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A few weeks ago we saw broccoli soup on a menu. It was the first time Matthew told me not to order something I really wanted. “I’ll make it for you,” he said.

Matthew has a lot to say about soup. It is the first course you receive in a restaurant, setting the stage for what is to come. For home cooks, we use soup as a way to use leftover ingredients and to stretch a budget, or to highlight an ingredient.

When we see vegetable soup on a restaurant menu we always ask “Is it vegan?” Now we are not vegans, but you can tell a lot about the soup by the answer to this question. Vegan soups most often preserve the integrity of the ingredients, which is difficult to do. Cream and butter tend to mask flavors and chicken stock makes just about everything taste better. This particular broccoli soup was vegan. I was intrigued.

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Matthew made broccoli soup for me last week. I’ll be honest – it was just okay. It was simple and light, but nothing that made us want to go back for more. We hovered over the simmering soup pot contemplating what was missing, tasting spoons in hand. Matthew grabbed a can of half-used coconut milk from the refrigerator and poured it in. This simple addition transformed the soup into something creamy, delicate and flavorful. I was glad I waited for Matthew’s version.

Coconut Broccoli Soup
{gluten-free, vegan}

Serves 4

one head of broccoli, cut into large florets
5 cloves of garlic, peeled
1/2 can coconut milk
salt

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add two big spoonfuls of salt. The blanching water should taste like the ocean.

Add the broccoli and garlic to the pot and blanch for 3-4 minutes. We blanched ours in two batches, as the broccoli needs plenty of room to cook properly. Remove broccoli and garlic from the pot and add to a blender. Be careful not overload the blender. We fill it just under halfway full and puree in batches.

Add 1 cup of water and coconut milk, plus a big pinch of salt and blend on high for at least two minutes. Add a little more water if the soup is too thick. Taste and add more salt if needed. Give it one final blend, then divide into four bowls and serve.

If you are planning on serving this soup later, please make sure to cool the soup quickly in an ice water bath. Dropping the temperature quickly will help to preserve the bright green color of the soup.

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