Skinny Broccoli Cheddar Soup

Look!  A recipe with NO pumpkin in it!  Wild huh?  Didn’t think that was possibly didja?

Well, when we are not making pumpkin (there is pumpkin oatmeal in my oven right now! LOL)

Here’s my weekends so far:  rehearsing for “It’s a Wonderful Life” the play and dinner theatre which is now SOLD OUT.  3 weeks until showtime!

This is a soup I have been tweaking and making for many years now.  It is now soup season since we have snow on the ground.  I know many people love the Panera version and this does not look like their soup… but it does taste similar to their soup.  It is still awesome tasting with a broth base of cooked onion, broccoli and cheddar.  But not quite as lengthy in ingredients as their version which contains: Water, Milk, Broccoli, Cheddar Cheese ([Pasteurized Milk, Cheese Culture, Salt, Enzymes], Water, Sodium Phosphate, Milkfat, Salt, Apocarotenal [Color]), Heavy Cream, Carrots, Contains 2% or less of: Seasoning (Modified Corn Starch, Flour [Wheat Flour, Ascorbic Acid Added as Dough Conditioner, Niacin, Reduced Iron, Thiamine Mononitrate, Riboflavin, Folic Acid], Salt, Spices, Extractives of Paprika), Onions, Chicken Base (Chicken Meat and Chicken Juices, Salt, Hydrolyzed Soy and Corn Protein, Sugar, Flavoring, Potato Flour, Autolyzed Yeast Extract, Carrot Powder and Turmeric), Butter (Cream, Salt), Modified Food Starch, Soybean Oil, Dijon Mustard (Water, Vinegar, Mustard Seed, Salt, White Wine, Fruit Pectin, Citric Acid, Tartaric Acid, Sugar, Spice), Nisin Preparation and Hot Pepper Sauce (Vinegar, Red Pepper, Salt).


You can make my original version.  I prefer this one now since it easier to prepare and I almost always have these ingredients on hand to make a quick batch for the week’s lunches or dinner paired with homemade bread.

Skinny Broccoli Cheddar Soup
Author: Mary Ellen P. Riley / Whisk Together
Serves: 5 servings
  • 1Tb. unsalated butter
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced
  • 1 and 1/2 pounds frozen broccoli florets
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
  • 3 cups low sodium chicken broth
  • 1 cup water
  • 3/4 cup milk, cream or fat free evaporated milk
  • 4 ounces (1 cup) extra sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1 Tb. mustard
  • salt and pepper
  • Toppings optional: bacon bits, extra cheese
  1. In a large pot or Dutch oven, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the onion and allow to cook 3-4 minutes or until translucent.
  2. In the meantime, microwave your broccoli in a steam bowl or other microwave safe bowl. You may need to do this in two batches for about 4-5 minutes each. Depending on the strength of your microwave. This will thaw the broccoli.
  3. Add garlic to the cooked onion and stir for 30 seconds.
  4. Add the thawed broccoli, broth and water. Simmer. Cover with a lid and cook for 8 minutes or until broccoli is cooked through.
  5. Puree the soup using an immersion blender to get some chunks-some pureed soup. Or use your blender. Add the soup back to the pot and add the milk, cheddar and mustard. Stir until melted and soup is hot again. I like chunks in my soup so I do not blend it all – but that is up to you.
  6. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  7. Add cooked bacon if you would like to add some meat. Serve hot and enjoy!
Calories: 260 Saturated fat: 6
Recipe adapted from America’s Test Kitchen “Comfort Food Makeovers”


Asian-Style Pork Chops and Broccoli | Instant Pot

Asian Style Pork Chops and Broccoli

Most stir-fry dishes are the same:  chicken or beef.  I like to have another option in my pocket because well… sometimes you get tired of chicken and beef.  Or, pork chops go on sale and you want to do something else to them other than fry them up in apples and rosemary.  Which happens 99% of the time.

This is another recipe from the super cool book The Great Big Pressure Cooker Book by Bruce Weinstein and Mark Scarbrough.  **I include the recipe for pressure cooker AND stove top**


Even without a pressure cooker…. this $15 book has 500 recipes on a lot of different flavor profiles like Asian style pork, tomato-chile pork chops and rice, turkey breast with mushroom gravy, turkey breast with prosecco and fennel, etc. etc.    I’m not sure the pressure cooker really saved any time on this dish.  But it was fun to try and the pork chops did not dry out as they sometimes can do when cooked on the stove top.

Asian Style Pork Chops and Broccoli2

Asian-Style Pork Chops and Broccoli
Author: Mary Ellen P. Riley / Whisk Together
  • 1 and 1/2 Tb. toasted sesame oil
  • 4 – 1/2″ thick pork chops (bone in or boneless worked for me)
  • 6 medium scallions (or 1/2 yellow onion in a pinch)
  • 1 tsp. minced or pressed garlic
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 2 Tb. dark or light brown sugar
  • 1 Tb. rice vinegar
  • 4 cups broccoli florets (frozen works as well, but try thawing first)
  1. Pressure Cooker: Hit “brown” or “saute” on the pressure cooker and heat the oil. Brown the pork chops slightly. Add the onion and garlic. Cook 1 minute.
  2. Add the broth, soy sauce, brown sugar and vinegar. Cook 10 minutes on high pressure.
  3. Bring the pressure back down quickly with the valve/quick release.
  4. Add the broccoli. Put the lid back on and allow the broccoli to cook for about 5 minutes. Closer to 8-10 minutes for frozen.
  5. Serve meat with broccoli and sauce at the bottom of the pot.
  6. For Stove top: Take a large wok or pan and heat the oil over medium to medium-high heat. Brown the pork chops slightly. Add the onion and garlic. Cook 1 minute.
  7. Add remaining ingredients EXCEPT broccoli. Stir that around. Bring to a boil. Turn the heat down to medium/medium low, simmer and cover for 5 minutes. The pork chops will be done and should be 140 degrees internally.
  8. Add broccoli and put the cover back on the pan. Cook 5 minutes longer.
  9. Optional: serve with soy sauce.
Add a pinch of red pepper flakes to increase the heat.[br][br]If you don’t realize the pork chops are finished so quickly, then simply microwave the broccoli and add to the sauce/pork chops. Mine finished so fast that the pot was now on warm instead of hot – not hot enough to cook the broccoli. So, I had to cook the broccoli in the microwave.[br][br]As a side, I cooked brown rice in the pressure cooker before the pork chops. 22 minutes on high pressure with 1 cup brown rice and 1 and 1/8 cups water. The rice was kept warm in the oven.[br][br]Recipe from The Great Big Pressure Cookbook


Steak and Broccoli Stir Fry

Beef and Broccoli Stir Fry_1 on Whisk Together

Book:  I finished “Where’d You Go Bernadette?” by Maria Semple!  It is quite funny.  I give it 4 out of 5 stars because the writing is funny, the plot moves just enough to keep you interested, but the ending was kind of a let down.

Some of my favorite quotes:
-“That’s right,’ she told the girls. ‘You are bored. And I’m going to let you in on a little secret about life. You think it’s boring now? Well, it only gets more boring. The sooner you learn it’s on you to make life interesting, the better off you’ll be.”
-“You know what it’s like when you go to IKEA and you can’t believe how cheap everything is, and even though you may not need a hundred tea lights, my God, they’re only ninety-nine cents for the whole bag? Or: Sure the throw are filled with a squishy ball of no-doubt toxic whatnot, but they’re so bright and three-for-five-dollars that before you know it you’ve dropped five hundred bucks, not because you needed any of this crap, but because it was so damn cheap?”

Recipe:  Ooh, I haven’t made some yummy stir fry in YEARS.  I guess I never think to make it with the kids.  The kids love steak, so they ate this right up.  My husband and I drooling over finally getting some yummy stir fry chock full of bell peppers, onions and soy sauce.

If you like take out food and steak, make this recipe!!  We usually play around and increase the recipe with more steak and veggies so that we have leftovers.

Beef and Broccoli Stir Fry on Whisk Together

Steak and Broccoli Stir Fry


  • Steak and Broccoli Stir Fry
  • serves 4
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1 Tb. cornstarch
  • 1 Tb. olive oil or coconut oil, divided
  • 1 large steak (16 oz)- sirloin or flank steak would be good here, cut into 1/2" strips
  • 3 cups broccoli florets
  • 1 onion, large chunks
  • 1 red bell pepper, strips (feel free to add more peppers as we did)
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced (we love garlic and used 4)
  • 1 tsp. ginger root, grated (or ground ginger if you don't have any fresh)
  • 1/2 cup beef broth or water


  1. To marinade the steak: mix soy sauce, cornstarch and 1 tsp. olive oil. Add steak. Marinade a few hours in the fridge. Or ...
  2. Simply add the soy sauce, corn starch and 1 tsp. oil into a large skillet or wok. Heat over medium high and add steak. Cook until the meat is no longer pink. Take out of the skillet and set aside.
  3. Add the rest of the olive oil to the skillet, turn down to medium heat and add the vegetables. Cook about 10 minutes and stir often to avoid sticking. If needed add water if sticking continues. Once cooked, add the steak and broth. Simmer over medium-low heat for 5 minutes. Serve with extra soy sauce or Trader Joe's Island Soyaki.
  4. Recipe from Pampered Chef

Steak and Broccoli Stir Fry
serves 4

1/4 cup soy sauce
1 Tb. cornstarch
1 Tb. olive oil or coconut oil, divided
1 large steak (16 oz)- sirloin or flank steak would be good here, cut into 1/2″ strips
3 cups broccoli florets
1 onion, large chunks
1 red bell pepper, strips (feel free to add more peppers as we did)
2 garlic cloves, minced (we love garlic and used 4)
1 tsp. ginger root, grated (or ground ginger if you don’t have any fresh)
1/2 cup beef broth or water

To marinade the steak:  mix soy sauce, cornstarch and 1 tsp. olive oil.  Add steak.  Marinade a few hours in the fridge.  Or …
Simply add the soy sauce, corn starch and 1 tsp. oil into a large skillet or wok.  Heat over medium high and add steak.  Cook until the meat is no longer pink.  Take out of the skillet and set aside.
Add the rest of the olive oil to the skillet, turn down to medium heat and add the vegetables.  Cook about 10 minutes and stir often to avoid sticking.  If needed add water if sticking continues.  Once cooked, add the steak and broth.  Simmer over medium-low heat for 5 minutes.  Serve with extra soy sauce or Trader Joe’s Island Soyaki.


Recipe from Pampered Chef

Paleo Broccoli & Cauliflower Soup

Broccoli Cauliflower Soup_6 on WT

Book Update:  I went to the King Arthur Flour presentation for whole grains and yeast.  I can’t wait to show you step by step what I learned!  I wanted to bake through and photograph a couple recipes first.  They are such a cool company!  Totally employee owned, they answer EVERY single question you ask online or over the phone, they use the best wheat from USA farmers only, they don’t bleach any of their flour EVER, and have some of the best recipes online.

Recipe Update:  This is another hit from “Practical Paleo.”  I do not follow the paleo diet FYI.  I simply enjoy finding healthier recipes that use real ingredients and more fruits and vegetables that seem so desperately needed in the American diet.

Flavor:  Great!  Even better with a little sprinkled cheddar cheese on top 🙂
Time:  Very time consuming.  This is not something I could make often.  Perhaps if I had steamed all the veggies in the veggie bags that are already precut, then it wouldn’t have been so bad.
Texture:  Like pureed veggies.  But tasty.
Would I make it again?  Probably.  Especially for health conscious visitors.

**TIP**  Roasting garlic is VERY easy.  Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.  Simply cut off the tips of the head of garlic.  This should expose the garlic cloves.  Throw that into a piece of foil.  Drizzle a wee bit of olive oil on top.  Seal up with foil.  Bake for 30 minutes.  You can do one or several at a time.

Roasted Garlic_1 on WT

Roasted Garlic_3 on WT

Paleo Broccoli & Cauliflower Soup
serves 4

2 cups broccoli, steamed and chopped
2 cups cauliflower, steamed and chopped
1 cup chicken broth
4-6 cloves of roasted garlic
4-6 slices of bacon

1.  Use steam bags for the broccoli and cauliflower, or do what I did and use whole broccoli heads and cauliflower chopped up.  It took me 1 – 14 ounce package of broccoli crowns and less than 1 head of cauliflower to make the 2 cups for each vegetable.  I steamed them in my steamer bowl in the microwave, but a steaming basket on the stove works as well.

Broccoli Cauliflower Soup on WT  My little girl’s chopping station.

2.  Cook the bacon in the microwave, stovetop or oven.
3.  The chicken broth and vegetables need pureed.  I did this with my immersion blender on LOW.  (If you use it on HIGH, then you will get a mess.  Believe me.)  Or you can put 2 cups of veggies and 1/2 cup of broth in a blender or food processor and process until smooth.  Repeat with the rest of the broth, vegetables AND roasted garlic this time.  Pour all of it into a large soup pot and heat through over medium or medium low heat.
4.  Salt and pepper to taste.
5.  When serving, place the soup in the soup bowl and crumble bacon on top.  Cheddar cheese is also yummy.

Recipe from Practical Paleo

Asian Broccoli Slaw

Asian Broccoli Slaw_1 on Whisk Together

Book Update: So, now that I’m dismissed from jury duty I can talk about it.  Wow!  What an interesting experience I have to say.  Everyone needs to see the process.  There is nothing in “pretend” 8th grade mock trials that really prepare you for a plaintiff lawyer grilling you in voir dire.  We were even called “victims”!    I kid you not.  Apparently, you can have a mistrial before the jury is even chosen.  Now I know.  I also know I never ever ever want to be sued!  Oh boy.  To sit there and listen to people talk about you and if you will pay money or not for pain and suffering?  No thank you.

Still working on my freezer meal cooking ideas…

Recipe Update:  To completely change gears, this recipe is a result of my ever ongoing search for finding vegetable recipes I like and finding vegetable recipes that don’t require a ton of prep work.  This fits the bill!  I’m a big fan of this Asian Plum Ginger Dressing by Wildtree.  I’m sure Kraft and other companies make a similar Asian dressing.  You can even make this slaw in less than 5 minutes!  Plus, you can change it to suit your taste.  It is partially based on the California Chicken Salad that I often get from O’Charleys.  But only on Monday and Tuesday… because kids eat free on those days.  🙂

Asian Broccoli Slaw_2 on Whisk Together

Asian Broccoli Slaw

1 serving – multiply as you see fit

1 and 1/2 cups broccoli slaw (shredded broccoli stems and carrots)
*Trader Joe’s Organic Broccoli Slaw works well
2 Tb. asian dressing or your favorite dressing
1 handful chopped pecans or walnuts
1 handful raisins or dried cranberries

1.  Toss it all together and eat!

Asian Broccoli Slaw_3 on Whisk Together     +    Asian Broccoli Slaw_4 on Whisk Together  +  nuts + dried berries = YUM!

Broccoli Cheddar Soup (Light!)

Broccoli Cheddar Soup on Whisk Together

I love Panera’s Broccoli Cheddar Soup with the rest of them.  Costco makes one that pretty much tastes exactly like it – cheesey, thick and delicious.  This soup isn’t as thick, but it is huge on flavor and even my husband who hates this kind of soup LIKED it.  So it is getting posted!  Plus, the one in the restaurants are full of salt, so making this soup at home really reduces the sodium intake.

*To wash leeks, cut them in half the long way.  Then, slice them thin and put all the slices in a large bowl of water.  This gets all the dirt out.

Calories:  260, fat: 11 grams, saturated fat: 6

Broccoli Cheddar Soup (Light)
serves 5

1 Tb. unsalted butter
1 and 1/2 lbs. broccoli, florets cut into 1″ pieces (I just used frozen broccoli!)
1 lb. leeks, white and light green part only, sliced thin and washed*
2 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
3 cups low sodium chicken broth
1 cup water
3/4 cup fat free evaporated milk
4 oz. sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (1 cup)
1 Tb. dijon mustard (I hate mustard and omitted)
salt and pepper

1.  Heat a large pot on medium heat.  Melt the butter.  Add the broccoli and leeks.  Cook that about 10 minutes or until they are soft.  This will take longer if you use frozen.  I didn’t have much problem with it.
2.  Add garlic and cook 30 seconds.
3.  Add broth and water.  Simmer.  Cover with a lid and continue to keep simmering to cook the broccoli more – about 8 minutes.
4.  Pureeing the soup in the blender took about 3 batches.  I added a little evaporated milk, cheddar and mustard to each batch until I was out of those ingredients.  Personally, I like some chunks of broccoli like in Panera’s version, so I pureed about 80% of my soup.
5.  Add the soup back to the pot and heat it up if necessary and add salt and pepper.  Serve hot.

Broccoli Cheddar Soup 2 on Whisk Together

Recipe adapted (just a little) from America’s Test Kitchen Comfort Food Makeovers

Roasted Cheddar Broccoli

This recipe is from Food Network Magazine.  I’m not sure I am going to renew the magazine.  I get excited when I see it in my mailbox and love looking through it – only to realize that I never have any of those ingredients or the time to make them.  Plus all the recipes are online.  Don’t believe me?  Check it out!   Maybe we are too picky.  I dunno.  I do love that they have some real awesome recipes in it.  I made Chocolate Babka from the magazine, and it looks way better than the one Panera sells.

I would definitely make this again.

Roasted Cheddar Broccoli
yield 4 servings

1 large head of broccoli
3 Tb. olive oil, divided
1/2 cup breadcrumbs (Panko works best – Trader Joe’s carries them and Walmart started carrying them in a box)
1 cup sharp cheddar, grated/shredded
1 bunch of scallions, sliced (on in a pinch, use 1/4 of a red onion diced really finely)
pinch of nutmeg

1.  Preheat oven to 450 degrees.  Cut the broccoli into long spears.
2.  In a large bowl, mix 2 Tb. olive oil and the broccoli.  Throw a little salt on there.  Roast on a baking sheet for 15 minutes.
3.  In  a medium bowl, mix the breadcrumbs, cheddar, scallions and nutmeg with the remaining 1 Tb. olive oil.
4.  Sprinkle this on the broccoli and return to the oven for 15 more minutes.

Sausage Broccoli Bake

This breakfast or brunch recipe is wonderful!  So many ways to change it up and use different vegetables or meats.  I love omelets, but making them can be sometimes frustrating.  The eggs fall apart, the meats fall through the egg, the cheese goes everywhere.  But if you make this instead you still have an omelet and a no-fail breakfast meal.  I have not tried freezing it… but I believe if you were to put it into a foil pan after layering you would be able to freeze it and then thaw in the fridge.  After thawed completely, follow baking directions as normal.  Or even bake or freeze them in a muffin pan for individual portions.

Sausage Broccoli Bake
yield 8 servings

1/2 lb. breakfast sausage, crumbled and cooked
1 c. broccoli, chopped and cooked
1 c. shredded cheddar cheese
3 eggs
1-1/4c. milk
1/2c. flour
1 t. baking powder
1/2t. salt

1.  Preheat oven 350 degrees.  Grease/spray a 9″ pie pan.  Spread all the sausage on the bottom of the pan, layer broccoli on top, layer the cheddar on top of the broccoli.
2.  In large bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, flour, baking powder and salt.  Pour the egg mixture on top of the cheese.
3.   Bake 25-30 minutes.

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