Blending broccoli creates a wonderfully satisfying, healthy and creamy soup – although this soup actually doesn’t contain any cream. Instead, it gets its great creamy texture from potatoes.
Research shows that broccoli may help prevent cancer, but its effectiveness is linked to how it is cooked. The reason is that broccoli contains an enzyme called myrosinase that can activate sulforaphane, a compound that has anti-cancer properties. Cooking methods like boiling and microwaving, however, destroy myrosinase. So how you prepare it can help broccoli protect you.
The best way to preserve myrosinase is to lightly steam broccoli for no more than 3 to 5 minutes. However, when making creamy broccoli soup, myrosinase is destroyed during the simmering time. But research shows that by adding a new source of myrosinase in the same meal, the sulforaphane in overcooked broccoli can be revived. That’s why we are using tiny flower buds of broccoli to garnish the soup, instead of parsley. The finely chopped broccoli buds are pretty and purposeful!
So from now on, when making broccoli soup or cooking broccoli in ways other than a short steam, save a small floret or two to trim the flower buds and sprinkle them on cooked broccoli. You’ll also be glad to know that broccoli’s beneficial fiber, other phytonutrients and minerals do survive the cooking process.
Serve this soup with a Portobello “burger” and you have a great meal. Simply sauté the large mushroom cap. Then place it on some lightly toasted multigrain bread and stack it with lettuce, sliced tomatoes and some Dijon mustard. The myrosinase in mustard also revives the sulforaphane in cooked broccoli.
Creamy Broccoli Soup
2 tsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 medium stalks celery, finely chopped
2 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed
4 cups chopped fresh broccoli, including stems (about 2 lbs.), set aside one floret
2½ cups low-sodium, low-fat chicken broth (vegetable broth may be substituted)
1 cup unsweetened almond milk (optional, if not used then increase broth to 3½ cups)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup low-fat feta cheese, optional
In large pot, heat oil over medium heat. Sauté onion and celery 4-5 minutes until softened. Add potatoes and broccoli, sauté additional 2 minutes. Add broth and milk and bring to boil. Salt and pepper to taste. Reduce heat, cover and simmer 20 minutes or until vegetables are tender.
While soup is simmering, with knife trim tiny broccoli flower buds from broccoli floret and set aside.
Pour soup into blender and puree until very smooth. Divide soup in four individual serving bowls. Garnish soup with broccoli buds and feta cheese if using.
Makes 6 servings.
Per 1½ cup serving: 117 calories, 4 g total fat (1 g saturated fat), 16 g carbohydrate, 6 g protein, 1 g dietary fiber, 157 mg sodium.
The American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) is the cancer charity that fosters research on the relationship of nutrition, physical activity and weight management to cancer risk, interprets the scientific literature and educates the public about the results. It has contributed more than $96 million for innovative research conducted at universities, hospitals and research centers across the country. AICR has published two landmark reports that interpret the accumulated research in the field, and is committed to a process of continuous review. AICR also provides a wide range of educational programs to help millions of Americans learn to make dietary changes for lower cancer risk. Its award-winning New American Plate program is presented in brochures, seminars and on its website, www.aicr.org. AICR is a member of the World Cancer Research Fund International.