Get cozy with a bowl of broccoli soup

Julie Falsetti
For The York Dispatch

Growing up, I visited my grandmother most weekends, often on both Saturday and Sunday. The idea of being “invited for dinner” didn’t exist. That there would be food was a given. She was Italian.

As soon as anyone walked in the door, the coffee pot began to perk, and a cup of coffee appeared in minutes. The adults sat around the large kitchen table and chatted, each trying to talk over the others in an animated Sicilian dialect.

Often a few of my cousins were there too, and we would run around the yard outside unsupervised. If the weather was rainy, we huddled together over comic books. If my older cousin was there, it was my chance to engage in some age-inappropriate reading. An hour or so later we were summoned to the kitchen to eat.

Perhaps as a child I didn’t pay attention, but I never saw my grandmother cooking. The food just magically appeared — big bowls of spaghetti topped with meatballs, steaming artichokes, eggplant Parmesan and always a large pot of soup.

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My favorite was a broccoli soup that was born from the cucina povera (kitchen of the poor) style of cooking, where simple dishes were created from fresh, readily available ingredients.

In this soup the broccoli stands on its own, the flavor not overpowered with cheese or cream. Fresh broccoli is cooked in a flavorful broth rounded out with the addition of some small pasta. Sprinkled with grated Parmesan, it warms both the tummy and the heart.

A comforting and warming dish at any age, this broccoli soup comes together quickly and makes broccoli the standout flavor, not overshadowed by cream or cheese.The recipe is from the cucina povera style of cooking, meaning the kitchen of the poor, which uses fresh, readily available ingredients to make simple dishes.

Broccoli Soup

  • 1 small head broccoli, washed and trimmed
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 10 cups vegetable or chicken stock (or water)
  • Salt to taste, depending on your stock
  • 1/2 teaspoon white pepper
  • 1 cup small soup pasta (orzo, small shells, stelline)
  • Parmesan or Romano cheese, for garnish

Separate the broccoli into stalks and florets. Cut the stalks into bite-size pieces. Separate the florets into bite-size pieces and set aside.

In a large soup pot, saute the onion and garlic in the oil until soft, about 7 minutes. Add first the stalks and then the florets. Stir for a minute or two. Add the stock and the salt and pepper. Bring to a boil.

Lower the flame and cook partially covered for 30 minutes. Add the pasta and cook for another 5 minutes, stirring occasionally so that the pasta doesn't stick.

Serve topped with grated Parmesan or Romano cheese.

— Julie Falsetti, a York native, comes from a long line of good cooks. Her column, From Scratch, runs twice monthly in The York Dispatch food section. Reach her with questions and comments at julietrulie11@gmail.com.