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Although in theory Spring arrived last Wednesday, March 20th, Mother Nature played a wicked trick on us here in Montreal. We were hit with a blizzard on Tuesday, with a record-breaking 36 cm/15 in of snow falling upon our city. And while some people thought it looked very pretty outside, all white and picturesque, I’d like to remind them that we are in the third week of March and NOT December! The ONLY good thing about the snowfall was that for a brief couple of days, the pot-hole-laden streets of Montreal were actually pleasant to drive on. Instead of feeling like I was driving through the Australian Outback, I actually felt like I was driving through the streets of a developed, industrialized country. Don’t get me wrong. I have driven through the Australian outback in a 4 x 4 and LOVED it! But I am in a city with supposedly paved streets, and my Mojita is not built for the Outback. In case you’re wondering, Mojita is my car and she is named after my favourite Summer cocktail, the Mojito. Only it’s Mojita because my baby is a she.

The other good thing about it still being Winter? Broccoli Cheddar Soup. Although it’s more of a chowder, really. Just last Monday, Charlotte mentioned that I had not made her ultimate favourite soup since last Winter. So last night, with the weather screaming for soup, I made this for her. For all of us. So yummy, I wonder how I got by this Winter without making it! And as I sit here writing this post, I’m staring out the window and watching pretty little snowflakes fall upon our city once again! Oh joy!

Broccoli Cheddar Soup

4 tablespoons of butter

1 large Vidalia, Spanish or sweet onion, finely chopped

1/2 cup of flour

6 cups of chicken stock, or vegetable stock for a vegetarian version

4 potatoes, peeled and cubed, about a 1/2 inch size

2 bay leaves

3 cups of milk, I use 1%

2 heads of broccoli, cut into florets, about 6 cups

3 cups of grated Cheddar cheese, I use strong or aged

Salt & Papper, to taste

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You can use regular onions if that’s what you have, I like to use the sweeter onions because of their milder flavour. Same thing with the milk. I use low-fat because that’s what we have in our home, but feel free to use whatever milk is in your fridge.

In a large saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring, for about 5 minutes. Sprinkle in the flour and stir. Add your stock, the potatoes and bay leaves. Bring to a boil, stirring often. You need to stir often otherwise the flour will settle on the bottom of the pan and the potatoes will stick to it. Trust me on this one! Once it begins to boil, reduce the heat to a simmer and cover. Cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the broccoli and cook for about 8 to 10 minutes, until the vegetables are tender.

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Stir in the milk and cheese and just give it another 3 minutes or so to get hot. Do not let it come to a boil or it may curdle.

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Turn off the heat and remove the bay leaves. Give it a taste and season with salt and pepper. Some cheese may be saltier than others so you really need to give it a taste and adjust to your liking. Ladle soup, or chowder, into bowls and serve with some nice crusty bread. Mmmm, perfect on a cold winter’s night!

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