Cream of Broccoli Leaf Soup
When I first started growing broccoli, I couldn’t believe how big each plant got and how much space this crop took up in my garden! I had always just bought my broccoli from the store (often just the crowns), so I had no real concept of what an entire broccoli plant even looked like.
So when it came time to harvest our first broccoli crop, I was a bit sad that so much of the plant went to waste when we harvested just the broccoli floret in the middle. The bulk of the plant was made up by the leaves, and as far as I knew at that time, the leaves weren’t edible.
Fast forward a few years later and I now know that broccoli leaves are not only edible, they’re delicious (and packed full of nutrients too). They taste pretty much just like the broccoli florets with just a leafier, um, texture. Sort of like kale. They’re fantastic sautéed up, dried and turned into powder or blended into this alternative take on cream of broccoli soup. And the best part is, I no longer waste half of my broccoli crop to the compost! No sir. We eat every edible part of the plant from the florets to the stalks to the leaves.
This is by far my favourite way to enjoy broccoli leaves. I used to make cream of broccoli soup all the time (and I still do), but now I prefer to use the leaves if possible to make them stretch in this soup and use the florets in other ways. And it’s hard to even tell the difference between the standard cream of broccoli soup and this cream of broccoli leaf soup. In fact, I served it to my husband Ryan last night and he didn’t even notice I’d used leaves instead of florets.
But the biggest win for me is that my two-year-old daughter loves this soup so much she begs for more. Which is HUGE considering we are right in the thick of the “vegetable phobia” stage of life. She wouldn’t touch a broccoli leaf if I sautéed it and served it to her whole or in a stir-fry, but she loves the flavour of this soup and the broccoli leaves are blended right in so she’s oblivious to the fact that she’s actually eating vegetables.
But what to do if you don’t grow your own broccoli? Where do you go to find broccoli leaves?
Well, since there’s still some strange stigma that the leaves are somehow inferior to the florets, most markets discard them, which means you might be able to get your hands on some for free.
Related: How to Grow Broccoli From Seed
My local farm market has a bin labeled “greens” beneath the broccoli display, where shoppers discard the broccoli leaves they pull off of the florets. Last year I asked if I could have them and they were more than happy to give them to me for free. So go ahead and ask at your local market! Otherwise you’re just going to have to grow your own (which I always encourage).
Broccoli can be grown as a summer or fall crop, so chances are you could be harvesting some from your own garden in just a few months if you get started now.
If you’re really hard-pressed to find leaves, you can always sub out the leaves in this recipe for regular broccoli florets. This soup is delish either way. But if you are looking for a way to use up those broccoli leaves and let nothing go to waste, this is the recipe for you!
Cream of Broccoli Leaf Soup
- 1 large bunch of broccoli leaves (healthy leaves from about 3 or 4 plants) or approx. 8 cups chopped leaves
- 3 quarts of chicken stock (or substitute veggie stock)
- 1 onion, diced
- 2 celery sticks, chopped, ends discarded
- 1 cup of butter, divided (½ cup for sautéing veggies and ½ cup to make a roux)
- 4 cups heavy cream
- 1 cup of flour
- salt & pepper to taste
- shredded cheddar cheese to top
- First, make your soup broth if you’re making it from scratch. Otherwise dump 3 quarts of chicken or vegetable stock in a large stainless steel pot and bring to a simmer. Meanwhile, melt a couple tablespoons of butter in a pan and get ready to sauté your vegetables.
- Discard any brown or yellowing broccoli leaves and chopping off any rough, hard ends on the stalks. Chop broccoli leaves into small enough pieces to sauté in a pan and set aside. Chop and discard celery ends and then roughly chop your celery and onion. Add celery and onion to the pan with your melted butter and sauté until translucent but not brown. Add cooked celery and onions to your broth.
- Add another tablespoon of butter to your pan and a handful or two of chopped broccoli leaves and a pinch of salt. Cover with a lid to help steam and sauté on medium heat until leaves are wilted and stalks are tender, then add them to your broth. Continue to do this with the leaves, sautéing in batches until they’ve all been cooked and added to your broth.
- Using an immersion blender, blend your soup together until there are no large chunks of vegetables left. If you don’t have an immersion blender, you can use a regular blender. Just be careful not to fill it too full as it could overflow when the hot liquid and veggies are blended together.
- Next, make your roux. (A roux is simply a thickener for soups and stews made from butter and flour). Melt ½ cup of butter over medium-low heat in a saucepan. Add 1 cup of flour and whisk together, stirring constantly. Add cream, one cup at a time, whisking briskly until ingredients are well combined and mixture is more or less smooth. Continue doing this until you’ve added all 4 cups of cream. Then add your roux to your soup and stir well to combine. Bring soup back up to a simmer for a few minutes and allow it to thicken.
- Turn heat off and add salt and pepper to taste. Serve hot topped with a little shredded cheddar cheese.
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Could this be made dairy free and gluten free , using potatoes to thicken and make creamier?
Can I use corn starch instead of flour? Gluten really upsets my stomach 🙁
You could certainly use corn starch in this recipe but you will not get the same consistency of the soup as Anna did. And you would need to do the slurry method (corn starch in cool water and then add to your soup) as cornstarch isn’t a good substitute in a roux.
But, you can use your favorite gluten free flour for the roux which usually works at a one-to-one ratio with regular flour. I have done that a time or two for my daughter and it has worked, giving a good “roux like” consistency in other dishes.
Hi there, have you ever frozen this soup?
Generally, freezing soups with cream in them tend to not freeze well from a quality stand point. The cream can separate, clump, or change its texture and taste when frozen. When I want to freeze some extra soup from a big batch, I will remove the amount I want to freeze before adding the creamy part. And then when I reheat it, I add the creamy bit so it tastes good.
The same is true for freezing a soup with pasta…. it is better to freeze the soup without the pasta. Adding pasta/noodles when reheating works best.
Any chance you could amend your recipe to have an approx weight of the broccoli leaves? Or x number of cups? Since I am not growing the broccoli but relying on farmers markets I have no idea if the amount I have is close. I also don’t know how much florets to use if I sub out the leaves (or to supplement the little leaves I have).
And 3 quarts broth plus a quart of cream? I guess this makes a bunch? 🙂
I would estimate it at about 8 cups of chopped, packed leaves. Probably around 12 to 16 leaves or so, depending on size. If subbing florets, go for about the same amount (8 cups chopped florets or thereabouts).
And yes, when I make soup I make a vat! This actually freezes pretty well too, even with the cream, although you could always add the cream in later. Or you can halve the recipe too:)