BROCCOLI, BACON AND CHEDDAR CHOWDER
Note: You can substitute 5 cups chopped cooked fresh broccoli (about 3 large stalks) for the frozen variety. From "300 Sensational Soups," by Carla Snyder and Meredith Deeds.
• 8 slices bacon, chopped
• 2 tbsp. unsalted butter
• 1 onion, finely chopped
• 2 tbsp. all-purpose flour
• 3 c. milk
• 2 c. chicken or vegetable stock
• 1/2 tsp. salt
• Pinch cayenne pepper
• 12 oz. red-skinned potatoes (about 3 medium), cut into 1/2 -in. dice
• 2 c. shredded Cheddar cheese, tossed with 1 tbsp. all-purpose flour
• 1 tsp. hot pepper sauce, optional
• 2 (10-oz.) pkg. frozen chopped broccoli, thawed and drained (see Note)
In a large pot, sauté bacon over medium heat until browned and crispy, about 5 minutes. Remove with slotted spoon to a plate lined with paper towels. Set aside.
Pour off all but 2 tablespoons of fat in the pot. Add butter and heat until melted. Add onion and sauté until softened, about 6 minutes. Sprinkle with flour and sauté for 2 minutes.
Gradually whisk in milk, stock, salt and cayenne; bring to a simmer, stirring often. Simmer, stirring often, until smooth and creamy, about 3 minutes. Do not let boil. Add potatoes, reduce heat and simmer, stirring often, until tender, about 20 minutes.
Add cheese, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring with a wooden spoon after each addition until cheese is melted. Do not let boil. Add hot pepper sauce. Add broccoli and simmer, stirring, until heated through. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and cayenne, if necessary.
Ladle into heated bowls and garnish with reserved bacon.