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Can someone recommend the best way to keep my (cream-based) broccoli soup from turning brown?

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Corn starch? Steaming? Tips on a specific method would be much-appreciated.

When I follow the basic Bittman cream-vegetable soup recipe -- simmering in stock -- it always ends up brownish. Tastes ok but unappetizing appearance.

Thx for the help.

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  1. How much time between makeing the soup and serving the soup? I think the broccoli would change colour over time. I would also suggest not over cooking. Also, I don't use (brown) stock, I use plain water with herbs. The stock must turn your soup brown.

    1. I've made cream of broccoli soup many times using a recipe that calls for chicken stock and it's never had anything but a light green color. I agree; the brown must be coming from the stock you're using.

      1 Reply
      1. re: grampart

        my chicken stock is often brown because of the roasted bones and the onion skins.

      2. I'm not familiar with Bittman's recipe. If you saute onions first, don't let them get too brown. I usually use chicken stock, cook the stems and a few florettes first, scoop them and the onions out and puree, cook the remaining florettes just until tender-crisp, add the puree in and cream if I want it at that point. It's always been a nice green.

        1. I make cream of broccoli soup, one of my favorites. It has never turned brown. I don't know what the bittman recipe is, but I have always made mine with a little buttermilk, and lemon juice. I steam the brocolli, and ice bath it to keep the color. I also use chicken broth not stock meaning, not with roasted bones.
          I make it from a whole chicken, and its cooked stove top with carrot, onion and celery....hope that helps you.
          If you wanted more onion, saute til translucent, but the soup is about the brocolli. So I usually don't add more onion other than what flavored the chicken broth.
          Puree everything add a little buttermilk and lemon juice, and then cream.
          Also, to lighten the soup up make the base with leek and a potato, that works a little differently than cream, still add the lemon juice and the buttermilk, but it will be nice and thick without the fat.

          ps. When I say a little bit, that would be about 1 T of fresh lemon juice, and 1/4 cup buttermilk. I like the freshness and tangy taste with my creamy brocolli soup..and don't forget to add the nutmeg, a few grinds of fresh nutmeg will make all the difference!

          1. Try adding a handful of raw spinach leaves (young) when you blend the cooked broccoli and broth together. It may sound unappetizing but it does add a gorgeous green colour to your soup and it does not seem to affect the flavour.

            1. Here's my recipe. Give it a try.

              Cream of Broccoli Soup

              1 bunch (about 1-1/4 pounds) fresh broccoli
              4 Tbsp butter
              6 Tbsp flour
              5 cups chicken broth
              1/2 cup heavy cream
              1/2 cup milk
              1/2 tsp grated nutmeg
              Cayenne pepper (optional or to taste)

              1. Trim enough of the top clusters of the bunch of broccoli to fill a 1 cup measure. This will be used as a garnish for the soup. Cut the rest into 2 inch pieces. Peel the large stalks and cut in half or quarters.

              2. Place the larger broccoli pieces (not the garnish) in a deep skillet or saucepan and add water to cover and salt to taste. Cook for about 5 minutes, or until crisp-tender. DO NOT overcook. Similarly, cook the garnish in boiling salted water for about 2 minutes. Drain both batches and set aside.

              3. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a saucepan and add the flour, stirring with a wire whisk. When blended, add chicken broth, stirring with the whisk. Cook, stirring, until thickened and smooth. Add the large broccoli pieces (not the garnish) and simmer, stirring now and then, for about 10 minutes.

              4. Ladle the soup, solids and all, into a food processor or blender. This will have to be done in 2 or 3 steps. Blend until smooth. Return this mixture to a saucepan (strain if you want) and bring to the boil. Add salt and pepper to taste. Added the cooked garnish, heavy cream, milk, nutmeg, and a touch of cayenne pepper. Stir to blend and serve hot.

              1. Is it possible that the broccoli is a tad overcooked? If your stock is not brown enough to cause the problem, and you have added nothing else that could cause the color, this is the only thing I can think of that might cause the problem

                1 Reply
                1. re: The Old Gal

                  I think I might have overcooked the broc, and my stock could easily be too brown. (often homemade w/ a roast chk carcass) I'll try to make some clearer stock. Also seems like steaming might help.

                  Thanks for all the tips!