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¼ lb. bacon, cut into small dice
2 cups leeks, thinly sliced and rinsed free of grit*
2 cup celery, thinly sliced
Salt and pepper
2 quarts chicken stock
Pinch cayenne pepper (optional)
3 cups Yukon Gold potato, peeled and cut into small dice
3 tbsp. cornstarch
4 cups broccoli florets, blanched ahead of time
3 cups cooked chicken, cut into bite-size pieces
½ cup heavy cream (optional)
2 cups grated white cheddar cheese
½ cup crispy fried onions
Lemon-Herb topping (see below)
Cook bacon in a large soup pot over medium heat until it has rendered its fat and has begun to brown a little. Add the leeks, celery and a teaspoon of salt. Stir the leeks and celery until they are coated in the bacon fat. Reduce heat to medium-low and then cover the pot. Sweat the leeks and celery with the bacon until they are completely softened but not browned.
Add the chicken stock to the leek and celery mixture and cook over high heat until the soup begins to boil. Reduce flame to medium and simmer the soup for about 15 minutes. Add the pinch of cayenne, if using, and diced potatoes next. Add salt to taste if needed. Simmer the potatoes 5 or 6 minutes or until they are just done. Put the cornstarch into a small bowl and add a couple tablespoons of water to it and stir till it mixes into the water without lumps. Add this cornstarch slurry to the simmering potatoes, stirring steadily for a minute or two so the cornstarch can thicken the soup evenly. Turn flame down to lowest setting.
Add the broccoli florets, chicken and the heavy cream (if using) to the soup and stir to blend. Allow the broccoli and chicken to fully heat but avoid letting the soup boil. Check the soup once more for seasoning. When soup is hot it is ready to serve. Ladle into large soup bowls and top with some of the grated cheddar cheese, a few fried onions and a teaspoonful of the Lemon-Herb topping. Makes about 8 portions of soup.
1 tbsp. lemon zest
¼ cup lemon juice
½ tsp salt (or to taste)
¼ cup chives or scallions, chopped
¼ cup fresh parsley, chopped
1 tbsp. fresh lemon thyme (or thyme), finely chopped
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
Mix all ingredients together in a small bowl. Set aside until soup is finished. Makes about ¾ cup
*if leeks are not available in your market use one onion, chopped fine