Why doesn't anyone grow broccoli? Why is it hardly ever for sale at Cape Cod farmers markets? Why do my parents four hours north get it all the time in their CSA? Are any of you growing it? Is it terribly difficult? Is there a black market I'm missing?
Broccoli is one of the foods I miss most since I started trying to eat locally. This seems silly! We live in Climate Zone 7. Broccoli is a cold-loving crop, in the same family as cabbage and kale and turnips. I see plenty of those around, but I can count on three fingers the farmers I've run into selling broccoli. (Peter Fossel, Jeff Eldredge, and Andy Pollock, I'm looking at you.) Is it just not profitable? Is it too hard to grow? There must be a reason. If you know it, please. Enlighten me.
In the meantime, the Fedco catalog came in the mail the other day, and unless I hear a good reason not to, I will be ordering 1 gram of "Green King." According to the description, that should take care of my broccoli craving by September 2013.
Until then, I am cheating. We had a Wellfleet Farmers' Market potluck over here the other night, and Victoria brought a broccoli cheddar soup. We all made soups, in fact—so much that we were able to do a mini soup swap at the end—and I ended up with two pints of the cheddar broccoli. It was so green! So creamy! I couldn't get over the way the little florets—it was mostly pureed—sort of melted in with the cheese. I devoured it, and so did Sally, and the next day we loaded into the car and drove straight to Bradford Natural and caved. I bought two heads of the best broccoli I could find—organic, and grown in the United States—and dug out that recipe my mom's been telling me about from Heidi. I chopped potatoes. I minced garlic. I diced onions and thawed some homemade chicken stock and cut up a head of broccoli. I rummaged around in the fridge until I found a jar of good whole grain mustard, and then I grated a whole heap of sharp cheddar. I made the soup, and it was glorious.
So friends! Cape Codders! We need broccoli.
BROCCOLI CHEDDAR SOUP
As I mentioned up above, the original of this recipe comes from Heidi. I simplified a bit and added chicken stock, but for the most part, it's the same recipe. It's the perfect dinner for a busy week night—I made it in the morning, and Sally and I ate it for lunch and again for dinner with Alex. There were no leftovers.
2 tablespoons butter or olive oil or lard
1 medium onion, peeled and chopped
fine grain sea salt
1 and 1/2 cups 1/4-inch potato cubes (I did not peel mine)
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 and 1/2 cups good homemade chicken stock
1 large head broccoli, cut into small florets
1/3 cup grated cheddar, plus more for topping
2 teaspoons whole grain mustard
Melt the butter in a large soup pot over medium-high heat. Add the onions and a big pinch of salt and sauté, stirring occasionally, until the onions are tender and translucent. (About 8 minutes.) Stir in the potatoes, cover, and cook for another five minutes, until they start to get soft. Add the garlic, then the chicken stock. Bring to a boil and cook until the potatoes are tender—about 15-20 minutes. Stir in the broccoli and simmer another five minutes, or until tender.
At this point, the soup is still pretty chunky. Get out an immersion blender or transfer the whole soup to a blender or food processor and blend until there are still a few little chunks but the big florets and potato chunks are pureed. Add the cheese and mustard and stir well. Taste for salt and add some as needed, then serve hot with toast or croutons, grated cheddar, and a drizzle of olive oil.