the remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time, beating well with an electric mixer at medium speed after each addition until a soft but not sticky dough is formed (you may not need to use all 7 cups). This bread bowl dough needs to be a bit firmer than a roll/bread dough so that the bread bowls rise up instead of out.

When the dough has pulled together, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 6 minutes (or let knead in an electric mixer). Lightly oil a large bowl, place the dough in the bowl and turn to coat with oil. Cover with a damp cloth and let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 40 minutes. Punch dough down, and divide into 6-8 equal portions. Shape each portion into a round ball. Place loaves on lightly greased baking sheets sprinkled with cornmeal (or use silpat liners or parchment paper). If desired, slash the top surface of the bread bowl several times with a sharp knife or razor. Cover and let rise in a warm place, free from drafts, until doubled in bulk, about 35 minutes.

Preheat oven to 400. Bake for 15 – 18 minutes.

As I said, I had to slather on some butter and stick them under the broiler for a few minutes to get them nice and brown, but them not browning could be my error and not the recipe’s fault.

The important thing here is the end result, which was mmmmmmm delicious!

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