Eat Your… Broccoli

Broccoli (Brassica oleracea var. italica)

So I skipped a week last week. It wasn’t planned, I promise; at the last minute, part of my graduate research took a nose dive and I had to take care of business. Everything is now back on track. Whew!

This week’s fall vegetable is broccoli. This is one food that’s a stickler for me. Personally, I hate raw broccoli — but I love it cooked. What’s your favorite way to eat broccoli? Leave a note in the comments!

History and Miscellany

Broccoli is a variety of the same plant species as green cabbage (article here). It’s also in the same Brassica plant family as collard greens and kale, which will be covered in subsequent articles. Broccoli originated more than 2,000 years ago in Italy with the Romans and the name itself derives from the latin word brachium which means “branch” or “arm”. In the United States it has been available commercially for less than 100 years.

There is usually only one variety sold here, known simply as broccoli or specifically as the dense-headed calabrese type. Other forms such as purple cauliflower broccoli, Romanesco broccoli, and broccoli sprouts can be found in specialty markets.

Remember this?

I do not like broccoli and I haven’t liked it since I was a little kid and my mother made me eat it. And I’m President of the United States and I’m not going to eat any more broccoli. Now look, this is the last statement I’m going to have on broccoli. There are truckloads of broccoli at this very minute descending on Washington. My family is divided. For the broccoli vote out there: Barbara loves broccoli. She has tried to make me eat it. She eats it all the time herself. So she can go out and meet the caravan of broccoli that’s coming in. — George H. W. Bush, 1990.

Uses

Most people eat the immature flower heads of broccoli but the stems and leaves are also quite good. It is usually cut into bite-sized chunks and served raw or cooked. Broccoli works wonderfully in soups, salads, casseroles, stir-fries, or as part of any vegetable medley.

My favorite way to eat broccoli is as the star ingredient in cream of broccoli soup. I guess it’s because this type of dish focuses solely on flavor and not texture. I love how the soup really brings out the rich, complex taste of broccoli and doesn’t muddle it with the addition of much else. Cooked broccoli is high in vitamins A, C, and K plus dietary fiber — so it’s as healthy as it tastes!

Here are some cream of broccoli soup recipes from around the web. I looked through each one and selected only what I think are the best. They all have something unique to offer.

Bitten Blog: Creamy Broccoli Soup — This one is the simplest recipe with the fewest ingredients.

Saffron Hut: Cream of Broccoli Soup — Another simple recipe with slightly different ingredients.

Got No Milk: Cream of Broccoli Soup (vegan) — Here is a vegan recipe with many ingredients and complex flavors.

Gone Raw: Cream of Broccoli Soup (vegan) — A completely uncooked, raw recipe. Interesting!

Vegalicious: Broccoli Soup With Wild Mushrooms (vegan) — Proving that broccoli soup makes a great base for other ingredients, too.

Photo below courtesy of Flickr user bookgrl.

broccoli soup

See you next week!

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Ben is a graduate student at NCSU studying Crop Science with an emphasis on Sustainable Agriculture. Official foodie credentials are non-existent, other than the fact that he has been cooking for himself since he was 12 years old. You can find his personal blog at bengarland.com, photos and videos at bengarland’s Flickr photostream, and his plans for a self-constructed cob house and organic farm over at Our Farm Adventure (still a very new work in progress).