Roasted Broccoli Soup with Bacon

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Sometimes inspiration comes from a trifecta of random thoughts… this week I had an abundance of broccoli that I had to do something with, International Bacon Day was coming up, and my Aunt Janna was about to celebrate her 84th birthday!  Seemingly unrelated, but somehow pulled together for this very rich and flavorful twist on cream of broccoli soup.

My Aunt Janna is a wonderful cook, one of my most favorite memories is that quintessential summer potluck salad of chopped broccoli, tangy red onions and lots of bacon. I think as a youngster that salad made a huge impact on my tastebuds. Imagine! Broccoli something more delicious than the boiled variety (with mayonnaise) that was a dinner staple. That food memory calls to me every summer. Now that fall is approaching, how can I capture it’s essense and give it my own zest.

Roasted Broccoli Soup with Bacon
8 servings
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 1 hour

1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 pound bacon, lean, low salt
2-3 slices thick pepper bacon
1 1/2 cups diced yellow onion
1 1/2 cups diced red onion
2 diced stalks celery
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons chopped flat Italian Parsley
4 sprigs fresh lemon thyme
2 teaspoons fresh sweet marjoram
2 bay leaves
48-49 ounces Fat Free Chicken Broth
2 carrots sliced
4 cups fresh broccoli crowns and tender stems, chopped
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup 2% milk
Taste before adding salt and cracked pepper

Finely chopped cooked bacon
Sour cream drizzle
1/4 cup chopped chives

Dice onions, celery
Chop parsley and sweet marjarom
Cut bacon up into small pieces for quick crisping
Wash broccoli and carrots and cut into 1/2 inch chunks set aside.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Prepare Stock: In 6-8 quart sauce pot heat olive oil and cook bacon pieces until crisp. Drain on paper towels and pour off bulk of bacon fat reserve. Use about 1 tablespoon bacon dripping and saute garlic, onions, celery until soft. Deglaze with chicken broth, add lemon thyme sprigs, bay leaves, chopped parsley and sweet marjoram, bring to a low boil then simmer for 45 minutes. Meanwhile..
Roast Carrots and Broccoli: Place carrots and broccoli in a single layer on roasting pan that has been sprayed with cooking spray, sprinkle with about 2-3 tablespoons bacon fat (no, really gives wonderful flavor.) Roast for a 20-30 minutes until fork tender and broccoli shows slight roasted char. Remove from oven. Add to simmering stock, bring to soft boil, then simmer for 15 minutes until broccoli and carrots are very tender. Take off heat to cool 10 minutes.
Puree Vegetables: Remove bay leaves and lemon thyme sprigs. In batches, with slotted spoon, remove vegetables from stock and puree in blender or food processor adding a bit of stock to keep liquid.  I prefer this than the immersion stick for this recipe. Strain remainder of stock to remove any remaining herb stems, excess pepper.  Add puree and stock back to pot, add milk and cream and heat to warm though, do not boil. 
Taste and adjust salt and pepper to suit.

Serving  Suggestions
Serve garnished with a swirl of sour cream and finely chopped bacon bits, sprinkle with chopped chives. Nice with sourdough bread or other hearty bread.

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