Creamy Roasted Broccoli Bacon Soup
* 4 cups broccoli florets and stems, cleaned, cut into small pieces
* 2 carrots, peeled and dice
* 1 Tbsp olive oil
* 8 strips lean bacon
* 1 medium sweet onion, diced
* 2 ribs celery, diced
* 2 cloves garlic, minced
* 48 oz. chicken stock
* 2 bay leaves
* 2 tsp fresh thyme, chopped
* 2 tsp fresh marjoram, chopped
* 2 Tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
* 2 cups half and half
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Arrange the broccoli and carrots in a single layer on the baking sheet and drizzle with 1 Tbsp olive oil, mixing veggies a bit to coat.
2. Put in preheated oven and roast for 25 to 30 minutes, turning several times during cooking time, until tender and browned slightly; remove and set aside.
3. Meanwhile, fry bacon until crisp in a large soup pot over medium heat; remove to paper towels to drain. In same soup pot, add onion and celery and cook in the bacon drippings for 3 minutes or until soft. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly.
4. Add chicken stock, bay leaves, thyme, marjoram, parsley, and bring to a boil; turn to low and simmer for 10 minutes. Pull out bay leaves.
5. Add roasted broccoli and carrots to soup in pot, and continue simmering over low heat for 15 minutes or until vegetables are very soft. Remove from heat and allow to cool enough to handle.
6. Strain soup through sieve or colander (retaining liquid) and put solid veggies from colander into food processor. Add 2 cups reserved cooking liquid to food processor and blend until solids are smooth. Add more cooking liquid if necessary until you have a puree.
7. Return puree back to soup pot, pour reserved liquid in, and reheat over low heat only until hot; do not boil.
8. Remove from heat and stir in half and half. Serve immediately in soup bowls with added toppings if desired, like a dollop of sour cream, a sprinkling of crispy bacon bits, or fresh grated Parmesan cheese.
Roasting the broccoli and carrots is the first step to making this particular broccoli soup better than the others. The flavor is intensified so much more than just throwing them in a soup pot raw.
Then, of course, when you puree the soup, it makes the texture creamier and smoother. The half-and-half just pulls all the flavors together. Enjoy!