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Creamy Broccoli Soup

 cups chopped fresh broccoli

7 cups cold water

1-2 tsp salt

2 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks

1 red onion, peeled and diced

1 clove of garlic, minced

3/4 cup half & half (optional)

freshly ground black pepper

Save a handful of the broccoli, then in a large saucepan place the chopped broccoli, potatoes, onions, and garlic. Add 7 cups of cold water, then season with 1-2 teaspoons of salt. I ended up using the full 2 teaspoons. Bring to a boil and if necessary skim the surface of the potato starch.  Lower the heat slightly, and simmer uncovered for about 35 minutes. Add the reserved handful of broccoli and simmer for another 10 minutes. The broccoli should be easy to squash on the side of the pan. 

Now puree the soup until smooth. I used a stick blender, since this is one of my favorite kitchen appliances. It is much quicker and less messy than using a blender. The soup should now be nicely thick, but if you find it too thick you can add some hot water until you reach your desired consistency. If it is too thin, then continue cooking it uncovered until the liquid is reduced. At this point, taste the soup and add more salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Now the soup can be served as is, or if you want a richer, creamier soup, swirl in half of the cream (or half & half) and heat through. Serve immediately. You can add another swirl of cream for looks, with some freshly ground pepper. Or you can sprinkle some grated cheddar cheese, then eat with a yummy crusty bread.

*Recipe Tip: Store leftovers tightly sealed in the refrigerator.  This soup tastes even better the next day, after the flavors have had time to settle in overnight.  This recipe makes a large batch of soup, so leftovers can be frozen.

* Slow Cooker: You can easily make this in your slow-cooker. Just add all the ingredients into your slow-cooker pot. Cook on low for 6-8 hours. When ready to eat, use a stick blender to puree the soup until smooth. Add more water to reach your desired consistency if desired. and salt/pepper to taste.