Lenten Recipes: Broccoli Cheese Soup

Saturday, February 9, 2013

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I am so glad Lent is right around the corner - I could use a little spiritual kick in the pants right now.  I'm excited to start reading a couple of good Catholic books through the 40 days, we'll listen to The Way of the Cross in the car (skip the last track until Easter - yikes!), and I'm hoping to steal some of Kendra's ideas for observing Lent with children (I particularly like the beans and counting to 40 before beginning each meal), among other things.

One big sacrifice we make during Lent is abstaining from meat every day, not just Fridays.  I think we started doing this together our first year of marriage?  I had been doing it for a while, but it's honestly that big a sacrifice for me since I don't like meat all that much.  It is MUCH more difficult for Andrew, who would eat meat, meat, and more meat for every meal if he could.  But abstaining from meat throughout Lent has several key benefits:

1. We never forget to abstain on Fridays! 
2. We save a lot of money on food, and should probably remember to set that money aside and donate it this year.
3. It makes me meal plan in advance
4  It's just plain healthier!

So I've got a big old list of Lenten stand-bys at this point, but I'd love to hear what you cook up on Fridays (or all through Lent)!

Here's a partial list of some of our favorites (and a longer list here):

Lentil soup
Baked potato soup
Potato & corn chowder
Baked ravioli
Gnocchi w/butter & sage sauce and caprese salad
Turkeyless Thanksgiving - just a bunch of our favorite side dishes as a meal
Tomato soup & grilled cheese
Lentil shepherd's pie
Cheese stuffed shells
Cheese lasagna
Veggie fried rice w/egg drop soup
Roasted veggie quesadillas with spanish rice and kidney beans
Broccoli & cheese soup
Mac & cheese and green beans
Pesto polenta bake
(Can you see how heavily we rely on dairy?  Some day when I'm neither pregnant nor nursing, we're going vegan for Lent.  I think it's going to be the hardest thing I ever do!)

Edit:  Also cheese fondue, but only after the kids are in bed...  And frittatas.  And pizza.

I'm going to share a few of my favorite recipes because they all share the following characteristics:

-  Can either be made *way* ahead or super-quickly
-  Easy to eat one-handed (because many of us are nursing a baby or two during dinner)
-  Tasty!

So here's my recipe for Broccoli Cheese Soup:

1/2 large onion, diced
4 tbsp butter
1-3 cups cooked broccoli, as much as you happen to have leftover in the fridge
6-8 small-medium potatoes (3-4 cups peeled & cubed)
4 cups chicken broth
Heavy cream
Various cheeses, 1-2 cups total
Salt & pepper to taste
Green onions & grated cheese to garnish
Bread for dipping
(you could probably add a bunch of chopped spinach or other cooking greens - THAW AND DRAIN if it's frozen first, otherwise you'll end up with really watery soup.  Andrew hates it when I sneak tons of spinach into things, so I skipped it)

1.  Sautee onions in butter until soft (still eating meat?  Cook up some bacon, set aside as a garnish, sautee onion in the fat).  Add chicken broth (or veggie or beef - super-easy to make in the instant pot, and if you strain through this you won't end up with any chunks, so it'll still satisfy the meatless requirement) and bring to a boil.
2.  Add potatoes, simmer 15 minutes until soft. 

--You can do steps 1 & 2 ahead of time whenever the kids happen to be napping and just leave it on the stove until about 15 minutes before dinner--

3.  Mash potatoes to desired consistency - maybe you want a lot of lumps, maybe you want to take a stick blender to it and puree it.  The more you mash, the thicker it will be, which is why we don't need to add flour.
4.  Reheat if needed (I started mine at 2, reheated at 5 for dinner by 5:30).  Stir in broccoli - it's okay if it falls apart!  And if you don't have any cooked already, just toss in a few cups of florets and let it boil until the broccoli softens up, too.
5.  Reduce to a simmer, stir in whatever cheese you have on hand.  I used havarti, white american, parmesan, and a mexican cheese blend.  It was amazing.  But most cheese is amazing.
6.  Turn off heat.  Add some heavy cream, or half & half, or just plain milk.  You know how creamy you want it to be.
7.  Add salt & pepper to taste.
8.  Serve with green onions & grated cheese as a garnish.  Crusty bread for dipping makes it a satisfying meal for 4 adults, or 2 adults and 2 toddlers with one bowl leftover.

You can tell I'm not a food blogger - this is the bowl of leftover soup :P

The kids really liked this - I recommend stocking up on a few loaves of crusty bread and freezing in portions you'll use, wrapped in foil.  Set it on the counter in the afternoon, heat it up at 350 for 10 minutes before dinner, and you're ready to go!  If I didn't have so many babies, I'd bake my own, but I don't quite have time for that yet...

What are your favorite meatless meals?  Any that satisfy the criteria above?  Give me recipes/blog posts!

And if you need any ideas on Lenten sacrifices, check out 100 ideas from my awesome sister!

Linking up to a recipe linkup HERE - go check out more recipes!  And find more ideas for celebrating the liturgical year here!

*Edit:  I am currently nursing twins and thus am in need of 1000+ extra calories a day to nourish them.  So I tend to have a pretty heavy hand with the cheese, cream, butter, etc.  I'm 100% certain you could make this with less fat, if that's a concern of yours.  I, on the other hand, noticed (after it had melted) that John Paul put an entire stick of butter into a pot of tomato soup the other day, in addition to the 1/2 stick that was already in there.  We ate it anyway, and it was delicious.


  1. This is awesome!!! Both my husband and I will be grateful to have more than just our two meatless options on rotation! Thank you! :)

  2. I love you even more after that butter story...you are a woman after my own (and Paula Dean's??) heart :)

    My only question is...WHERE IS THE PIZZA ON THIS LIST?!?!

    OK I have a few good ones I'll have to email you later (I'm on my phone getting oil changed right now!!) But here's an easy one off of the top of my head...

    Boil 1 lb. Penne pasta and drain, stir in 1 jar sauce, 1 small container ricotta (I think they are usually 15oz?), and 8oz shredded mozzarella, saving some of the mozzarella to sprinkle on top. Cover and bake in a 9x13 pan at 350 for 30 minutes

    1. How did I forget pizza? It's on my menu plan for the next two fridays, apparently I just forgot to write it down... And I totally forgot about baked penne! I made it a few weeks ago, that's definitely a good one to make ahead and pop in the oven, thanks!

  3. Thanks so much for joining in our linkup! It is great to "meet" you!

  4. Thanks for linking up! These are some great ideas for lenten meals :)

  5. Thanks for linking up! You were featured on todays post for having a lot of clicks on the link-up!


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