Broccoli Soup May 09 2014, 0 Comments
by Tanya Jenkyn, Esperance, Western Australia
Let’s be honest, there’s not much that’s sexy about broccoli but I reckon if you take a few minutes to reflect on the nutritional value of this vegetable you may reconsider.
Broccoli is very low in calories and the protein content is one third of its nourishment. It is rich in vitamins A, C, folic acid and some of the other B vitamins. Most of the minerals are also present, particularly good amounts of potassium, along with calcium, phosphorus, magnesium and iron. Along with all its Brassica relatives, broccoli has been found to act as a cancer preventative and recent studies suggest some broccoli compounds may be particularly helpful in smokers and folk with chronic lung disease. What a powerhouse! All that in one funny looking vegetable and it’s pretty easy to grow.
Like all the Brassica’s, broccoli is a heavy feeder so before planting out I like to boost the soil with some well-rotted compost and manure. Add to this a good dose of blood and bone and if, unlike me, you’re in an area without naturally alkaline soil you may want to throw on a little extra lime. Loosely mulch with pea hay (or your own locally sourced choice of mulch), plant out your seedlings and water in with some seaweed tonic.
I would like to say that from here on all you have to do is water occasionally but I feel I should mention those nasty little green caterpillars that love to dine on all things in the Brassica family. In our patch, we’ve netted all the beds. We used steel pickets, bent high-density poly pipe over the top and covered them with bird netting. This has proven mightily effective in keeping the bunnies, the peacock and the toddler off our crops but those dastardly cabbage moths still get in and lay their eggs, leading to caterpillar invasion. I do believe, however that if we used a finer mesh that this wouldn't be the case. So we just keep a spray bottle of chilli and garlic spray at the ready and squirt the little blighters as we find them. I recently spoke to a friend of mine who said she just pays her kids five cents for every caterpillar they catch and squish, now that’s organic gardening!
Getting back to the business of eating, I have a few suggestions to put some bling back into your broccoli. To preserve the nutritional content broccoli is best eaten raw or lightly steamed. Try using the florets as crudités to accompany a dip, throw some into a stir-fry or steam and toss through some butter and toasted nuts.
Here is a couple of extra recipes you could use when you have too many broccoli ready at once, or just need to smuggle some vitamins into your family.
Super Easy Broccoli Soup
1 large slurp of olive oil
1 red onion, chopped
4 cloves of garlic, chopped
2 heads of broccoli, chopped
1 1/2 L of stock
salt and pepper to taste
In a big pot, sauté the onions and garlic in olive oil, add chopped broccoli, cover with stock, bring to the boil and then simmer until broccoli is tender, about 5 minutes. Blend and serve with hot buttered toast. How easy is that?
Blue Broccoli Cheese
1 head of broccoli
3T of plain flour
50 gm blue cheese, chopped
1 cup cheddar cheese, grated
1/4 cup of sliced almonds
Roughly chop up the broccoli and place in a baking dish. Melt butter in a pan, add flour and stir until it forms a paste. Gradually add milk until the sauce thickens then add all the blue cheese and most of the tasty cheese. Pour the sauce over the broccoli, top with the rest of the cheddar cheese, sprinkle with sliced almonds. Bake in a moderate oven for 30 minutes or until the top is crisp and golden.