Craving Simplicity: Winter Snow, Work Days, Warm Soup

This color reminds me of Spring
I don't know about you, but after a long, full day on the job, I look forward to something good to eat - but I am not usually in the mood to wait long for it. Week night food prep needs to be fast, because chances are good that by the time I get around to getting dinner together, I haven't eaten for 5 - 6 hours, and I am tempted to grab the nearest snack to settle the rumbling in my stomach. 30 minutes from start to finish - that's a good goal, and even better if most of that time is spent with something bubbling on the stove or cooking in the oven, while I wrap up my work day, check the mail, put stuff away, and beep-beep-beep!  the kitchen alarm announces that dinner is served.

Extra Sharp Cheddar adds zing
I like dinner prep to be fast - but I don't like Fast Food - that is, junk food. No pre-packaged, cook-it-up in the microwave, E-code filled, preservative loaded fare for me. I still want my dinner to be creative, colorful, and healthy.  I still want the table set - complete with a cloth napkin because I don't like the paper ones for home at all - and I prefer to enjoy whatever it is I'm eating with my husband, a friend, or both! Every dinner is a chance to slow down for a moment and enjoy life's simple pleasures,  and every meal I cook is a chance to experiment with flavor combinations and preparation methods.

It's winter, and baby, it's cold outside. I want soup. In fact, it's been snowing non-stop for days and days, and even after a quick loop out skiing on the trails behind our house, it's still soup I'm craving. Veggie soup - with a kick. So here we go:

Broccoflower Soup with Cheddar and Cumin

2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, diced
1 large garlic clove, minced

Heat the olive oil in a medium-sized stock pot over medium-high heat.  Saute the onion and garlic until tender and translucent, about 5 minutes.  Add 1 Tablespoon of flour and stir to combine.  

Stir in:
My inspiration
2 cups chicken broth
1 cup water

Stir with a wooden spoon to mix completely, then add:
3 cups of broccoflower, broken into florets (1 head of broccoflower)
1/8 teaspoon pepper flakes

Bring to boil, lower heat to a simmer, and let mixture bubble for 10 minutes or until the broccoflower is tender.  

Remove from heat and puree mixture with an immersion blender, or pour carefully into a stand blender and blend until smooth.  Add:

So simple, so delicious.
3/4 cup sharp cheddar, grated
1/2 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper (or to taste)
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 cup milk

Whisk until the soup is completely smooth.  Serve hot.

Serves 4.  Enjoy with fresh bread or good-quality crackers (suolakeksit tai näkkileivät).