Garlicky Cream of Broccoli Soup

Excellent for beginners, great for people who are on a time crunch to savor that lusciously rich, slow-cooked taste with only 15 minutes of work. Serves 2-4.

1 cup small broccoli florets
2 cups chopped broccoli stalk and bigger florets
1/2 small onion, quartered - optional
4 giant cloves of garlic
1 pint half and half (or whole milk, but it's only 99 cents and well worth it!)
1 can (10 oz) condensed cream of celery soup
1 cup grated extra sharp cheddar (or really, any cheese)
salt and pepper to taste
a pinch of nutmeg (seriously)

To start, bring a well salted pot of water to a boil and toss in the 2 cups of roughly chopped broccoli, the chopped onion, and 2 cloves of garlic. Boil on high until the stalk pieces are fork tender and scoop out and blend in a food processor until smooth. Save 2 cups of the pot water and dump the rest.

In the same pot, mix the can of cream of celery and the carton of half and half. Add the blended vegetables and stir on medium heat. Mince (don't food processor it- no matter how tempted you are) the other two cloves of garlic and toss in. Add in the cheese and stir. As it bubbles away, periodically add the saved pot water to keep it from getting too thick. I used about a cup and saved the other cup to add when I boiled the soup again later for leftovers.

Remember to keep tasting as you stir so you can flavor it with salt and pepper accordingly. I did add quite a bit of salt and pepper, but I find broccoli usually requires more salt than most veggies do and I just plain old love pepper. Add the nutmeg and cover and let simmer on very low heat for however long you want. I let mine sit on low for 45 minutes since we were in no hurry and it was amazing. Serve with crusty sourdough bread!

Look Paula Deen, no butter! I love butter, but why add it when you can't even taste it in the end? This soup is plenty rich and flavorful without any. The nutmeg saves the soup from tasting too vegetable-y and gives it the right amount of fall spice. You can't taste the nutmeg too much, but it definitely makes a difference.

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