Spring greening: Lively Broccoli Mint Soup

by Terry B on April 29, 2009

Mint and a drizzle of curried yogurt give healthy, creamy [but cream-free] Broccoli Mint Soup the vibrant, fresh taste of spring. Serving it room temperature makes for an elegant, surprising first course. Recipe below.

broccoli-mint-soup

Sometimes watching television can be good for you. On a recent Saturday morning, I was flipping through the channels trying to get a weather forecast [answer—it started raining as we pulled out of our parking place later that morning]. Suddenly, I saw someone cooking and was of course immediately glued to the set [we don't have cable, so moments like this are rare for me]. It was New York chef Paul Liebrandt making a version of this lively, lowfat soup on the Early Show on CBS.

Chef at the critically acclaimed Tribeca restaurant Corton, Liebrandt has been branded both a tempestuous diva of the old school and an English wunderkind, by the same publication, no less. On the Early Show, he seemed gracious and poised as they hurried him through three dishes in what seemed like 2.3 minutes. The soup was the one that caught my eye. Broccoli is one of those insanely good for you cruciferous vegetables. The problem with most creamy soups made from broccoli is that they’re loaded with cream—or cheese. Delicious, of course, but suddenly less healthy. This soup is broccoli, water, mint, salt and pepper, with a lively flavor boost from a swirl of lowfat curried yogurt with lime zest.

Marion is fond of quoting Robert DeNiro’s character in the thriller Ronin. He’s part of a crew that’s supposed to take something from some really bad men who really don’t want it taken from them. He insists on doing reconnaisance on the attack point and is told they already have a map. To which he says, “The map is not the territory.” The soup Liebrandt described as he made it on TV was not the recipe posted on the CBS website. I took that as license to put my own spin on it. Well, my spin aided by Marion.

When we started talking about the soup, she remembered a broccoli soup she’d made years ago that was falling absolutely flat. In desperation, she added fresh mint. Instant transformation. I wasn’t skeptical, even for a moment. I knew right away that mint would be part of this soup. This being a new recipe—and one I was freely riffing on—we stood in the kitchen, sampling from the food processor and tweaking. We tasted it first without the mint. Good. Healthy. But when the mint was added, magic happened. Suddenly, we were tasting spring—or summer, even.

Broccoli Mint Soup
Makes about 4 cups, 4 first course servings [see Kitchen Notes]

1 pound broccoli, roughly chopped, about 6 cups [can include stems]
4 cups water
1 tablespoon fresh mint, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons yogurt [see Kitchen Notes]
2 tablespoons buttermilk [see Kitchen Notes]
1/2 teaspoon garam masala [or curry powder—see Kitchen Notes]
zest of 1 lime
salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

Bring water to a boil in a large covered saucepan. Lightly salt water, add broccoli and cover pot. Cook broccoli for 5 minutes. Drain broccoli, reserving cooking water, and let cool slightly.

Transfer broccoli to food processor, add 2 cups of cooking water and purée for 1 to 2 minutes. Scrape down sides of processor bowl, add mint and continue to blend until smooth. Some recipes caution against blending too much. Not this one—blend the bejesus out of it, to make it nice and creamy. There will still be a slight texture to it when you’ve finished. That’s fine. Set aside and let cool to room temperature.

Mix together yogurt, buttermilk, garam masala or curry powder and lime zest. Ladle soup into serving bowls, drizzle with yogurt mixture and serve immediately.

Kitchen Notes

How many servings? This recipe will make four small first course servings, a nice, fresh start to a meal. Or it can serve two generously as a lunch or dinner with a sandwich—with possible leftovers.

Yogurt and buttermilk. The original recipe called for plain yogurt. During the TV preparation, someone threw out the term Greek yogurt. I went with that. Delicious but way too thick. So I thinned it with equal parts buttermilk. If you use regular yogurt, use less buttermilk, adding it gradually until you reach a consistency that will easily pour from the spoon for drizzling on soup before serving.

Garam masala. While it’s primarily thought of as a Northern Indian spice mix, garam masala is actually used throughout South Asia and varies by region. It doesn’t scream Indian food and it doesn’t pack much in the way of heat, but it adds a delicious spiciness. You can find it in the spice aisle of many supermarkets or in Indian grocery stores. The Spice House also sells it in their stores and online. Wherever you get it, read the ingredients. If salt is too high up the list, don’t get it—some we’ve tried are waaaay too salty. If you’re adventurous and would like to make your own, here’s a recipe at food-nepal.com. If you can’t find garam masala, you can substitute curry powder. The original recipe suggested Madras curry powder, but I would go for one with less heat—you don’t want fire to get in the way of the freshness of the mint and broccoli.

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{ 32 comments… read them below or add one }

Christina April 29, 2009 at 5:49 am

Wow, the addition of garam masala really turns broccoli soup on its head, in a good way. This is a play-inspiring recipe. Thank you.

Ramya April 29, 2009 at 10:31 am

Wow, looks so colorful and healthy!

altadenahiker April 29, 2009 at 7:32 pm

Too healthy. I’m adding ham and chicken stock and cream and …

Terry B April 29, 2009 at 7:40 pm

Christina—We love cooking with garam masala, and the lime zest was a nice, lively touch to the yogurt too. But I have to tell you, the mint made all the difference in the world with this soup.

Thanks for stopping by, Ramya!

Now, altadenahiker… you remember what happened last time! [Don't even know what that means, but you just bring out the junior high principal in me sometimes.]

altadenahiker April 29, 2009 at 7:57 pm

… and anchovies

Laura April 29, 2009 at 8:39 pm

There are few things in life that mint doesn’t improve…potatoes, peas, the list goes on…you’ve given me an excellent lunch option!

Kasey April 29, 2009 at 9:07 pm

What a lovely blog! I’m so glad I stumbled across it. The color of that soup is just spectacular. So Spring-y.

Toni April 29, 2009 at 11:57 pm

Any soup made with buttermilk and mint has my immediate vote!

Terry B April 30, 2009 at 3:55 am

altadenahiker—Now you’re just being silly.

Laura—Yep, just add a small sandwich and you’re set.

Thank you, Kasey! And welcome to Blue Kitchen.

Toni—Both ingredients have their proponents, but I’ll bet that’s the first time that particular statement has ever been uttered.

Carolyn April 30, 2009 at 3:29 pm

Yeah, well, you wouldn’t be muttering at altadenahiker if she’d mentioned adding bacon!

Terry B April 30, 2009 at 3:31 pm

You know me too well, Carolyn.

Terry B April 30, 2009 at 10:39 pm

And by the way, Carolyn, I just read on New York magazine’s food and restaurant blog, Grub Street, that after two years of recipe testing, Seattle company Black Rock Spirits has officially launched Bakon Vodka: “Pure. Refreshing. Bacon.” Or as the Grub Street headline so beautifully put it, “Public’s Demand for Bacon Vodka Will Soon Be Satisfied.”

Lydia May 1, 2009 at 4:34 am

A fun tidbit, apropos of nothing: DeNiro is part owner of Corton!

Terry B May 1, 2009 at 5:14 am

How funny, Lydia. Of course, I think there’s a local ordinance in Manhattan that DeNiro is automatically granted part ownership in any business in Tribeca.

Gabe May 1, 2009 at 4:03 pm

I plan on making this for lunch or dinner today. I’m skeptical about the flavor combination but it sounds so refreshing on a day like this. Would you suggest a complimentary side dish or protein with this?

Terry B May 1, 2009 at 4:16 pm

Gabe—Trust me, the mint is what makes this dish [I'm assuming that's the cause for the skepticism]. Regarding protein, we had the soup as a first course, then had pan roasted pork chops with a little rosemary. Roasted potatoes would make a nice side if you wanted to have everything together. But it’s really just a nice, refreshing soup that isn’t overly assertive, so it would play well with just about anything. Chicken breasts, fish, mashed potatoes… I wouldn’t be overly concerned about having a green vegetable—it would almost be redundant with this green soup. If you’re having this for lunch, add a sandwich and you’re done!

Kim, Ordinary Recipes Made Gourmet May 1, 2009 at 11:58 pm

“Oh what lovely green color this soup is!” It calls to me to go grab a spoon and a bowl!

Allison Lemons May 3, 2009 at 6:00 am

I made broccoli soup recently, but it was definitely not as feisty as this recipe. I love that it has lime and garam masala – what a combination! Another great post, can’t wait to try it.

Morgan May 3, 2009 at 7:30 pm

I was given a link to an aggregate recipe site, which is how I came upon this recipe/blog. Do you know which it may be? I can’t find the original site and it was awesome. The page almost looks like a collection of polaroid pictures.

CookingSchoolConfidential.com May 4, 2009 at 1:51 am

It’s the color that got me – such an inviting shade (and it really says spring, doesn’t it?).

Now, if we add some creme fraiche and … well, what did you expect? I’m a culinary school student!

Thanks for the recipe.

Cheers.

Terry B May 4, 2009 at 2:43 am

Awwww… Thanks, Kim!

Allison—Having enjoyed the leftovers with lunch yesterday, I think the best description of the flavor is fresh and refreshing. I’m looking forward to serving this soup as a first course for a summer dinner party.

Morgan—Sorry, I’m not sure what page you’re talking about. Got a link you can send me?

Thanks, CookingSchoolConfidential! And welcome to Blue Kitchen.

Morgan May 4, 2009 at 3:15 pm

No link – that’s what I’m looking for (sorry, my message wasn’t clear). The site was so fabulous, but I didn’t save the URL. Drat!

Morgan May 4, 2009 at 3:25 pm

I FOUND IT!

http://www.tastespotting.com/

Ah … success …

Carey May 4, 2009 at 5:04 pm

Loved this- but I can never seem to follow directions so… some of my changes were to cook the broccoli in chicken broth- and I added chopped scallions to the bowl for garnish. I am not a big fan of curry so I lightened that up by dashing in some basil, coriander, and cumin instead. Ok, so I changed it a lot but I love the inspirations from here!
How about lemon zest?:-)
Thanks for making new ideas happen in my kitchen!

Terry B May 4, 2009 at 5:44 pm

Hi, Morgan—Yeah, TasteSpotting is a great source of inspiration, for cooks and bloggers alike. And more than a few people have made their way to Blue Kitchen from there. A big shout out to Sarah and the whole TasteSpotting crew for keeping it going.

Carey—I love that you took the original soup and ran with it. Nice call on the scallions. The only reason I skipped broth for my version was to keep the flavor as “springy” as possible, refreshing and light. And lemon zest is always a nice, bright touch, but I think the lime zest in this case maybe played a little better with the mint.

Sharona May May 4, 2009 at 11:39 pm

Wow! Looks great. I have never mixed those flavors together but you make it look like it is great.

Sharona May

Susan from Food Blogga May 5, 2009 at 5:28 pm

You’re so right about the high fat content in most creamed soups. Yogurt and buttermilk are ideal substitutes. Plus, they add add their own unique tang.

Ana May 9, 2009 at 11:51 pm

This definetly sounds like an interesting mix. What does the Broccoli Mint Soup taste like?

Daniel B May 23, 2010 at 6:19 pm

This recipe sounds VERY good, and we are considering it for an event as well as in the cafe. Anyone have a nutritional breakdown for the recipe? Thanks for posting it.

Carey May 23, 2010 at 6:45 pm

This is a really good place to work with nutritional information for any recipe.

http://caloriecount.about.com/cc/recipe_analysis.php?process+resubmit&count=36

Daniel B May 23, 2010 at 7:01 pm

Carey, WOW!!! That is an amazing calorie count website! THANK YOU VERY MUCH!!!

Daniel B May 23, 2010 at 7:07 pm

Also, I knew about http://www.nutritiondata.com/, but it just does individual ingredients. Very good resource as well. Thanks again, Daniel

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