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Fresh and Creamy Broccoli-Cheese Soup

A light, bright, and incredibly fresh-tasting broccoli soup, thick with melting cheddar cheese. The secret is in the late addition of the tender florets. Serve hot to 4 people as a first course--to 2 people as a satisfying meal.

Garnish: brick of cheddar cheese, for grating

In a large saucepan, saute the onion, broccoli stems, celery, and hot pepper in the olive oil over low heat--sweating them until the onion is transparent. Pour in the stock and bring to a boil. Stir in potato and parsley, then reduce heat and simmer for about 20 minutes, until the vegetables are tender. Puree, solids first, in a blender--then return to the pot.

When you're 5 or so minutes away from serving, bring the pureed soup to a boil, stir in the reserved florets, and cook on medium heat for 3 to 4 minutes. Return the soup and florets to the blender and lightly pulse until the florets are nicely chunked and distributed throughout.

Ladle into soup bowls or flat soup plates and grate the cheese in long, thick strips over each serving. Serve immediately.