Cream of Broccoli, Chicken and Cheddar Soup

This is what I made for supper last night. (Okay, okay. I know that I said Sunday is traditionally Rice Pudding night in our house, but yesterday was the Sunday School picnic, and we didn't get home in time for me to make that for supper.

It was super-delish, and thanks to the chicken in it, Jude even consumed about half a bowl, despite it's otherwise-greenish pallor that is usually the "Don't Eat This!" flag to the oldest child in our house.

2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
2 tbsp. butter
2 medium onions, finely chopped
2 heads broccoli, stems and florets finely chopped, separately
4 cloves garlic, minced
4-6 med. red potatoes, peeled and diced in 1/2-inch chunks (amount depends on how thick you like your soup)
8 c. homemade chicken stock
3 tsp. sea salt
1/8-1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper (depending on how hot you like it)
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 c. whole milk
1 c. diced cooked chicken
1 c. shredded cheddar (organic is best)
1 c. whipping cream (opt.) or serve with sour cream or Creme Fraiche.

Melt butter and olive oil together in a large pot. Add chopped onion, chopped broccoli stems and minced garlic--saute until vegetables are soft, about 10 minutes. Add chicken stock, broccoli florets, potatoes, and sea salt. Cook on med-low heat until potatoes are soft, about 20 minutes. Blend in pot with hand-held blender, or put through blender in batches and return to pot.

Add cayenne pepper, pepper, milk, chicken, cheddar, and whipping cream. Heat gently over low, do not let it boil. Serve immediately with a dollop of sour cream or Creme Fraiche, if you wish.

(I will add Crème Fraiche recipe at a later date--this is so much yummier than sour cream from the store!)

Makes about 16 cups. Freezes wonderfully.